Bodyguards offer protection to their clients against injury, attacks and harassment. They accompany individuals such as politicians and actors to various events and gatherings. Bodyguards observe the surrounding environment, anticipate threats and respond to security emergencies. They may carry and use guns.

Bodyguards typically do the following:

  • protect clients from threats like terrorism, political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans
  • check out and secure premises before clients arrive
  • identify suspicious behaviour or unauthorised people
  • prevent potential threats or disruption
  • stay constantly alert to react to threatening situations
  • accompany clients on business and social visits
  • drive clients to and from venues

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to bodyguard:

personal safety specialist
personal security worker
protection officer
close protection officer
personal safety worker
personal protection officer

Working conditions

Bodyguards typically work long hours, often more than 40 hours per week, and they may be required to work on weekends and holidays. They may also be on call 24 hours a day, which means they must be available to work at any time. They may work in shifts, and their work hours may vary depending on the needs of their employer.

Bodyguards may work in a variety of settings, including office buildings, private homes, and public venues. They may also travel with their employer to provide protection while the employer is away from home. Bodyguards must be able to react quickly and calmly in potentially dangerous situations and must be physically fit to protect their employer from harm.

Minimum qualifications

Bodyguards typically have at least a high school diploma. Some firms may prefer a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, security management or another similar field.

Bodyguards typically receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training may include instruction on the client’s daily routine, preferred modes of transportation and preferred routes. The bodyguard may also learn about the client’s family members and any special needs they may have. The bodyguard may also receive instruction on the client’s preferred methods of protection, such as firearms or self-defense.

Bodyguards need to obtain a license to work in their field. Each country or state has a different process for getting a license, but they typically require that personal bodyguards have completed a certain number of hours of training in first aid, CPR and basic life support.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Bodyguard is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Bodyguard career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to bodyguard.

gate guard
door supervisor
armoured car guard
security guard
security guard supervisor

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of bodyguard. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of bodyguard with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

hand luggage inspector
store detective
police detective
court bailiff
private detective

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of bodyguard.

  • Check methods: Procedures used for investigative purposes such as surveillance by physical and electronic means, interrogations of witnesses, collection of objects and data for assessment and analysis and physical and electronic research for collecting data.
  • Security threats: Types of threats to public and private security such as unauthorised entry, aggressive behaviour, molestation, robbery, theft, assault, kidnapping, murder and public demonstration.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of bodyguard.

