Security Guards
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Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules. May operate x-ray and metal detector equipment.
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Patrol property
  • Enforce rules and regulations of an employer's property
  • Monitor alarms and video-surveillance systems
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Deter criminal activity
  • Control building access by employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty

Guards and officers must stay alert, watching for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to contact police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards carry firearms.

Security guards work wherever people and assets need to be protected. Responsibilities vary by employer. In offices and factories, for example, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises. 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.

Gambling surveillance officers work in freestanding casinos and other facilities that have designated areas for gambling, such as hotels, video gaming terminals, and riverboats. They typically work from an observation room within the gaming facility.

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.

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment, 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.

Median salary: $31,050 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $26,200 and $39,220.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for security guards and gambling surveillance officers
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Security Guards
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
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 (59%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (52%)
  • Consequence of Error (51%)
  • Unpleasant or Angry People (50%)
  • High Conflict Frequency (45%)
  • Time Pressure (36%)
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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 surveillance officers must communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations.
Interpersonal skills
Security guards often regularly interact with the public; in addition, they must be able to handle and deescalate confrontational situations.
Observation skills
Security guards and surveillance officers must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.
Problem-solving skills
Security guards and surveillance officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.
Injury and Illness
About 87 security guards become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 78% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
All multiple traumatic injuries
Soreness and pain
Education pathways to this career
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 gambling surveillance officers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for security guards

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

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for security guards

Most states require that security guards be licensed by the state in which they work. Although licensing 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 licensed by the appropriate government authority. Positions for armed guards have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than do those for unarmed guards. Most states require rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, for armed guards.

Some states and gaming facilities require a minimum age of 21 to work in a casino.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Education level of Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers
Only 15% of security guards and gambling surveillance officers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by security guards and gambling surveillance officers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
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Programs recommended by the Department of Education
The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click the program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.
Number of degrees awarded in 2018
Education level of awarded degrees
Gender of graduates
Race/origin of graduates
Where are the jobs
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.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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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.
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 gambling 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 gambling surveillance officers.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which security guards and gambling surveillance officers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure 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
Location-adjusted median salary for Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers (ACS for all specialties)
21% of Security guards and gambling surveillance officers are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 21% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 69% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of security guards and gambling surveillance officers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$30K$28K$37K$48K$33K$36K$29K$37K$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
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers and gender
With 23% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 63% of careers.
Gender of Security guards and gambling surveillance officers
Men (77%)
Women (23%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for security guards and gambling surveillance officers, with the median salary for men 9% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Security guards and gambling surveillance officers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Security guards and gambling surveillance officers.
Race/origin of security guards and gambling surveillance officers
White (54% )
Black (31% )
Other (6% )
Multiracial (3% )
Asian (3% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
$28K$28K$28K$29K$31K$31K$32K$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAmerican IndianOtherMultiracialBlackWhiteHispanicAsianPacific Islander
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.