How To Become A Security Guard In 2024: Our Guide

Written by Holly Savage

3rd September 2020

In the UK, security guards are in high demand, due to crime in England and Wales increasing. Businesses are now desperate to protect their valuable stock and employees. Qualifying as a security guard equips you with a valuable skillset, it is a rewarding career, and being a security guard can open many job opportunities within the security industry, depending on the company and the situation.

If you’re wondering if you should become a security guard, but are unsure what you need, then this is the article for you. Our detailed guide will tell you everything you need to know about becoming a security officer and about security guard requirements.

What Is The Role Of A Security Guard?

When you are becoming a security guard, the first step is understanding what the role of a security guard is. The primary role of a security guard is to protect people, businesses, buildings, or valuables. And security guards are able to fulfill this role through their tasks and duties.

What Are The Duties Of A Security Officer?

Security guards will work in a number of different environments, from event security to warehouse guarding to building security. A security officer’s day will also consist of various tasks and duties. We have listed some common responsibilities that security officers will have.

 

  • Security guards will patrol buildings and often monitor other areas to prevent or stop incidents, such as theft and violence.
  • Security guards will answer alarms and confront individuals who are a potential threat.
  • Security guards will also help to prevent the loss of valuables.
  • They will also communicate closely with law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical personnel.
  • They will document any activities or disturbances that have occurred at a site they are protecting.
  • They will ensure that alarm systems, doors and windows are secure and work correctly.
  • They may have to potentially interview witnesses or testify in court.
  • Security guards will also have to monitor CCTC footage.
  • Security guards who work in retail security will have to help customers.
  • They will act as a visual deterrent to help prevent crime.
  • Security officers may have to stand in front of a building or store and monitor everybody who enters the building.
  • Security guards will have to report all incidents to their supervisors.
how-to-become-a-security-guard

What Do I Need To Become A Security Guard?

There are many requirements needed to become a security officer in the UK. Some of these are:

 

  • Being at least 18 years old.
  • Passing an ID check.
  • Undergoing a criminal records check.
  • Proving that you are eligible to work in the UK.
  • Having a security guard licence.
  • If you are pursuing a job in construction security you will need to have a CSCS card, as it shows that you can operate safely.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Security Guard?

When you are applying to become a guard, there are a few things that you will have to pay for yourself, such as your training courses and your SIA security guard licence. We can’t tell you how much it will cost exactly as it will depend on the security licence you are buying and the amount of training you need, but we do estimate that it may cost a few hundred pounds.

A security guarding licence normally costs £184 and most basic security guard training courses will cost around £180. Security guards will now also be expected to take a first aid training course as well and these can cost anywhere between £50 to £130.

Do I Need A License For A Security Guard Job?

Yes. If you are looking to work within the security guard industry, then you will require a security guard licence from the SIA. A security guarding licence will allow you to complete the activities associated with the role of a security guard, such as patrolling areas and protecting properties.

security guard licence

What Is The Licence Needed To Become A Security Guard?

To become a security guard, you will need to have a security guarding licence. The main licence which you will need is an SIA security guard licence. And this licence is a necessary requirement for becoming a security officer.

When you are applying for an SIA security guard licence there are two different types, the first being a front-line licence while the second is a non-front licence. The main licence that a security guard will use is a front-line licence, as this is the licence needed if you are performing a licensable activity as part of your job, such as manned guarding.

licensed security guard

How Do I Get An SIA License?

Obtaining an SIA licence is vital for anyone who is looking to become a security guard. If you are employed by an agency or contractor that provides security services to clients, you will need your SIA licence. It’s a criminal offence to take on security work without this licence and you could face the consequences of six months in prison or a £5,000 fine, so ensuring you have the essential qualifications is extremely important.

In order to qualify for an SIA licence, you have to complete different training, including first-aid training, and you will have to pass different exams.

Do You Have To Take Exams To Become A Security Guard?

Before you can acquire a security guarding licence and become a security guard, there are exams that you will need to take. The questions in each exam often differ so it is not possible to cheat and find the answers online. However, you can research potential questions and revise subjects that you will most likely be tested on. Plus, there are a variety of videos online that can help you study and that cover a variety of different exam topics.

security guard exam

What Security Guard Training Requirements Will I Need?