  • Restrain individuals: Restrain, or control by force, individuals who violate regulations in terms of acceptable behaviour, who present a threat to others, and who perform acts of violence, to ensure the individual is unable to proceed in this negative behaviour and to protect others.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Perform body searches: Examine visitors by performing a body search, in order to detect weapons or illegal substances.
  • Protect important clients: Keep clients safe who have extraordinary level of risk by organising and providing the relevant security.
  • React calmly in stressful situations: React quickly, calmly, and safely to unexpected situations. Provide a solution that solves the problem or diminishes its impact.
  • Adapt to changing situations: Change approach to situations based on unexpected and sudden changes in people’s needs and mood or in trends; shift strategies, improvise and naturally adapt to those circumstances.
  • Comply with the principles of self-defence: Observe the principles according to which a person should only use so much force as is required to repel an attack. The use of deadly force is limited to situations where attackers are using deadly force themselves.
  • Identify suspicious behaviour: Rapidly spot and identify individuals or customers who behave suspiciously and keep them under close observation.
  • Work in shifts: Work in rotating shifts, where the goal is to keep a service or production line running around the clock and each day of the week.
  • Stay alert: Stay focused and alert at all times; react quickly in the case of unexpected events. Concentrate and do not get distracted performing a task over a long period of time.
  • Control crowd: Control a crowd or riot, ensuring people do not cross to areas they are not allowed to access, monitoring the crowd’s behaviour and responding to suspicious and violent behaviour.
  • Manage major incidents: Take immediate action to respond to major incidents that affect the safety and security of individuals in private or public places such as road accidents.
  • Handle conflicts: Mediate in conflicts and tense situations by acting between parties, such as service users, important others like families, and institutions, striving to effect an agreement, reconciliate, and resolve problems.
  • Check subjects: Gather and check all relevant information on a person, company or other subject in the context of an investigation.
  • Identify security threats: Identify security threats during investigations, inspections, or patrols, and perform the necessary actions to minimise or neutralise the threat.
  • Perform security checks: Monitor and check individuals’ bags or personal items in order to make sure the individuals present no threats and that their behaviour is legally compliant.
  • Detain offenders: Keep back offenders and trespassers in a certain area.
  • Liaise with security authorities: Respond quickly to security incidents and violations by calling the police and keep in touch with other relevant parties involved in the potential prosecution of the offender.
  • Execute inspection walkway: Carry out a route in order to verify if all the doors and windows are closed.
  • Practice vigilance: Practice vigilance during patrol or other surveillance activities in order to ensure safety and security, to look out for suspicious behaviour or other alarming changes in patterns or activities, and to respond quickly to these changes.
  • Secure premises: Search premises for potential insecurities or risks. If insecurities are detected, remove them in order to assure the client’s safety.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bodyguard. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • European firearms-control legislation: The regulation regarding the acquisition and possession of weapons on a European Union level by means the Directive 91/477/EEC and the Directive 2008/51/EC.
  • Legal use-of-force: The characteristics of the use-of-force, which is a legal doctrine employed by police and army forces, to regulate acts of violence during interventions. Use-of-force is ought to balance security needs with ethical concerns for the rights and well-being of intruders or suspects.
  • Legal requirements related to ammunition: Legal regulations and requirements in the field of selling, buying, handling and storing ammunition.
  • First response: The procedures of pre-hospital care for medical emergencies, such as first aid, resuscitation techniques, legal and ethical issues, patient assessment, trauma emergencies.
  • Surveillance methods: Surveillance methods used in the gathering of information and intelligence for investigation purposes.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bodyguard. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Identify surveillance devices: Use countersurveillance measures to search and detect surveillance material such as covert listening devices and hidden video devices that are placed in the client’s surroundings such as his office or accommodation in order to gather information on the client.
  • Drive vehicles: Be able to drive vehicles; have the approapriate type of driving license according to the type of motor vehicle used.
  • Assist emergency services: Assist the police and emergency services where needed.
  • Monitor surveillance equipment: Monitor the operation of equipment used in surveillance and gathering of intelligence to ensure it functions properly and to gather the surveillance information detected by it.
  • Ensure compliance with types of weapons: Use different kinds of firearms and other types of weapons and their matching ammunition, in compliance with legal requirements.
  • Assist police investigations: Assist in police investigations by providing them with specialised information as a professional involved in the case, or by providing witness accounts, in order to ensure the police have all relevant information for the case.
  • Identify terrorism threats: Identify the possibility of terrorism activities posing threats and danger in a specific area by monitoring activities of potentially dangerous groups of people, assessing risks in different areas, and gathering intelligence.
  • Interrogate individuals: Interview individuals in such a manner that they give information that could be of use in an investigation and that they possibly tried to conceal.
  • Check official documents: Check an individuals’ official documentation, such as driver’s licenses and identification, to ensure compliance with legal regulations, and to identify and assess individuals.
  • Apply advanced driving techniques: Being capable to effectively steer a vehicle in extreme situations using defensive, evasive or offensive driving.
  • Search for explosive devices: Monitor and search the surroundings and insides of the client’s accommodation, work place and transport routes and detect explosive devices aimed at harming the client.
  • Coordinate patrols: Coordinate the investigation and inspection of a certain area by assigning patrollers to routes and areas, establishing the area that needs patrolling, and coordinating the activities during the patrol.
  • Provide protective escort: Protect the client when he is outside of his accommodation or workplace at an event or on the move, using strategies and meeting all necessary security measures in order to defend the client of possible threats such as assassination or abduction attempts.
  • Provide secured transportation: Manage secured transportation of cash or other valuable cargo, like securities, jewellery or important individuals.
  • Patrol areas: Patrol a designated area, watch out for and respond to suspicious and dangerous situations, and communicate with emergency response organisations.
  • Deal with aggressive behaviour: Respond promptly to adverse behaviour in a professional manner by taking appropriate and legal action to prevent further aggressiveness, such as verbal warning, lawful removal from the premises or apprehension of the person involved. Report details of adverse behaviour in line with the organisation’s procedures.

ISCO group and title

5414 – Security guards

  1. Bodyguard – ESCO
  2. Bodyguard | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Personal Bodyguard Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: By © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on November 17, 2022

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