Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
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Security Guards
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Overview
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for security guards are expected to grow by 6%, and should have about 157,700 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Security guards are more likely to be automated than 67% of other careers.
Workforce size
Security guards, with 1,123,300 workers, form a larger workforce than 96% of careers.
Education
Only 15% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by security guards and gaming surveillance officers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer security guards and gaming surveillance officers have bachelor's degrees than 60% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 89% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for security guards. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most security guards.
This job's median $28KAll jobs' median $39K$26K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 23% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers -- that's a smaller percentage than 61% of other jobs.
Gender of security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For security guards and gaming surveillance officers, the median men's salary was 6% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 39% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers are minority, and 14% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of security guards and gaming surveillance officers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (14%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Security Guards per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 44% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers, and 54% have company-sponsored health insurance (14% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for security guards and gaming surveillance officers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of security guards who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (59%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (52%)
  • Consequence of Error (51%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (50%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (45%)
  • Time Pressure (36%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do security guards and gaming surveillance officers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group security guards and gaming surveillance officers, which combines the data for 2 careers, including security guards. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data is classified by SOC specialty, and excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for security guards, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for security guards compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for security guards (BLS Salary Data)
$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$28K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. Additionally, we only have ACS survey data for the larger career category and not for the specialty level. We first show the full salary distribution for all security guards and gaming surveillance officers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for security guards and gaming surveillance officers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for security guards and gaming surveillance officers (ACS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where security guards work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers (ACS)
Private for-profit (77.5%)
Private not-for-profit (5.2%)
Local government (5.5%)
State government (4.5%)
Federal government (6.5%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.3%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.5%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of security guards and gaming surveillance officers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of security guards and gaming surveillance officers, which combines the 2 specialties for this career.
$29K$28K$27K$36K$32K$37K$47K$36K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of security guards by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty security guards, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$28K$41K$33K$28K$34K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for security guards and gaming surveillance officers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$26K$30K$34K$33K$32K$21K$32K$30K$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
050K100K150KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers and gender

With 23% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 61% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
23%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Men (77%)
Women (23%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for security guards and gaming surveillance officers, with the median salary for men 6% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$28K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 83% of other jobs.

6%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of security guards and gaming surveillance officers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority security guards and gaming surveillance officers than for 96% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of security guards and gaming surveillance officers
White (55% )
Black (31% )
Other (5% )
Asian (3% )
Multiracial (3% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
39%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
14%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for security guards and gaming surveillance officers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$26K$27K$28K$28K$30K$31K$31K$36K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherAmerican IndianBlackMultiracialWhiteAsianHispanicPacific Islander
Distribution: Salaries for security guards and gaming surveillance officers by nativity
$29K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by security guards

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), security guards typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as security guards and gaming surveillance officers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

Education attained by security guards and gaming surveillance officers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for security guards

Security guards generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Gaming surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent and may need experience with video surveillance technology depending upon assignment.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for security guards

Most states require that security guards be registered with the state in which they work. Although registration requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

Guards who carry weapons usually must be registered by the appropriate government authority. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards. Rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, are required for armed guards in most states.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for security guards and gaming surveillance officers? Below we see the distribution of security guards and gaming surveillance officers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as security guards and gaming surveillance officers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$23K$27K$30K$31K$37K$42K$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (5%)High School (36%)Some College (33%)Associate's Degree (11%)Bachelor's Degree (13%)Master's Degree (2%)Professional Deg/Doct (0%)
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for security guards and gaming surveillance officers

What jobs will most security guards and gaming surveillance officers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance OfficersFirst-Line Supervisors of Protective Service WorkersPolice officersBailiffs, correctional officers, and jailersTransportation security screenersRetail salespersons
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for security guards and gaming surveillance officers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 2 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as security guards and gaming surveillance officers as well as 1% of respondents after working as security guards and gaming surveillance officers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Police officers
49,900
$0$200K$62K
First-Line Supervisors of Protective Service Workers
7,700
$0$200K$48K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for security guards and gaming surveillance officers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as security guards and gaming surveillance officers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of security guards and gaming surveillance officers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
1.2%
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
159,200
$0$200K$29K
54.1%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.6%
Police officers
49,900
$0$200K$62K
1.5%
First-Line Supervisors of Protective Service Workers
7,700
$0$200K$48K
1.7%
No occupation
11.3%
Read about security guards
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce laws and protect an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Control building access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Detain violators

Guards and officers must remain alert, looking out for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards are armed.

A security guard’s responsibilities vary from one employer to another. In retail stores, guards protect people, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

In offices and factories, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Security guards work in many other environments, because they work wherever people and assets need to be protected.

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment in an observation room, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of security guards? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Communication skills
Security guards and officers must communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations.
Good judgment
Security guards and officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.
Observation skills
Security guards and officers must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.
Patience
Security guards and officers may need to spend long periods standing and observing their environment without distractions.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for security guards
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 89% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for security guards. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $28KAll jobs' median $39K$27K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for security guards are anticipated to grow by 6% over the next decade; 57% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for security guards is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20002010202020300500,0001,000,0001,500,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most security guards? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as security guards. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all security guards and gaming surveillance officers, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Security Guards per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.010.020.030.040.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where security guards earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for security guards and gaming surveillance officers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all security guards and gaming surveillance officers, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Median salary ratio: Security Guards to all workers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which security guards earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
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Knowledge
Physical Abilities
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