10 Pros and Cons of Being a Security Guard
Updated January 26, 2023
Security guards are personnel who guard company assets like property, money or people. Being a security guard comes with both pros and cons. Understanding these pros and cons can help you determine if becoming a security guard is the right career choice for you. In this article, we explore the career path of a security guard and list 10 pros and cons of being a security guard so you can make an informed career decision.
What's the difference between a security guard and a security officer?
Security guards and officers are often mistaken for one another. A security guard and security officer do have similar duties, but security officers tend to hold more managerial-focused positions. For example, a security officer might oversee a team of 10 security guards. They schedule shifts, allocate training resources, evaluate performance and provide support and experience for the team. This important role distinction can help ensure you're choosing the right career path. Managerial positions may require several years of experience or specific educational credentials.
Read more: How To Become a Security Guard
Pros and cons of being a security guard
Being a security guard comes with many pros and cons. To properly explore the career path, it's important to understand both the benefits and drawbacks of the position to gain a more balanced, clear understanding of your role as a security guard. Here are 10 pros and cons of being a security guard:
Here are five pros of being a security guard:
1. You can work flexible hours
Security guards often have the option to work flexible hours, such as night shifts, weekends or even normal working hours. Depending on the tasks of the job, you might work a full day shift or several smaller shifts throughout your day. Many guards work holidays, which can offer more opportunities to earn extra money and experience. Consider seeking a job as a security guard if you want a more flexible schedule to create more personal time.
2. You can spend more time on your feet
Security guards often walk routes or patrol large areas, which requires them to spend much of their time on their feet. This can be a great career choice for someone who opposes traditional office settings where they might spend hours sitting in a chair, or for someone who likes to work outdoors. You can stay active while earning a living and even get into better physical shape while performing your job. Typically, a security guards spend a large portion of their shift walking or moving, but some guards sit at a desk or monitor watching cameras and controlling building entryways.
3. You provide a valuable service
Security guards provide a much-needed and valuable service for their employers. They can guard anything from money to property and help protect a business' assets and prevent loss. Security guards can prevent intruders from entering a workplace and even guard trade secrets for the company. You may find immense satisfaction in knowing that you stand between criminals and the company's assets. Companies typically show their appreciation for such services through unique benefits packages and competitive wages, so you might also earn more in certain security roles.
4. You can learn self-defense
Some security guards learn different methods of self-defense or how to operate a firearm. They also learn important security protocols and measures to take in the event of an intruder, natural disaster or other event. This information can be useful outside of work, at home or in your personal life. Understanding self-defense and basic security measures can help you create a more secure home and potentially protect yourself when you're out in public. Not all security roles require such extensive training, but certain roles only accept applications for guards with extensive self-defense or firearms knowledge.
5. You won't need a college degree
Some security officers in management positions possess a college degree, but overall, you don't need a degree to become a security guard. This means you can avoid accumulating student debt and immediately start earning a living once you find a job in security. Some security guards do require licensing, but the licensure depends on the kind of guard and state of operation.
While being a security guard can offer many pros or benefits, there are also some cons to consider. Here are five common cons of being a security guard:
1. You might face dangerous situations
Security guards act as an onsite deterrent against crime, but that doesn't always mean that no crimes occur while they're on duty. As a security guard, you may face potentially dangerous situations with criminals. These situations require good training, patience and problem-solving skills to navigate. While most security guards never experience an incident in their careers, it's still important to prepare yourself to be ready in case of an emergency. The more prepared you are, the better you can respond to any situation.
2. Your salary might be low
The average national salary for a security guard is around $32,111 per year. While this salary is slightly lower than other jobs, you can still increase your earnings through overtime opportunities, holiday work or in-demand working hours. For example, you might work for a security company that pays more for night-shift employees. You also might find work guarding high-profile assets or people that offer higher pay for higher risks. It's important to explore any opportunities that present themselves to ensure you're earning the highest possible salary.
Related: How To Become a Prison Guard
3. You might work night shifts
While flexible hours may be a benefit for some, the possibility of working night shifts can be a con for others. Working the night shift requires you to stay awake and alert throughout the nighttime hours, which can be tiring. Security guards who take night shift hours become accustomed to the hours and eventually get less tired after each shift. It's important to understand that your employer might require you to work night shifts, so consider whether you're able to or want to work those hours before pursuing a security guard career.
4. You may not have many advancement opportunities
As a security guard, there sometimes isn't much room to advance. You can become a security officer or supervisor, which can offer slightly better hours and pay. From there, it's more difficult to achieve a higher salary or position without extra education. For example, if you want to become a security consultant or analyst, you might pursue a bachelor's degree to support your experience in security. Some security guards start their own businesses, offering security consulting or contractor security services. Starting as a security guard is a great way to learn about the industry and gain valuable experience.
5. You might experience burnout
With potentially long hours, night shifts and overtime, some security guards may experience burnout. Burnout is a sensation that occurs when someone works too hard for several weeks, months or years and begins feeling tired or uninterested. You can avoid burnout in your career as a security guard by looking for new opportunities at different locations, requesting different hours and committing your time to increasing specific skills.
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