Corporations, retail stores, schools and airports rely on security offices -- or guards -- to patrol buildings, protect people and prevent crimes. Security officers also monitor surveillance equipment and alarms, detain violators and write comprehensive reports for police officers on what he witnessed. Security officers earn average annual salaries between $25,000 and $30,000.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary of a security officer was $27,240 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent made more than $42,490 annually. Security guards must have at least high school diplomas or GEDs. Employers usually train them on the job for eight to 16 hours, where they learn how to cope with crises, fill out security reports and administer first aid, according to the BLS. Security officers who work for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration must have one year of experience as security guards and pass a firearms exam, according to the BLS. Other essential requirements for the job include honesty, physical strength and observation, communication and decision-making skills.
A security officer can earn more working for certain type of employers. They earned some of the highest salaries of $52,430 working for taxi and limousine service companies, based on 2012 BLS data. They also earned relatively high salaries of $47,310 and $45,710 in the non-residential building construction and natural gas distribution industries, respectively. Security officers who worked for general medical and surgical hospitals made $31,820, while those employed by elementary and secondary schools earned $31,140. Bars and nightclubs paid their security officers about $24,630 annually.
Leading Industries for Security Guards
Approximately 74 percent, or 603,740 security officers, were employed in the U.S. investigation and security services industry in 2012, according to the BLS, earning average salaries of $25,340 annually. A security company that employs security officers for various assignments is an example of an employer in the investigation and security services industry. The next largest industry was local government agencies, which employed 38,710 employees at average salaries of $31,590. These are security officers who work at city courthouses or administration offices, for example. General medical and surgical hospitals were the third largest employer of security officers with 36,740 employees nationally. They earned average salaries of $31,820.
State and District Salaries
In 2012, security officers earned the highest average salaries $37,010 in Washington, D.C., reports the BLS. Those in Maryland, Virginia and New York also earned above-average salaries of $33,020, $31,500 and $29,790 per year, respectively. They made $27,730 per year in California, and $25,530 in Illinois. Security officers in Texas and Florida earned $24,970 and $23,370, respectively.
The BLS predicts a 19 percent increase in employment for security guards and gaming surveillance officers from 2010 to 2020, or an addition of 195,000 jobs. This rate of growth is statistically about average compared to the national rate of 14 percent for all occupations. Businesses and government agencies are expected to help drive the growth. Some security guards will take over patrols and assignments formerly done by police officers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to become a Security Guard or Gaming Surveillance Officer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Security Guards
- U.S. Transportation Security Administration: Selection and Training
- U.S. News & World Report: Careers: Security Guard
- State of Tennessee: Department of Commerce and Insurance: Unarmed Security Officer/Guard Requirements
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