How to Become a Security Guard


My introduction to security was in rural Australia during the era best described as the “wild west”. Security companies and their employees really were “cowboys”. They did what ever they wanted with zero accountability. There was nothing out there that showed you how to become a security guard. The industry was unregulated, training was minimal if any, and for clients it would have been like playing “”pin the tail on the donkey because when it came to getting a good security guard it was more a miss than a perfect hit. Vetting potential guards was the business owners’ responsibility which was not worth the inconvenience so for many businesses having security became a liability. They were a health hazard to themselves, detrimental to business and a danger to the public.

Thank goodness those days are well and truly gone. The modern security guard has a broader scope of roles and responsibilities and must meet specific criteria to be considered. It means there is a uniformed standard of care and professionalism expected of the industry by its stakeholders and the public.

Do you Have What it Takes? Most of Us Do

Because most security jobs are entry level you’re starting point typically is at least a high school diploma. I’ve put together a checklist of attributes that you should have if you’re considering this career path.

  • Be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing
  • Be able to think quickly and critically on your feet
  • Be reasonably fit
  • Be able to provide good customer and public service
  • In some countries where it is required, you should be legally allowed to carry a handgun,
  • You must be able to use good judgment in critical situations
  • Have basic knowledge of public safety and security
  • Have a basic knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern the security industry
  • Be able to work independently and within a team
  • Have completed security guard job training

Tick all the boxes and you are well on your way to becoming a security guard.

Security Training – Brain Flexing Time

Security guards must complete a training course before being considered for work. It is compulsory. These training requirements vary depending on particular countries regulatory requirements. In the U.S. And Australia it can even be different still from state to state. Topics that would may be discussed in a training course may include and not limited to the following list;

  • Introduction to the Security Industry
  • The Law pertaining to Security and Investigative Services
  • Basic Security Procedures
  • Report Writing
  • Health and Safety
  • Emergency Response Preparation
  • The Legal System
  • Legal Authorities
  • Effective Communications
  • Sensitivity and Cultural Training
  • Use of Force Theory
  • Emergency Level First Aid Certification

Of course armed security guards would need more extensive training because of firearms use and or batons, which will require a license. It is also expected that ongoing training in best practices, the use of force, and updates to local laws is common for security guards.

Most of these courses offered will have a theoretical and practical component. The best type of training in my view is that which has a heavy scenario based component. You can teach something to a student 5 or 6 times before he understands something and forget it as soon as he leaves the room. I have seen in my own classes, the power of practical scenario based training. Not only does the student understand what’s taught the first time, retention and recall of what has been taught increases exponentially.

What Does Security Do – What Don’t They Do?

There are many businesses who employ security guards, including banks, airports, museums, hospitals, nightclubs, and retail stores and shopping malls. You will most likely work for a security company who is contracted by one or a group of businesses to provide this service or you could work for yourself and contract yourself out. In my working life I did both. And there are pros and cons for both.

Security guard specialties include retail loss prevention, armored vehicle guards (they transport and protect money and valuables from one location to another), gaming surveillance officers, bouncers, crowd controllers and event security guards.
With more specialized and specific training you can be employed as a bodyguard, armed maritime security operator a security supervisor or manager. I have had some of my own security guards go on to become police or law enforcement officers. They all studied while working full-time to earn higher qualifications and eventually found employment in criminal justice or IT security. They always mentioned how invaluable the security guard experience was for them to go on to do better things.

Choose Your Path

There is so much more you can do in the industry than the usual stereotypical and conventional security jobs out there. I started from the bottom many years ago but I wasn’t afraid or too arrogant to turn any position down.

Never think you know everything because if you walk away learning the smallest thing will help you further down the track. It also promotes noticing the detail which enhances your observation one of the most tools of your trade.

It is clear that choosing this career path requires a certain kind of person. We have established there are personal attributes and skills. There is compulsory training and regulatory requirements and there are many aspects of security you can branch into with ongoing training. In my experience security work can be exciting and at times mundane but it can also be very rewarding.

Good luck and go well.





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