No longer are security officers simply guards who patrol business premises after dark. Today’s security officers may be armed or unarmed and provide security at transportation hubs and nuclear facilities.
Security is big business now. Outsourcing by the government and by big businesses led to the creation of large security outsourcing firms and the growth in security jobs is expected to continue for the next several years. The federal government alone has created thousands of jobs offering career opportunities for security officers.
Security Officer Requirements
The rapid growth of opportunities for a career as a security officer has led to higher standards being applied to applicants for the positions. Applicants must be mentally alert, emotionally stable, and physically fit. Those with positions involving contact with the public should be able to demonstrate good communication skills. The ability to express yourself well through speech and writing is necessary.
A high school diploma or GED is usually required to become a security officer. To be licensed in most states, candidates must be 18 years of age, pass a background check, and complete classroom training in subjects such as property rights, emergency procedures, and detention of suspects.
Drug testing is required and may be ongoing and random. A driver’s license is necessary and guards who will be armed must be licensed by the appropriate authority. For some security careers, such as those requiring video surveillance, applicants may need some education beyond the high school level. Security firms that provide armed officers under contract with the government often give hiring preference to those with military or law enforcement experience.
Security Officer Education and Training
Training varies widely and is dependent on the specific job you are hired to do. The focus on basic training is on protocol for reacting to specific problems that might arise. The Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides extensive training to security officers who work at airports, bus terminals, and other government facilities. These positions are referred to as Transportation Security Officer, or TSO.
Training courses for armed security officers are significantly more demanding than those for unarmed officers. Armed guards have formal training in weapons retention, laws covering the use of force, and are often periodically tested in the use of firearms. Firms who provide security officers to businesses and governments may require training on topics such as sharing information with law enforcement personnel, handling evidence, use of force, giving testimony in court, report writing, and emergency procedures. In addition to being licensed, security officers may also become certified. Certification is not mandatory but offers the career security officer a transferable proof of their skills and knowledge.
Security Officer Salary
In addition to full time careers, many people seek part time jobs as security officers to supplement their income. At the lower end of the pay scale are unarmed security officers who patrol properties or provide additional crowd control for public events. Positions that require armed officers to provide high levels of security for weapons installations or nuclear power plants offer salaries commensurate with the responsibility of the job.
A new security officer joining a security firm may earn over $22,000 while officers specializing in gaming surveillance or hired by the government as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) may start their careers at $30,000 or more.
Security Officer Career Opportunities
For those beginning their career as a Security Officer, please take into consideration that the turnover of employees is high. The turnover is due to those moving up into supervisory positions or leaving to move into law enforcement or federal security jobs.
The growing demand and the need to replace experienced workers provides great opportunities for those just beginning their security careers.
Although competition for supervisory level positions can be strong, many security firms and government jobs offer advancement programs and training opportunities to help security officers move up the career and income ladder.
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