What Is a Courtesy Officer?

Updated June 24, 2022

Many apartment complexes hire personnel to ensure the safety and protection of the apartment's residents and the physical premises. While these professionals often go by different names, they perform similar job duties. Courtesy officer is the most popular term for this role, but it's not the only name to know about. In this article, we explain what a courtesy officer is, highlight what courtesy officers do, describe the work environment for courtesy officers, delineate the differences between courtesy officers and security guards and illustrate how to become a courtesy officer.

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What is a courtesy officer?

A courtesy officer is a security professional who provides surveillance and basic protection to the residents and property of an apartment complex or similar housing location. Courtesy officers' primary function is to keep everyone in the community safe. Often, courtesy officers are former or off-duty law enforcement professionals who already have the necessary skills and training to perform the work.

Related: How to Become a Security Guard

What does a courtesy officer do?

Courtesy officers can have a range of job duties depending on the size of the complex in which they work, the layout, the amenities and a number of other factors. The most common job duties for a courtesy officer include:

  • Patrol the premises: The primary duty of a courtesy officer is to patrol the community in which they work. Usually, this means performing walkthroughs of both high- and low-traffic areas around the residences and any public areas like pools or laundry rooms.

  • Work on-call: Many courtesy officers work on-call, meaning, after they perform their patrolling shift, they're often responsible for taking emergency calls during their off-hours. This specific duty can vary from position to position.

  • Complete reports: Most courtesy officers complete daily reports at the end of their shift, detailing what they did and what they saw.

  • Report serious incidents: In some instances, courtesy officers must call law enforcement or remove unwanted parties from the premises. In the case of a serious occurrence, most courtesy officers are required to immediately notify the complex's management team about incidents.

  • Build relationships: It's imperative that courtesy officers build relationships with the tenants in the complex, so they feel comfortable with the courtesy officer's presence and feel good approaching them with questions and concerns.

  • Assess vehicles: Many courtesy officers patrol parking areas and structures to ensure the protection of the resident's vehicles.

  • Attend meetings: Courtesy officers are often required to attend resident meetings and management meetings.

  • Recommend procedures: The complex's management team may seek advice and guidance from the courtesy officer regarding potential improvements to security resources and tools.

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Work environment for a courtesy officer

Most courtesy officers work in apartment complexes in which the residents live in separate buildings on a large campus. However, courtesy officers can also work in other types of housing or for businesses or business parks. Generally, the courtesy officer does not have an office or other consistent workspace. Instead, they're usually on patrol or located in a central, easy-to-see location for residents to approach them with questions or concerns.

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Apartment courtesy officer vs. security guard

Courtesy officers and security guards may have different job titles, but the work they perform is often very similar. The primary difference between a courtesy officer and a security guard is their employer:

Apartment courtesy officer

Often, the apartment complex hires a courtesy officer as an internal employee and a member of the management staff. In some cases, the courtesy officer lives on-site as a tenant and receives reduced rent in place of or in addition to their compensation for performing their role as a courtesy officer. These professionals usually dress less formally than security guards and may wear a polo shirt with the logo of the complex on it rather than a security uniform.

Apartment security guard

Security guards are usually contractors the apartment complex hires through a security guard agency. They rarely live on the premises, and the agency may provide a number of rotating security guards for the property rather than a single individual. Usually, security guards dress more formally than courtesy officers, with their attire looking more like that of a police officer or other law enforcement professional.

How to become a courtesy officer

If you're interested in becoming a courtesy officer, follow these steps:

1. Finish high school

Most apartment complexes expect and require their courtesy officers to have a high school diploma. While in school, work on developing skills like relationship building and observation.

2. Gain experience

Most courtesy officers have a number of years of experience working in security. Look for opportunities to provide security as a profession or on a volunteer basis to build your resume.

3. Develop applicable skills

Most courtesy officers need to have a number of specific skills to help them perform their jobs well. Spend your time developing your patience, ability to communicate with others and organization to ensure you're prepared for the demands of the position.

4. Work in law enforcement

The vast majority of courtesy officers, particularly those who work overnight or on-call, are current or former law enforcement professionals. Consider a job in law enforcement if you want to easily moonlight as a courtesy officer.

5. Ask your apartment manager

Many apartment complexes hire their courtesy managers from their existing pool of tenants. If you have the applicable experience, speak with your apartment complex manager about working as a courtesy manager. You can do the same when you're looking for a new place to live and look for courtesy manager openings that coincide with the communities you want to live in.

Best practices for courtesy officers

Consider these best practices for courtesy officers:

  • Set boundaries: Establish what your duties are with the management team before you begin working as a courtesy officer. Both of you should know exactly how you'll respond to a number of hypothetical security situations.

  • Know when to call: Know in advance who you should call for what level of issue. For example, ask the management team if they want a call anytime you encounter a non-resident in the pool or if it's fine to report it the next day.

  • Build relationships: Take the time to build relationships with the tenants in the complex. It will make your job easier and help you notice when non-residents are using amenities they shouldn't have access to.


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