Security guard

A security guard


Security guards observe, detect irregularities and protect people, buildings and assets. They maintain security at all times by patrolling designated property areas, controlling access at entrances, watching alarm and video recording systems, asking suspicious individuals for identification and reporting infractions and law breaching activities.

Security guards typically do the following:

  • Perform patrol duties at various work sites of buildings and grounds.
  • Check, inspect and determine gates, main and rear doors, windows and backyards are secure.
  • Inspect and verify equipment and machinery if they are in good condition.
  • Check and inspect work premises for any water pipe, leakages, fire hazards and other risk factors.
  • Guard company’s property and assets against thefts and fire hazards.
  • Check and screen visitors entering the guarded premises.
  • Permit only visitors who are authorized to enter the premises.
  • Monitor and report rules violations like loitering and smoking at a work place.
  • Ensure that employees do not carry in or carry out any forbidden articles or items.
  • Ensure strict adherence to corporate security laws and regulations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to security guard:

corporate security guard
security chief
plant security guard
security professional
event security guard
security manager
security supervisor
garage security guard
pre-boarding security guard
parks guardian
cemetery guard
airport security guard
stadium guard
garden guardian
building security guard

Working conditions

Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, stores, and office buildings. They may spend considerable time on their feet patrolling buildings and grounds or may sit for long periods at a single post, such as in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community. Others may spend periods of time in a vehicle, patrolling the property and grounds.

Security guards may also spend much of their shift sitting at a desk or counter in a dark room, observing customers on video surveillance equipment. They may have to monitor activity on multiple screens for long periods of time without distraction.

Work Schedules

Security guards usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common. Most security guards work full time. Seasonal work may be available during the holidays and during the warmer summer months in some locations.

Minimum qualifications

Security guards typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not require formal educational credentials.

Most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards and surveillance officers. Employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, crime prevention, and proper communication. Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically in the use of firearms.

Drug testing may be required both as a condition of employment and randomly during employment. Other requirement for this position include background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, depending on the employer and the job location. In some cases, a valid driver’s license may be necessary.

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.

Security guard is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Security guard career path

Similar occupations

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

security guard supervisor
gate guard
door supervisor
security alarm investigator

Long term prospects

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

store detective
hand luggage inspector
police detective
court bailiff
police inspector

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

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

  • 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 security guard.

  • 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.
  • Perform body searches: Examine visitors by performing a body search, in order to detect weapons or illegal substances.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • 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.
  • Maintain facility security systems: Ensure that proper and functional security systems are in place, including alarm systems, fire alarms, sprinklers and emergency exits.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Patrol areas: Patrol a designated area, watch out for and respond to suspicious and dangerous situations, and communicate with emergency response organisations.
  • 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.
  • Ensure law application: Ensure the laws are followed, and where they are broken, that the correct measures are taken to ensure compliance to the law and law enforcement.
  • Execute inspection walkway: Carry out a route in order to verify if all the doors and windows are closed.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

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

  • Alarm systems: Security systems in buildings and on properties automatically alarming security companies or producing acoustic or audio-visual signals when break-in, theft or damage of property is detected.
  • Explosives: Behaviour of explosives, pyrotechnics and blasting techniques. Associated risks and legal requirements.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Security in industrial buildings: Security procedures, characteristics, tasks and risks encountered in industrial areas such as factories, ports, warehouses and mines.
  • Fire safety regulations: The legal rules to be applied for fire safety and fire prevention in a facility.
  • Legal requirements related to ammunition: Legal regulations and requirements in the field of selling, buying, handling and storing ammunition.
  • Criminal law: The legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishment of offenders.
  • Illegal substances: The forbidden substances which cannot be transported from one area to another, or carried by an individual, as well as their nature and how to handle them.
  • Security in commercial buildings: Security procedures, characteristics, tasks and risks in commercial areas and institutions such as banks, malls, tourist spots, hotels and restaurants.
  • 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 security guard. 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.
  • 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.
  • Exercise security in hospitals: Security activities in a hospital environment executing the hospitals structured security program, usually positioned at admission or the entrance of the hospital, patrolling the premises, helping nurses and doctors on demand.
  • Inspect cargo: Conduct quality checks on cargo before loading and after unloading commences. Ensure total on-board cargo load is secure.
  • Monitor parking areas to maintain security: Monitor the entry and exit routes within the parking areas and report on any hazards, accidents or violations.
  • Ensure security on ships: Conduct security taking into account the specific security and safety measures on passenger and commercial ships.
  • Provide door security: Spot and monitor individuals or groups of people at the door who intend to enter the premises unlawfully or have potential for causing threats.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Manage lost and found articles: Make sure that all articles or objects lost are identified and that the owners get them back in their possession.
  • Ensure accurate screening of luggage in aerodromes: Screen luggage items in aerodrome through use of CBS system; conduct troubleshooting and identify fragile or oversized baggage.
  • Regulate traffic: Regulate the flow of traffic by using assigned hand signals, assisting travellers on the road, and aiding people to cross the street.
  • Handle surveillance equipment: Monitor surveillance equipment to observe what people are doing in a given area and ensure their safety.
  • 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.
  • Ensure hotel security: Guarantee the security of guests and the premises by monitoring the hotel premises.
  • Provide security in detention centres: Ensuring security and to some extent intercultural communication in detention centres holding individuals for crimes, illegal immigration or refugees.
  • Conduct airport security screening: Monitor passenger flow through the screening checkpoint and facilitate the orderly and efficient processing of passengers; inspect luggage and cargo following screening procedures.
  • Document security incidents in the store: Prepare documentation and specific reports of the security threats, observations and incidents, such as shoplifting, that occur in the store, to be used as evidence against the offender, if required.
  • Carry out security activities with a dog: Use specially trained dogs to search specific areas or surveil properties in order to detect threats or individuals.
  • Ensure store security: Implement and monitor security measures within the store; be vigilant about shoplifters and fraudulent use of credit cards.

ISCO group and title

5414 – Security guards

  1. Security guard – ESCO
  2. Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. List of Security Guard Responsibilities and Duties – Great Sample Resume
  4. Featured image: Photo by Samuel Wölfl
Last updated on November 19, 2022

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