what is a security guard?

As a security guard, you protect a business or non-profit organisation from thieves, assailants, trespassers and other perpetrators. Your responsibilities as a guard vary depending on your job description. For example, if you work as a security guard (or bouncer) at a nightclub, you block entry for underage people, violent customers and anyone who may cause harm. If you work at a museum, you stand inside the building to ensure visitors don't steal or deface the artwork. 

Other general responsibilities of a security guard may include inspecting packages and removing people who harass other visitors. While most security guard jobs require you to write reports, the position comes with different levels of legitimate authority. For instance, some guards monitor security cameras and intervene for signs of trouble. Some security guards call police officers, ambulances and firefighters in an emergency.

Security guards who patrol their assigned grounds might detain people who break the law. Some guards check everyone who enters a building to ensure they have valid IDs. Working as a security guard may also involve violent situations. While a museum guard doesn't often deal with violent visitors, a security guard working at a nightclub might deal with drunk or aggressive customers.

Security guards working at banks, airports, stadiums and other high-risk areas need the training to protect themselves and other visitors. Depending on your job description, you guard customers, employees, merchandise, cash or business interests, even if it means putting yourself in danger.

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average security guard salary

A security guard takes home an average hourly rate of $23 - $30. Experience and additional expertise increase your take-home pay to $30 - $70 per hour. The remuneration package depends on your experience level and the complexity of your responsibilities. For instance, you are likely to earn more if you are a security guard for a building that requires top-level security.

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types of security guards

Nearly every industry has a position for security guards. Some security guards work at arenas, stadiums and other event venues to direct parking and traffic and keep crowds under control. Some types of security guards include:

  • government contract security guards: you protect and secure government buildings and employees if you are a government contract security guard. The job requires you to be highly trained to guard courthouses or military command centres.
  • in-house security guards: as a security guard, you can be hired in-house by a company instead of working through a security agency. You work in various settings, from hotels and hospitals to museums and nightclubs.
  • bodyguards: You are highly trained as a personal security guard assigned to protect a dignitary, celebrity or VIP. You assess threats in your surroundings and defend the person under your protection if required.

working as a security guard

Working as a security guard mainly involves protecting individuals or buildings. Find out more about the role by checking the duties and work schedules involved.

Smiling male looking away wearing yellow jacket and walkie-talkie signing where to go
Smiling male looking away wearing yellow jacket and walkie-talkie signing where to go

education and skills

There are no specific requirements to become a security officer/guard. However, you need a Certificate of Approval issued by the Ministry of Justice to work.

For many roles, it can be helpful to gain the New Zealand Certificate in Security (Level 3 or 4).

security guard skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a security guard include the following:

  • observational skills: as a security guard, a significant part of your work day is to observe your surroundings for suspicious activities. It is important to be alert and focused to notice changes in your surroundings. Your excellent observational skills help you detect irregularities and determine the right action.
  • honesty and integrity: you are responsible for securing valuable properties, so honesty and trustworthiness are crucial when protecting your employer's property.
  • teamwork skills: as a security guard, you work in teams during shifts and practical cooperation is required. You also need interpersonal skills to communicate with other team members.
  • communication skills: as a security guard, you require exceptional communication skills as the organisation's public face. Your job involves greeting visitors and directing them courteously.

FAQs about working as a security guard

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the security guard profession.

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