Security Jobs: Who Should Apply?

Are you former military, a national guardsman, a reservist, current or former law enforcement (LE), or a first responder?  If yes, you are most sought after for security jobs because of a singular soft skill that you developed throughout your past or current career.  Being security-minded is a soft skill that can only be developed through real experience and, because of that, employers are able to spend less time and money and risk to bring you up to their standard.

For those individuals who are reading this that do not have any of this type of experience, it is unlikely that you will qualify for any jobs on Silent Professionals; however, you may still have opportunities to break into the field through a combination of working entry-level security jobs and building your knowledge and skills in industry courses. You may be a recent high school grad, a college student looking to pay for tuition, an individual waiting on a police department application, or someone who just wants to serve their community – whatever the calling, the demand for protective security professionals are only increasing.

In this article, we will discuss the types of people who qualify for security jobs, the various levels of security jobs, industry standard pay wages for both hourly and salaried employees or contractors, and what steps an aspiring security professional should take in order to improve their chances of landing a job.

Security Job Categories & Minimum Requirements

Unarmed Security Guard

These days, most US states require some type of guard card to work as an entry level unarmed security guard. Typical requirements that need to be met are a license processing fee, fingerprints, a background check to ensure you have a clean background free from criminal charges, and a roughly 40-hour (time varies by state) security guard education course. This is, for the most part, the standard in any state.

Armed Security Guard

In addition to the requirements listed above, all states will require some type of firearms training course with an armed security training component. Standards for this license vary by state. Some employers may offer to cover your licensing costs; however, those who already possess the proper licensing are often preferred in the selection process.

You will also need a handgun carry permit for that specific state prior to conducting that training. Most states either have concealed carry permits, open carry permits, both, or no requirement at all to carry a handgun. An additional 40-hour course (time varies by state) that focuses on Rules of Engagement (RoE) and Use-of-Force continuum will also be required in order to be a licensed armed security guard.

Executive Protection (EP) Agent

The executive protection agent is a far more advanced and experienced type of security professional. EP agents have all required state licenses to perform armed security, plus possess additional blocks of instruction (requirements vary by state) before state licenses can be issued. Besides training, EP agents require far more maturity and real-world experience to be competitive among those applying for these types of security jobs. In fact, the average entry-level EP agent typically has at least 10 years of real-world military and/or law enforcement experience, plus appropriate licensing and state-specific training.

Pay, Wages & Benefits

All data below are approximate wages, salaries, and benefits that can be earned in each type of position.  Salaried positions are based upon a 40-hour work week at 52 weeks per year and all dollar amounts are in US Dollars (USD).  Additionally, some positions may be located within the Continental United States (CONUS) or Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).  Executive Protection positions below are based upon per-day-rates (which is the typical way executive protection wages are posted and paid)  and are based upon a 12-hour (or greater) work day.

  • Hourly – minimum wage to $17 / hr
  • Salary – $16,000 / yr to $35,000 / yr

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

  • Hourly – $12 to $19 / hr
  • Salary – $25,000 to $40,000 / yr

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

  • Hourly – $15 to $25 / hr
  • Salary – $31,000 to $52,000 / yr

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

  • Hourly – $18 to $30 / hr
  • Salary – $37,000 to $62,000 / yr

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

  • Hourly – $25 to $50 / hr
  • Day Rate CONUS – $300 to $600 / day
  • Day Rate OCONUS – $300 to $800 / day
  • Salary CONUS – $100,000 to $200,000 / yr
  • Salary w/occasional OCONUS – $120,000 to $250,000

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

  • Hourly – $30 to $60 / hr
  • Day Rate CONUS – $360 to $720 / day
  • Day Rate OCONUS – $400 to $1000 / day
  • Salary CONUS – $130,000 to $250,000 / yr
  • Salary w/occasional OCONUS – $150,000 to $300,000

*These positions may include benefits to include medical, dental, and even 401k

Career Progression

Entering with Prior Experience

If you are entering the private security field as a military or law enforcement veteran or as a first responder, then you are setting yourself up for success. You will have no issues gaining employment as an unarmed or armed security guard and, often times, your prior experience will stack you well above those without military or law enforcement experience.

