How Do I Work in Private Security?

Britt Archer

Security guards are in the business of protection and making sure people and property stay safe. The ability to keep a cool, level head and make good judgment calls is an absolute necessity for people who work in this field. Snagging a private security job means knowing yourself, your abilities and your job and putting that knowledge to good use. Finding a job requires obtaining the right credentials, education and training and putting it all into practice by finding a job that interests you.

Fingerprinting is mandatory when applying for a job in private security.
Fingerprinting is mandatory when applying for a job in private security.

The field of security work is divided into two general sectors, public and private. Public security workers are employed by local, regional or national governments to ensure the safety of public property. Private security contractors function independently of those groups, but may sometimes be contracted by local, regional or national government entities to protect public property.

Different jobs have different requirements for working as a private security guard, and applicants should research each job and its requirements before applying. A job for a private security contractor with one company may require a degree of higher education, for example, while another may require only a basic high school diploma. Even if you don't have a specific job in mind, having a degree in a field like criminal justice, law enforcement or correctional sciences may give you an advantage over others in the field. Higher education can lead to potentially wider employment options and a potentially higher pay rate.

It is advisable to seek out opportunities to follow or learn from experienced professionals. Even with a degree, those seeking a career need to develop skills that aren't taught in classrooms. Staying calm under pressure, verbal and physical self-defense and handling a variety of unexpected situations are just some of the situations inherent in private security work. You should contact local private security firms for an opportunity to learn from those in the field or seek advice from your local law enforcement agency.

Some locations require a license if you wish to act as a private contractor. Licensing requirements vary, but those looking for work in the private security sector can expect to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. Additional training, drug testing and obtaining weapons permits may also be required. Your local department of labor or law enforcement agency can provide more details about the requirements in your jurisdiction.

Finding a job is possibly the hardest task most applicants will face in their careers because, many times, much of the job's nature is freelance or contractual, if an applicant is not hired as a direct employee. Applicants should seek positions with companies and institutions, as well as government entities. You can also advertise your services by word of mouth through friends and family members. You can also submit a resume to a local employment agency to distribute to potential employers.

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