To help you obtain your security guard licence, there are some training courses that you may need to take. And these training courses will depend on the security job you plan to do. Some of these training courses are:

 

  • Security Guard Training.
  • CCTV Training.
  • Door Supervisor Training.
  • Close Protection Training.
  • Vehicle Immobilising.
  • Cash And Valuables In Transit.

Do You Need Qualifications To Work In Security?

To become a security guard, you don’t need to have any specific academic or educational qualifications. Instead, you are only expected to have a good level of basic education. You may, however, need specific security qualifications which you will gain from taking your training courses.

For example, before you can apply for a front-line SIA licence you will have to train for an approved licence-linked qualification. This is so the SIA can be sure that you have all the necessary skills and knowledge which are needed to hold this licence and so that they can trust that you will be able to do your job safely.

qualifications to be a security guard

What Skills Should A Security Guard Have?

There is a variety of security guard skills candidates will need when becoming a security guard. We have listed some of the top security guard skills.

Alertness

Security guards need to be alert at all times and remain focused on their surroundings. They must try to pay attention to detail and try to avoid all distractions as they could overlook something that can cause a hazard or harm. Having quick reflexes is also essential; anyone can spot crime, but the difference is that a guard needs to be able to quickly inspect the situation and figure out how to address it.

Due to the likelihood of working long, tiring shifts and finishing at late hours, your vigilance may be disrupted. You must question whether this will be too difficult for you to manage.

security guard knowledge

Trustworthiness

A quality security guard should always be reliable. A company must be comfortable in letting you guard a business’ premises. First impressions mean a lot, you must show that you can be trusted, prove that you are capable of deterring crime and most importantly, turn up on time. It is no good if you are late to your shift.

security guard requirements

Physical Fitness

Ideally, guards need to be in a healthy weight range and exercise regularly. An unfit officer may not be able to offer full protection for people. Moreover, being in good shape will also lead to increased mental alertness.

Not only do they need to be physically fit, but they need to look reputable. Clean and tidy uniforms that are always tucked in will indicate that they are well put together. It looks good in the eyes of your client and will show you are a quality candidate.

security guard qualities

Good Communication

A quality security guard has to be able to communicate effectively with good written and verbal communication. Written communication skills allow them to carefully and accurately note each important incident that happens.

security guard good communication

Being Able To Stay Calm Under Pressure

Security officers will have to deal with high-pressure situations. So, it is important that security guards are able to stay calm under pressure.

security guard skills

Good Knowledge About Public Safety

As security guards may have to work in dangerous situations it is important that they have good knowledge about public safety and security. This knowledge can help security guards be prepared for their daily tasks.

security guards public safety

Good Customer Service Skills

Another necessary skill that security guards need to have is good customer service skills. It is important for security guards to have good customer service skills, especially guards who work in retail security; as they will often have to help and deal with customer inquiries.

security guards good customer service skills

Do You Need Previous Security Work?

Although it is good to have some experience in other jobs which are related to security, it is not a necessary requirement to have past security guard work experience or past security experience.

What Are The Enhanced Background Checks I Will Have To Pass?

The SIA does background checks for security guards. So to become a security guard you will have to have to pass enhanced background checks. The main enhanced background checks which you will have to pass are:

 

  • A background check about your working history.
  • A background check about your criminal record to see if you have any criminal convictions.
  • A mental health check.
  • And background checks about your personal history.
security officer

How To Get A Job As A Security Guard?

Once you have finished your training and received your licence, it is time to start applying for your job. Visiting job searching websites like Indeed, sending emails, and contacting the company’s recruitment service are brilliant ways to find security guard jobs. And they can also help you find jobs which are nearby.

When you are applying for security guard jobs you may need:

  • A CV.
  • Proof of your address.
  • Two forms of identification.
  • Two references.
  • The right skills and knowledge for the job.
  • A cover or application letter.

When you are looking for security officer jobs, it is important that you do research beforehand on the company and know why you want to work for them. As this question is commonly asked on job applications and it’s an opportunity for you to showcase your interest in working for them.