If executive protection jobs are something you wish to transition into, there are a few schools in the country accepting the G.I. Bill to pay for this type of coursework. Costs for reputable courses can exceed $20,000 for a little over a month’s worth of training at their facilities. While the prices are steep, these courses will set you up for success and assist you in getting networked with other professionals like yourself and companies looking for graduates of these courses.

A common mistake is thinking that PSD work or years of combat time in the military will suffice to enter into executive protection work. While it is a great foundation, without re-tooling and EP-specific training, you will not be competitive relative to others who possess the same (or greater) level of experience as you – plus possess a wealth of EP experience and training.

The good news is that you already come from a proven and trusted background where you learned valuable hard and soft skills. EP courses will teach you new skills, laws / regulations, etc. that are directly applicable to the EP profession making you a valuable member to any EP team.

The single biggest thing that disqualifies a candidate for this type of competitive job is ego. Drop any ego that may exist for whatever reason, be willing to accept any position that comes your way, and be mature, trustworthy, reliable, and resourceful. Remember that the highest paying EP jobs are for private clients. Personality conflicts or a general dislike of your attitude will instantly disqualify you in the eyes of the client and they are ultimately at liberty to choose who they feel most comfortable with around them, their families, and their business associates, 24/7. 

Entering with No Prior Experience

Entering this field without having prior military or law enforcement experience will give you a tremendous disadvantage right from the start. There are, however, ways you can still gain employment in a security job.

First and foremost, be willing to build your experience from the bottom and accept the lowest entry level position offered to you – even if it isn’t the job you want. You need real-world experience so NEVER turn down any opportunity. With this attitude you will be viewed as an individual that an employer can count on. Reputation is incredibly important in this line of work and within all ranks of the security profession so ensure you maintain a good one.

There are many unarmed and armed security guard positions out there that are still considered entry-level. You will still need to check all the blocks for state licensing, own a handgun, and be reliable in order to be considered for one of these positions.

If you have no prior experience in protective security and are hoping to break into the executive protection field, be advised now that it will be incredibly difficult for you to do so as this is the most competitive of all security job types. This is competitive even for men and women from elite military or LE backgrounds as the number of highly qualified applicants exceeds the number of jobs available.

It doesn’t mean you have zero chance, but it does mean you will have a difficult and long uphill climb ahead of you that will cost you a lot of your personal time and money to achieve. You may need to spend one to two decades in the security field while funding training that others with experience would have received from the military or LE. This type of self improvement would be through various driving, EP, surveillance, counter-surveillance, shooting courses, etc. And after all of that, there is still no guarantee of employment. 

The Security Job Market

Security jobs are found wherever there are people or property to protect. Security guards work in banks, stores, private corporations, and public buildings. They can protect homes and individuals, ride and drive in armored vehicles, and work in transportation terminals such as airports.

Security officers may patrol on motorized scooters, on bicycles, on foot, or in cars. Some security jobs require personnel to stay in one place. Security officers guard public buildings such as art galleries and museums.

In such places, they may patrol from room to room, guard a specific exhibit, or have a particular room to guard. Private companies like defense and aerospace contractors employ security officers as screeners of people entering the building to protect government and company assets.

Private company security officers may survey property and buildings by watching monitors or television screens that receive live security camera feeds. They may also use cars to patrol parking lots or be situated at entrances.

At credit unions, banks, shopping malls, and stores, security officers protect against possible robberies or thefts. They may notify law enforcement officers of robberies and burglaries. They may be required to restrain suspects until law officers arrive.

Personal or private security officers are in charge of guarding private individuals and assets they own. They may be escorts to well-known VIPs, ensuring their safety as they go from place to place.

Armored cars may be used to transport people who make large bank deposits, valuables, or money. Organizations such as property management companies, private security agencies, and other agencies and companies are security job employers.

Some security officers are armed, others do not carry a gun. Depending on the level of risk, some wear bulletproof vests. Some security officers wear plain clothes; others wear uniforms much like that of police officers.

The background and training for security jobs vary, but at Silent Professionals, we focus specifically on helping prior military and law enforcement veterans gain employment in the most advanced types of security jobs in the industry.

Experienced professionals always get free access to jobs.