Have you ever thought of working as a security guard? Part-time, casual jobs are widely available, especially at retail outlets such as supermarkets and clothes shops.
It’s a challenging job but very rewarding, as you’ll work to protect people and assets from theft and other criminal activity.
Security guards have to be quick thinkers and calm under pressure. Start out on a casual basis and it could even lead to a fulfilling long-term career.
Keep reading for the lowdown on entry requirements, working conditions, and the all-important question: how much you could make.
What are the entry requirements for security guards?
Have a browse online and you’ll see many openings with no specific requirements. You won’t need qualifications to work as a security guard at a supermarket for example. This is a good role to get a feel for the work and see how it suits you.
It’s a popular job for those who’ve worked in the police and armed forces, but great security guards come from all walks of life.
According to security and fire news site IFSEC Global, candidates will need a “reasonable level of physical strength and fitness”. This is judged on an individual basis, so if you’re interested and think you have what it takes, it’s always worth applying.
Customer service skills are also useful when dealing with the public. Men and women of working age who are confident in their fitness abilities are welcome to apply.
What about security guard careers?
Many people work in security as a part-time filler, perhaps in the evenings or to top up income alongside other jobs.
But working as a security guard can also be a fulfilling career. You could start out in retail and then take it a step further and branch into other areas: High-profile security posts include guarding corporate and government offices, airports, or assets like secure vehicles.
Many of these roles require an SIA (Security Industry Authority) license. This shows that you have a right to work in the UK and have passed the criminal background checks.
Having a criminal record isn’t always a barrier to entry; the Home Office website has a checker to indicate if you’ll be accepted.
See this Home Office page for plenty more info on applying for the SIA.
What’s it like to work as a security guard?
Roles vary greatly depending on the job. You could be standing at storefront entrances, patrolling, and doing checks if you suspect someone of theft.
Many security roles involve CCTV monitoring, especially at large commercial and industrial companies. This is sometimes done in teams at larger organisations.
At an airport, you could be checking passengers and aircraft for suspicious items, or conducting pre-flight screening.
Security guards often work outdoors, so you could be out in all weather conditions. But many guard jobs are indoor-only.
Jobs may be done in shifts, so you might work mornings or evenings, weekdays or weekends. That said, many guards have regular work slots (for example, only early mornings or evenings).
Look around for jobs that fit your specific needs. Not all security guards work nights or weekends, so don’t be put off if that doesn’t sound like your thing.
Common workplaces for security guards
- High street shops
- Office buildings
- Industrial estates
- Power stations
- Galleries and museums
- Sports stadiums
- Banks (including secure vehicles)
What are the perceptions of security guards?
Being a security guard is a rewarding and important job, but a lot of people look at the industry negatively.
EastEnders star Katie Jarvis was recently featured in a Daily Star article, criticised for working as a shop security guard. She spoke in defense of people who are shamed despite doing honest work, and how the life of an actor often involves stop-gap jobs to maintain income.
The truth is the world relies on security guards. Without protection at factories, offices, airports and more, many industries would crumble.
It’s a tough job, and would-be thieves and other criminals can get defensive and even violent when they’re challenged. But a good security guard keeps the general public safe from harm, and it’s a role you can be proud of.
How much do security guards make?
The National Careers Service puts the salary range between £16,000 and £24,000 a year for full-time security guards. Have a look at part-time jobs and you’ll see posts offering around £8 to £13 per hour.
Given the relatively low entry requirements, this makes security work an attractive option. Part-timers could find it ideal for paying the bills and supplementing another job, or decide to turn it into full-time work.
Experience as a security guard is an excellent springboard for many other careers, too. While many police officers and soldiers move into security work, the opposite is also true. You could also look at working as a club bouncer or even a bodyguard down the line.
Where are the best places to find security guard jobs?
Check out online job boards and you’ll get a sense of how many posts are available in your area. Indeed, Reed, CV-Library, Adzuna, Monster and Totaljobs are all good places to look.
You could also contact your local Jobcentre Plus; they’re great for advice and helping you search through listings.
If you’re finding it hard to get jobs, consider doing an apprenticeship. The Gov.UK website has plenty of info on these. Apprentice pay is low (£3.90 per hour as of 2019). But if you can manage it for a while, completing an apprenticeship could help you stand out from the crowd.
Which are the most popular types of security work?
The Security Industry Authority has handy statistics on active license holders, giving a good picture of the type of work security guards are doing.
Door supervisors are by far the most popular, making up over half of active licenses. This is followed by security guarding and then CCTV, with vehicle immobilisers being the rarest:
|Sector||Number of Licences|
|Cash & Valuables in Transit||7,470|
|Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)||50,633|
Source: Security Industry Authority
It’s a popular industry, and there are many sectors hiring lots of security guards.
Security is a challenging job that takes a certain mindset. You’ll need to be assertive and alert, yet calm and decisive under pressure. If you pass the fitness and criminal background requirements, it could be an excellent way to get extra income or even launch a whole new career.
Start browsing job boards and you could soon be in your ideal security role.