It is also important that you check your CV as well whilst you are applying for jobs. You should tailor your CV to every job you apply for to make sure that it has all the right information, but also highlights why you are suitable for this job.

If you’re lucky to get an interview, you should make sure to revise your CV as your interviewer will no doubt use it as a conversation starter, and they may base their security guard interview questions around it.

If you were unfortunate to get rejected within the application process, review your CV and look for improvements. Perhaps you didn’t maximise your experience or skillsets. If you made it as far as an interview, consider how you can improve your performance in the future.

security guards on site

What Is A Security Guard Job Description?

The best way to find a security guard job that suits you is by reading the job description on security jobs. But what exactly is a security guard job description?

As security guards are employed in a variety of different job sectors ranging from nightclubs to retail stores, it’s important that they understand what is expected of them and a security guard job description can help them understand this.

Security guard job descriptions will be written for each individual job, and they can often be used as a tool to help you understand the particular requirements of a job. Job descriptions will go into exact details such as:

 

  • Where the job is located.
  • The number of hours required for the job.
  • The different duties that you will have.
  • The different skills that are needed for the job.
security guard job description

Screenshot from Indeed

What Should A Security Guard Put On A Resume?

When you’ve found a security guard you’re interested in then it is time to start your application by writing your CV and cover letter. We have listed below, some of the most important things that you should include on your security guard CV.

Contact details

It is important to include all your basic contacts such as your full name, contact number, and email address so that you can be contacted regarding the role.

Profile

Your profile should be a summary of your experience, qualifications, and skills that can be quickly read over. Recruiters will appreciate this as they may be reading hundreds of applications and find it difficult to pick out the key information.

Work Experience

Add in any relevant work experience at the top of this list, starting with your most recent job. If this is your first job in security, add in other occupations that you have previously worked in and the experience that you gained from them. Other important experiences can include military experience, experience working as a bouncer, or any customer service role.

Education

Here you should list any certificates or qualifications that you have, again starting with the most relevant. Your SIA licence can also go in this section.

Skills

Recruiters for security firms are looking for particular skills in potential new employees. Check the job description carefully for what they are looking for, and be sure to include them in this section. Emphases the skills that you have a shows how you display them. Important skills should include communication, attention to detail, honesty and integrity, and multi-tasking.

Interests

While this section is optional, you can share your hobbies with the recruiters to give them more detail about yourself. Interests that link more with the security field are better, such as staying active.

hiring security guards

How Do I Write An Application Letter As A Security Guard?

When writing a cover or application letter for a security guard job, it is important to make clear why the business looking at your application would benefit from adding you to their team. Add a brief summary of your skills and qualities and state your relevant experiences. Try and link this to the requirements stated in the job description to show that you are right for the role.

The top of your letter should be addressed to the head of the firm or head of recruitment, and there should also be a section included that praises the organisation you are applying to and why you want to work for them. Finally, end your letter with a call to action, reaffirming why you are the right choice for the role and giving all your relevant contact details.

security guard cover letter

What Can A Job As A Security Guard Lead To?

Some security guards will go on to become police or law enforcement officers and study while working full-time to earn an online associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Others may use their security experience to become a supervisor or chief security officer. With further qualifications, you could go into security management or set up your own company.

Is There Money in Security Jobs?

The amount a security guard makes from the security industry will depend on their job and the location where they work in. For example, if you work in London, you can expect a higher wage as it has a higher cost of living. The more responsibility you have, the higher your wage will also be. In every security guard job description, there should be a section that contains the hourly rate of pay or the salary you will be earning from that role. We’ve listed the average wages for three of the most popular security jobs within the UK.

Average Security Guard Wage

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for UK security guards is £22,602 per year. While lead security officers can earn up to £37,217 per year.

Security guards also appear to be increasingly in demand – where the average wage in the UK has increased by around 1% annually, the wage of a security guard has risen by just under 2.5%. The number of job adverts has also increased by 7.3%. This could lead to wages increasing even further as the demand increases.

security guard wage

Average Door Supervisor Wage

Door supervisors are a type of security guard that is tasked with managing the entry and exit to premises and handling any incidents that may arise. Often door supervisors work at bars and pubs in the evening.

