What Are a Security Guard's Top Duties? (With Career Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 September 2022 | Published 3 January 2022

Updated 22 September 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A security guard is a very important role as they act as a deterrent to crime, preventing it from happening by keeping watch for any suspicious behaviour at their workplace. If you're interested in protecting property and people and have a keen sense of justice, you might consider a job as a security guard. Knowing what a security guard is and what their duties are can help you decide if it's the right career path for you. In this article, we discuss a security guard's top duties, explore their skills and salary and learn how to become one.

What are a security guard's top duties?

A security guard's top duties may vary depending on the place of work, but some may remain common. A security guard generally ensures that they're protecting and guarding the people and property in the area. They play an important role in protecting anything important in a certain area and you can usually find security guards in retail malls, construction sites, private properties, hospitals or even high profile VIP's homes.

If there are any issues arising, such as any suspicious behaviour or criminal activity, a security guard is around to solve the issue or be the first to contact the authorities. Some of the top duties of a security guard may include:

  • verifying people's identity to make sure no unauthorised people can enter a building without credentials or guest passes

  • monitoring video footage or surveillance footage for any suspicious behaviour or activity in an area

  • using metal detectors to perform bag checks of people entering or leaving an area

  • educating employees on proper security requirements and procedures

  • performing routine checks and inspections of private and commercial areas

  • liaising with law enforcement and authorities on any incidents and complying with the procedures on any security issues

  • preventing criminal activity and detaining suspicious persons when they damage property, steal or perform any other crimes

  • escorting any visitors or important people to prime locations within a building

Related: What Does a Security Guard Do? Important Skills and Duties

Other additional duties a security guard may perform can include:

  • greeting employees or customers at the entrance of a property to building

  • checking visitors in and out of private property

  • training junior security guards

  • patrolling private properties and buildings on foot

  • patrolling a large private area in a car

  • reporting any incidents and preparing incident reports

Related: How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst (Duties and Skills)

Important skills for a security guard

A security guard may have various skills depending on the location and field in which they're working. For example, a security guard in a retail mall may be required to look out for suspicious behaviour, but a security guard at a private office complex may also conduct bag checks to ensure there're no illegal items in visitors' bags. Still, a security guard may require a set of skills to be successful, which they can develop through experience or training. Here are some important skills a security guard may require to be successful:

  • Attention to detail: A security guard generally keeps watch for suspicious behaviour or activity and is aware of their surroundings throughout their shift, so that they can act on any threats if necessary.

  • Judgement: A security guard usually monitors a location and may require judging any situation that can be unsafe to decide what the best way is to handle such situations.

  • Patience: They may require patience, as they usually work long shifts and may require full attention to notice any suspicious activities in the area.

  • Technology: A security guard may use word processing programs or spreadsheets to enter data or write incident reports on a computer, so they may require IT software knowledge to perform their duties.

  • Communication: When there are any safety breaches, a security guard may require communicating with visitors, employees or authorities. Strong communication skills can help them provide information clearly and quickly during high-pressure situations.

  • Compliance: A security guard complies strictly with all organisational policies and procedures during their shift, and having a strong sense of compliance can help them know what rules to adhere to in times of need.

  • Ethics: A security guard's crucial role is to ensure a business, building or property's safety, which usually requires a strong sense of obligation and ethics to perform their job passionately.

  • Physical fitness: Since security guards patrol around an area or may stand and walk for long periods, they may require a high level of fitness to perform their job. Sometimes, they may run to chase a suspect if needed.

  • Decision-making: A security guard may require making quick decisions during emergencies, since they may have little time to react. This can include quickly deciding if a person is a threat to themselves or others, so they can quickly detain or restrain them.

Related: 10 Employability Skills You Can Develop (With Definition)

Work environment of a security officer

Security guards may work in a variety of locations, including retail malls, private properties, casinos, schools, office complexes, airports or construction areas. They may also work in different industries, like gambling, health care, food and beverage or the government. Security guards may also work long shifts, either during the day or overnight or weekend shifts. Security guards who work in the day may require interacting with large crowds regularly, like in a retail mall, while security guards with a night shift may require working alone to stay alert for any criminal activity.

Sometimes, security guards may sit for long periods reviewing security footage, while others may spend long hours on their feet walking around the property to patrol it. Security guards may also require running after suspects or using physical strength to detain them if required. While there may be long periods of relaxation during the job, there can also be high-pressure situations they may face depending on the situation and position they have within a company.

Related: How to Become a Security Consultant (With Career Steps)

How to become a security officer

If you're interested in becoming a security officer, you may require undergoing training sessions to become one. Here are some steps you may follow to become a security officer:

1. Complete secondary school or a diploma

Security officers usually require being at least 21 years old to get the role. While you may not require a bachelor's degree, a secondary school qualification or diploma can be useful, since it can show that you've been through some language training and can communicate well with others while handling your job duties. A diploma in security can also be useful since the course can equip you with the skills to manage any security situations or procedures.

2. Get pre-job training

Getting pre-job training can be very important to become a security guard. This training can teach you the basics of security handling and how to handle high-pressure or dangerous situations that you may experience on the job. If you're planning on becoming a security guard, you may require completing the training before you get a security licence.

3. Pass a background check

As a security guard, you may require a clean background with no past criminal offence or activity. You may require passing a background check to qualify to become a security guard at any company. Some companies may also require passing a drug test during the interview. If you're hired for the role, the company may also test you for drugs occasionally on the job.

4. Obtain a security licence

If you want to become a security guard, you're required to get a private security licence from the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department (PLRD) before you can apply for a role. You can apply for the three security guard courses under the Basic Licensing Unit (BLUs) and successfully pass the courses before you can apply for the licence. Two weeks after completing the courses, you can apply for your PLRD security officer licence, which can allow you to work as a security guard.

How much does a security officer earn

The average base salary of a security guard is $2,037 a month. This salary may vary depending on the type of security guard you are, the industry you're working in and the company for which you work. For example, a security guard working at a retail mall may earn less than a private security guard working at a celebrity's private property. With years of experience on the job, a security guard's salary may increase as they become more knowledgeable.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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