Security Jobs and Careers
For many people, working in the security sector provides a second, part-time income or employment after redundancy during the recession. For many others with the right training, it's a solid and secure career with jobs always available.
The security vacancies on offer are diverse, ranging from CCTV security to private security guards at all kinds of commercial and public establishments. These include airports, retail premises, corporate offices, pubs or licensed premises, public events, hospitals and banks, etc.
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The work can be demanding and stressful, with the degree of pressure varying according to the location and environment. As in any sector, guards with good experience who gain appropriate qualifications can pick from the more rewarding jobs. If you want to establish a good, lasting career, it's worth finding out the most advantageous career route at any early stage.
Security Guard Jobs Description
Security personnel are usually concerned with variations on a central task - that of keeping people, buildings or possessions safe and secure. This may be done in any industry, with varying degrees of public visibility. Large corporations tend to be the largest employers, with the strongest career structures.
The job description for security guards can include any of the following:
- Patrolling premises and buildings periodically through the day or night.
- Monitoring gate barriers at the entrance to premises.
- Searching bags and possessions of individuals entering the premises, with the aim of finding weapons or illegal items.
- Viewing the monitors of close circuit television security systems.
- Collecting and checking tickets for admission to premises.
- Dealing with disputes and fights that occur and removing perpetrators from the property (especially at entertainment venues).
- Writing reports after events and incidents.
- Handling trained guard dogs.
- Delivering valuable items in secure vans (e.g. depositing financial takings at banks).
- Liaising with police officers and other law enforcers.
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Essential Skills for Security Jobs
A reasonable level of education will help if you're aiming at the more attractive security jobs in the industry, especially as there are no formal entry qualifications. Some basic experience of working with the public is undeniably an advantage. A good level of physical fitness is a prerequisite, along with good vision.
Additionally, you will need to have a clean record, both personally and in your work history. Any evidence of unpredictable or violent outbursts will work against you. You'll need to declare any criminal convictions. If the transgression occurred more than 10 years ago, it will be viewed as less serious than something more recent.
Experience using security systems, including computers, cameras and other surveillance equipment, is valuable. Depending on the kind of security work you wish to do, you may need a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. You'll certainly need this if you're going to be armed with firearms.
Unsurprisingly, individuals with police or military backgrounds are well-suited to security work. They bring a dedicated approach to work and alertness to the smallest change in circumstances that are ideal for the role.
A knowledge of health and safety, plus first aid qualifications, are also valuable.
Type of Person for Security Jobs
As well as having certain skills, your personal qualities need to be suited to this work. A mature and responsible attitude to your work is essential, combined with the ability to use your initiative in unpredictable situations. Loyalty to an employer is generally expected and is fundamental to the role.
A confident personality and assertive manner are hugely important, especially if working in an entertainment venue where alcohol fuelled incidents may occur. The ability to remain calm under any degree of pressure is critical. Not only this, but it's important that you can continue thinking clearly in difficult situations.
Assertiveness isn't the only personal quality valued by employers. In many public venues, security guards need to be friendly and in constant communication with staff and visitors. This particularly applies to hotel security or high end retail stores.
As already mentioned, physical fitness and strength are required in most roles. Martial arts experience is seen as an advantage, given that people being removed from the premises may become difficult and combative. Additionally, communication and negotiation skills are central to handling and resolving disputes without resorting to physical force.
Ultimately, employers with clear public images are likely to prefer someone who carries themselves in a professional way and is able to use sound judgement in dealing with many different situations. Security personnel, even under contract, are representing the employer and are likewise in a position to do most damage to their reputation.
Security Jobs Training
The highest level of training available for security guards is to become licensed with the Security Industry Authority (contact details are below). Doing so requires some investment, but licensed individuals are up to three times more likely to gain employment, particularly in public places. Candidates who have been through certain training organisations are almost guaranteed a place on interview shortlists.
Most security guards and officers receive on-the-job training, with supervision provided by the employer. This is due to the idiosyncrasies of so many establishments. Specific training may be provided for specialist roles, such as handling trained guard dogs.
There are qualifications set up by training authorities specifically for the industry: the NVQ Level 2 in Providing Security Services and the City & Guilds, National Open College Network (NOCN) and Education Development International plc (EDI) awarded Certificate for Security Guards or Security Practitioners.
Hours and conditions for Security Work
Most security work involves unsocial hours, with shift covering all 24-hours of the day. Conditions may be outdoors, cold and uncomfortable, or indoors, hot and crowded.
The average salary is around £18,000. Hourly rates can vary between £6.50 and £8 per hour. Lucrative jobs, for instance in a five star hotel, can pay around £25,000.
Security Jobs Sites
- Recruitment board for the fire and security industries - www.securityvacancies.com
- Security jobs from G4S G4S Careers