What Is The Difference Between USA And UK Security Guards?

Written by Holly Savage

4th April 2023

Two areas in the world where security guards are popular is the UK and America. And according to online statistics from Zippia, there are currently 823,148 guards employed in the USA. In contrast, Statista suggests that there are around 160,100 active UK security guards. But are the security guards from both these countries similar? Do they have the same tasks and wear the same type of uniform?

And what is the difference between USA and UK security guards? We’ll be discussing this and more such as the types of equipment both UK and USA security guards use and their different powers.

Are UK And USA Security Guards The Same?

Although security guards in both America and the UK have some differences, they share some similarities too. One of the main similarities they have is their overall duty of providing businesses with security protection. Companies from both the USA and the UK will hire guards to protect their customers, workers, and equipment, and to stop all security threats such as criminals from attacking their business.

Another way that UK and American guards are similar is the types of businesses they protect. Security officers from both countries will protect companies such as retail stores, hotels, events, schools, offices, and vacant properties.   

What Is The Difference Between USA And UK Security Guards?

As we mentioned above UK and USA security guards are similar in some ways but in what ways are they different? Well, the most common differences between English and American security guards are the different powers they have, the equipment they carry, what they wear, and their security licences.

We have talked about these differences in more detail throughout the rest of this article… starting with the process of becoming a security officer.

Are UK And USA Security Guards The Same

How Do I Become A Security Officer In The UK?

In the UK, you don’t need any specific education qualifications when you are applying to be a security guard. Instead, you need:


  • To be at least 18 years old.
  • Pass security training.
  • Be first aid qualified.
  • Have an SIA security guard licence.
  • Be a UK citizen or have the right to work in the UK.
  • Pass background checks such as criminal record checks and a mental health check.

What Security Licence Do Guards In The UK?

To become a security guard within the UK, you will need to earn a security licence that has been approved by the Security Industry Authority. The most common licence that security officers use in the UK is an SIA security guard licence, and this licence normally costs £184. To gain this licence, guards will need to pass specific security training courses and have a first aid qualification.

security guard licence

How Do I Become An American Security Guard?

Similar to the UK, American security guards don’t need to have any specific academic qualifications to become a security officer. Guards will need to pass requirements such as being at least 18 years old, having the right to work in America, having a security licence, and passing background checks like a criminal record check.

In each state in America, there can be different laws regarding becoming a security guard, and anyone who is looking to become a US security officer will need to check these before applying.

One key difference between becoming a security guard in America compared to the UK is that there are two different security licences that American guards can use. These are a Class D Security Licence and a Class G Security Licence.


What Is A Class D Security Licence?

 A class D security licence is the most common licence that security guards from America will have, and it is normally used by unarmed security officers. This licence is quite similar to the UK’s SIA security guard licence.

What Is A Class G Security Licence?

The second licence that USA security officers can earn is a class G security licence. This is a higher-up security licence, that allows guards to carry weapons. If you are looking to work within armed security, then you will need to have both a class D security licence and a class G security licence.

American security guard

What Do American Security Guards Wear?

Another big difference between USA security officers and UK security guards is their uniforms. American security guards tend to wear outfits that resemble their police. And their uniforms include a lot of dark colours like blues and blacks. Security officers who work in America tend to wear dark-coloured jackets, heavy-duty boots, and black trousers.

What Do Security Guards In The UK Wear To Work?

While in the UK security guards normally wear bright-coloured high-vis jackets and soft-shell jackets. A UK’s security guard uniform will typically depend on the business they are working in. For example, guards who work in warehouses or construction sites will normally wear orange or green hi-vis jackets and heavy-duty boots. While guards who work at events or retail stores will typically wear smarter uniforms such as black soft-shell jackets and dark-coloured trousers.

uk security guards

What Security Equipment Is Used In The UK?

The type of security equipment that guards use in both countries varies. In the UK, guards will often carry and use security equipment such as:


  • First Aid Kits.
  • Walkie-Talkies.
  • Two-way Radios.
  • Security Duty Belts.
  • Body Cameras.
  • And Flashlights.