According to Indeed, the average door supervisor earns around £22,921 per year in England. However, this salary can increase by obtaining additional qualifications that may you more employable, such as a certification in first aid.

door supervisor wage

Average CCTV Operator Wage

If you are interested in working for a security firm but not as a security guard, there are many other options. A CCTV operator, for example, will control CCTV cameras and potentially alert security guards to any incidents or disruptions.

As this role is more technical and requires more training, the average salary for a CCTV operator is around £27,085. While senior CCTV operators can earn up to £33,218 per year. 

cctv operator wage

Benefits Of Being A Security Guard

There are many benefits to becoming a security guard. We have listed some of the most popular benefits.

Security Guards Learn A Lot Of Skills

Firstly, you gain a lot of skills due to the fact that security guards receive a lot of training and can work in a number of different environments and job sectors.

Being A Security Guard Makes You More Employable Within The  Security Industry And Other Fields

Another benefit of being a security guard is that you can become more employable within the security industry. Many people may choose to become a security guard and stay in that job. However, others may become a security officer for a few years and then use this experience to boost themselves up within the security career industry. The experience you gain from working as a security guard can also be used to help you get other jobs in a similar industry such as the military and police work.

Flexible Working

Working as a security guard also comes with the benefit of flexible working, as security guards work a variety of different schedules. Many companies ask security companies for protection 24 hours a day, rather than just during normal working hours, and this means that you may be able to request shifts that fit your own personal circumstances.

Many Different Types Of Security Guard Jobs

Finally, the last benefit of working as a guard is there are many different job areas that you can work in. Security officers work in a variety of different places, ranging from construction sites to airports. As there is a variety of different jobs within security, you can often find one that suits your preferences. For example, some security officers may monitor CCTV, some may work in an office, and others may do patrols every day.

what do i need to do to become a security guard

What Powers Does A Security Guard Have?

While security guards in other countries may have the ability to carry weapons, in the U.K., under U.K. law, it is illegal for private security guards to carry a weapon and to be armed with a gun due to strict gun control laws.

Security guards are, however, permitted to physically restrain members of the public if necessary – perhaps if they are a danger to themselves or others, or they are suspected of committing a crime. This does not just apply to security guards but instead also applies to any member of the public under U.K. law. Security guards can also detain people until the police can attend the location if necessary.

How Do You Protect Yourself As A Security Guard?

A common worry about becoming a security guard is thinking how will I protect myself if there is a dangerous situation? Well, every security guard will receive strict and thorough training on how to protect themselves and how to protect the business that they work for.

Security training will include sections on how to effectively restrain someone from stopping them from being a harm to themselves, the guard and others. And they will also include what a guard should do if they witness a crime being committed. 

security guards powers

Is Being A Security Guard A Good Career? 

Many people often ask, can you make a career out of security? And the answer is yes, being a security guard is a good career to have as it can lead you to many different career options.

Within the security field, it is possible to move up the ladder from an entry-level security guard. After developing experience as a security officer, you can then become a security supervisor in charge of a small team. As you progress, you can then become a senior or chief security officer, overseeing more people.

It is possible to gain further qualifications that can boost your chances of promotion, such as Level 3 security first-line manager. This will allow you to progress within management or help you on the road to becoming a security trainer.

Finally, many experienced security guards set up their own security companies so that they can become their own bosses, work with clients, and lead a security officer team.

Popular Security Guarding Myths

So, you’re still considering becoming a security guard but you’re unsure if you can because of common myths that surround guards. Well, we hope to put your worries at ease, we have listed and debunked the five most popular security guarding myths.

 

1. Security Guards Have Similar Powers To The Police

The first myth is that security guards have similar powers to the police. Security guards are enforcers of the law, and it can be their job to protect businesses, properties, or people.

This can sound similar to the role of a police officer, and a lot of people do believe that security guards have the same exact powers as the police, but security guards have the same legal rights as anybody. They do not have the same powers as the police. Security guards are effectively just highly trained citizens.

