Security guards have a widely varied set of duties and mandates. Some of them are armed, some are not, some are a visible public presence, acting as a physical deterrent, and some sit behind monitors and watch video camera surveillance. Regardless of this vast range, all security guards have the same basic responsibilities: to protect property and customers in a public or private space. Many security guards are retired law-enforcement officers, while others have experience in loss prevention or criminology. A keen eye, professional attitude, and quick response time are the keys to success in this position. Security guards need to be able to scan a situation without being distracted, recognize and respond appropriately to threats and maintain an efficient, capable air. The average salary for a security guard is $24,400, with job opportunities expected to expand 18% by the end of the decade.
Many of the skills necessary to succeed in security work cannot be exhibited on a resumé or in a job interview. Attributes such as vigilance and focus cannot be evaluated based on a one-on-one conversation, but they can be revealed using aptitude and skills tests. The Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST) assesses basic verbal and math skills, as well as attention to detail, and contains a specific suggested score range for security guards based on normative data gathered from across the US. The Criteria Attention Skills Test (CAST) is another test employers often use when screening security guards, as it measures vigilance, focus and concentration. The CAST analyzes an individual's reaction time, selective attention, and divided attention, making excellent tool for predicting if a candidate will thrive in jobs that require undivided attention, such as security guards, casino game dealers, and video surveillance workers. Finally, since employers hiring security guards also highly value reliable, trustworthy employees, many will also use a personality test such as the Workplace Productivity Profile (WPP), a behavioral risk assessment that will help them reduce the risk of employees that may be unreliable or prone to engaging in counterproductive workplace habits.
All security guards must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Those hired as armed guards have usually completed college-level coursework and receive additional training. All guards need to be capable communicators and quick thinkers, and they need to know whether to respond with force or verbal interaction when conflict arises.
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Rank in HireSelect:
64 out of 1,100
Median wage in U.S.:
$28,040/yr or $13.48/hr
Expected growth rate 2012-2022:
Number employed (2014): 1,077,520
Education level of Security Guards: