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How Do I Become a Surveillance Operator?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Special training is not usually required to become a surveillance operator, but it helps to have experience and there may be an age requirement for some positions. Working in this field involves monitoring surveillance systems used in settings like casinos, businesses, and public buildings. In the event abnormalities are observed, the operator can contact authorities to request a response. Sharp vision and good attention skills are helpful, as the work can be monotonous and people need to be able to focus to identify problems on surveillance feeds.

Entry level jobs in surveillance can help people build up the experience they need to become operators. Some facilities accept trainees with no experience to become a surveillance operator while others may start new hires on support staff. This allows people to become familiar with the system, learn the protocols at the company, and start to develop observational skills under monitoring from a mentor. With experience, candidates can apply for higher ranking jobs.

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In some settings, there are additional requirements. Casinos, for example, may require that applicants to become a surveillance operator be at least 21 years of age. Some also expect that applicants be familiar with the operation of casino games as well as the rules for the games played in the casino. Being able to spot card counting and other suspicious activities requires an understanding of the games and the ability to detect signs of irregularity that may be subtle to the eye. In an interview, an applicant can provide information about experience that may help on the job.

A gaming license may be required to become a surveillance operator in a casino. The standards to obtain a license can vary, but may include taking some classes and passing an examination. Applicants should be able to show that they are in good standing with regulatory authorities, with current licenses and recent experience in the industry that they can apply to their work. For other surveillance operator jobs, there may be fewer requirements because the regulatory concerns are not as significant.

Room for advancement after someone has become a surveillance operator can depend on the agency. More senior staff might be able to choose the best shifts, allowing them to set up schedules that meet their needs. Supervisor positions can open up for people with experience. These may come with better pay and benefits, especially for those who remain with the company for a long time.

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