Like the police, security guards do have the right to make a citizen’s arrest but for the most part, their job role is about assessing findings and then reporting these back to either their supervisor or the company that they are contracted to or sometimes even the police. It is easy to see why people believe and think that security guards have the same powers as police. But highly trained security guards do know exactly what their legal rights are and how to ensure that nobody gets hurt.

 

2. All Security Guards Are Men

The second myth is that all security guards are men, and this is another common myth that is perpetuated. Although this is more of an ignorant belief than something that people actually believe is true.

This belief is steeped in history, as for the longest time security has been known to be a male-dominated industry. Because of this, it was thought that only men were allowed to become security guards.

However, in the modern world, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Security guards come in all shapes and sizes and now more than ever there are more female security guards. Also because of this belief that all security guards are men, having a female security officer can offer a level of discreet security. As a lot of people won’t even believe that they are on the security team.

But all aspects of a security guard’s role can be accomplished by either sex. So, there’s no reason to think that women couldn’t be security guards. Overall, this myth is an ignorant one that people believed in the past, but now this myth is becoming less believed as time goes on.

 

3. Every Security Guard Has A Gun

Another myth is that every security guard has a gun. Security guards wielding weapons is something that is often shown in movies. And while security guards in some countries can be trained to operate firearms – not all security guards have guns.

As a matter of fact, in the UK it’s illegal for a citizen to carry a gun. According to The Firearm Act that passed in 1997, it is illegal for security guards or even the armed police to carry a gun in the UK. On 31st March 2023, there were 6,651 officers authorised to use a firearm.

However, in the US armed guards are legal and are oftentimes used to protect highly valuable or sensitive information. Armed guards have to go through intensive training and are put on much more thorough and dangerous jobs. Whilst these specialist guards, do carry firearms they do not make up the majority of security guards who can’t.

4. Security Guards Don’t Do Anything

The fourth myth is that security guards don’t really do anything. This is another myth that has been thought of due to the representation of security guards in films and TV shows. Most times they have been depicted as a lazy guard asleep at their station. This goes without saying you shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV. So what can guards do?

As guards are held by their respective companies to incredibly high standards, with several aspects of their job requiring them to be alert and focused. Guards will often have patrols that they have to do, where they will have to notify anything that they think is unusual in an instant report. These instant reports have to be detailed and sometimes they have to be acted upon in the moment. This means that guards have to be vigilant at all times.

Security guards will also have to have direct correspondence with the public. And in a lot of instances, if they are working in a shop, they may have to help customers or staff with menial tasks. All in all, if a guard did act in the way that you have seen them portrayed in the movies, they wouldn’t be a guard for much longer.

 

5. All Security Guards Are Big and Burly

The last myth is that security guards are all big and burly. This myth goes hand in hand with the myth about women not being able to be security guards. Overall, your build matters a lot less than you think when it comes to being a security guard. Being fit and healthy is certainly something that’s an advantage to the job, as it can get quite strenuous at times. But you certainly don’t have to be a giant to become a security guard.

As well as deterring crime and criminals, one part of their job is to provide a friendly and approachable service to any customers, guests, clients, or people. So, it’s better to have a friendly demeanour and not the gruff no-nonsense one that you see in movies. Either way, as long as you’re fit and healthy then you will be the perfect candidate to become a security guard.

Who’s Hiring For Security Guards?

The majority of security guards are hired by private firms to protect their businesses or by security agencies. Security agencies can then be hired by businesses to cover one-off events, permanent premises, or protect individuals. Most jobs for these agencies are advertised online on a security company website or on job search sites like Indeed.

Get In Touch, We’re Recruiting!

 

Region Security Guarding is always looking to recruit experienced and SIA-licenced security guards to cover job opportunities. The guards we employ must have a checkable 5-year work history that has references and has had a criminality record check.

If you’re interested in applying for one of our security guard jobs, don’t hesitate to fill out our online application form. Or take a look at our current vacancies page to see what current job vacancies we have listed!

become-a-security-guard

To keep stay updated with all the latest security guard news, check out our news page where you can find articles about what customer service as a security guard is like and what a security guard does.

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