What Equipment Do US Security Officers Use?

While American guards will also use some of the same protective equipment that UK guards use such as security duty belts, walkie-talkies, flashlights, and body cameras. But American security guards will also be allowed to carry armed equipment such as batons, pepper spray and guns.

uk vs usa security guards

What Powers Do Security Guards Have In The UK?

And the final difference between security officers from both countries is their powers. In the UK, security guards aren’t considered as law enforcers so this means they don’t have the right to properly arrest someone, and they can’t search someone’s belongings without their consent.

If a guard suspects that someone is causing a crime – they will be able to perform a citizen’s arrest and detain them till the police arrive. Guards in the UK also don’t have the right to carry or use armed weapons. This is due to the UK’s strong laws about carrying firearms.

What Powers Do Security Guards Have In The USA?

In America, security officers aren’t considered to be law enforcers either so can’t properly arrest or detain anyone. Instead, they can only perform a citizen’s arrest if they believe someone is committing a crime.

But unlike the UK – America has different laws regarding carrying weapons and guns. And because of these laws, security officers from America are allowed to carry armed equipment like batons. Most American security guards will carry batons on their security duty belts during their regular day-to-day shifts.

what is the difference between usa and uk security guards

So, What Is The Difference Between USA And UK Security Guards?

Overall, American and UK security guards are similar in some ways as they both have a similar duty of providing businesses with protection. But they do have many differences. Security guards in the UK only need one security licence to become a guard – while Americans have a choice of two security licences. American security guards are allowed to carry armed equipment while UK security officers aren’t.

But despite all of their differences both UK and USA security guards will be used by companies to protect them, their workers, and their assets from any type of security threat.

If you are interested in hearing more about the latest UK security guard news, then why not take a browse through our blog? Where you can find articles about what guards are allowed to do, and how much UK security guards make.

Let’s Stay In Touch

Want to stay updated with our latest content? Enter your email address to subscribe to our free newsletter.

Related Articles

How To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard

How To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard

In this article, we delve into the essential aspects of how to prepare for a night shift as a security guard. We’ll explore the strategies that can help you navigate the challenges of the night with confidence.

Our Guide To Security Robots

Our Guide To Security Robots

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and security, new possibilities have emerged with the invention of security robots. Join us on a journey into the realm of security robotics!

What Does A Factory Security Guard Do?

What Does A Factory Security Guard Do?

Security guards work in a variety of positions and situations. As you probably know by now, protecting your business is not a decision to be made hastily. One of the places where security guards are most effective is a factory setting.

What Does A University Security Officer Do?

What Does A University Security Officer Do?

Student safety has come to the fore of public conversation lately, with initiatives such as the ‘Big Night In’. In this new climate, university security guards at universities are often under more scrutiny than ever.

Security Guards Vs CCTV

Security Guards Vs CCTV

When it comes to securing your business, security guards and CCTV cameras are two of the most popular options. However, it can be difficult to decide which option to go for.  When it comes to security guards vs CCTV, which is better?

What Is A Security Manager?

What Is A Security Manager?

Aside from close protection officers and security guards, there are many other jobs within the security industry. And one of the highest job positions in the security industry is a security manager.

Do You Need A Mental Health Check To Apply For An SIA Licence?

Do You Need A Mental Health Check To Apply For An SIA Licence?

Mental health is always important to consider when applying for or working in any job. But do you need a mental health check to apply for an SIA licence? We’ll be discussing this and more such as, can you be a security guard with mental illness, what you need to know about mental health in the security industry, and how guards cope with stress and pressure.

Security Guard Training Guide

Security Guard Training Guide

We all know that training is an essential step before becoming a security guard but why is it so important that all guards take and pass security training courses? We’ll be discussing this and more in our security training guide, such as the different types of training that guards need, how much training can cost, and where you can find security training courses.