The job of a security guard is to protect property from fire as well as from illegal activities such as terrorism, theft and vandalism. Some, not all, security guards are armed. While employers may not require unarmed security guards to have specific educational requirements, they normally seek potential employees with at least a high school diploma or equivalent when hiring a position for armed security guard. Employers typically provide on-the-job training for their guards.
Most states have licensing or certification requirements for security guards. Normally, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age, complete training on emergency procedures, property rights and state laws involving detention of potential criminals. There may also be periodic drug testing. Armed security guards undergo additional training and certification, as well as a more stringent background check. Armed guards typically make more money than unarmed security guards do to compensate for the additional requirements and responsibilities that come with being armed.
The average hourly wage for security guards, according to the May 2010 report posted by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor and Statistics, was $12.92 an hour. This included all security guards in the study, armed and unarmed. A reasonable estimation after analyzing the data is that armed security guards would likely make more than $12.92 an hour, as armed guards tend to make more than what unarmed guards earn.
The median wage is different from the average wage. To arrive at the hourly average salary of a group of employees, you divide the sum of each employee’s hourly wage by the number of the employees in the sample group. When arriving at a median wage, you divide the group in half, with the lowest paid on one half, and the highest paid on the other half. The median hourly wage is the wage that falls between the two groups. Half of the group makes less than median wage, and half earns more. The median wage for security guards, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics May 2010 report was $11.50. The highest paid in the study group was $19.83. Therefore, armed security guards may earn between $12.92 and $19.83 an hour.
The amount armed security guards can earn can also varies by state. According to the same report, the average wage for security guards in general for the District of Columbia was $18.21 an hour, while it was just $11.18 in Florida. Client Protective Services Inc. states that unarmed security guards in Virginia earn between $7.25 to $11.00 an hour. It also states that additional certification, such as being armed, may increase the hourly wage to $16. However, Client Protective Services also claims that the economic downturn has increased competition, meaning some armed guards in Virginia might earn from $8 to $10 an hour.
2016 Salary Information for Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers earned a median annual salary of $25,830 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, security guards and gaming surveillance officers earned a 25th percentile salary of $21,340, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $34,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,134,000 people were employed in the U.S. as security guards and gaming surveillance officers.
- Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
- Client Protective Services Inc.: FAQs about becoming a Security Guard in Virginia
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
- Career Trend: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
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