Security Guard Job Market Trends

The security guard job market offers a wide range of opportunities in many different facilities and industries, from airports to zoos.

Training for a Security Guard Job

Unarmed security guards can be trained on the job, though guards that are required to carry a firearm in the course of their duties will usually need to complete a high school diploma or the equivalent, in addition to firearms training.

Depending on where they are employed, security guards may also be subject to drug testing, upon application and on an ongoing and random basis. Most states will also require a license for a security guard, which means the prospective guard is at least 18 years of age, has completed a background check and has received some formal training. There are over 150 schools in the U.S. that offer training in security and loss prevention services, and over 100 of these programs take 2 years or less to complete.

Estimating Your Salary

Since security guards are employed in a wide range of industries, the wages and salaries for security guards can vary widely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying industries for security guards include natural gas distribution, computer systems (such as server farms) and electric power generators. Top-paying states in this occupation include Alaska, District of Columbia and Washington. Some of the lower-paying employers include hotels, schools and hospitals, though security guards in these positions are the most obvious to the general public. Security guards in hotels/accommodations received an annual salary of $25,000 per year, security guards in schools make an average of $27,000 per year, and guards employed in hospitals made an average of $29,000 per year.

According to the SimplyHired salary trends for an armed security guard, where this requirement was listed in the job posting, the average salary nationwide for this position is $46,000 per year. Positions for this type of security guard will also have the most competition and highest eligibility requirements. Some employers may also prefer to hire armed security guards with previous military or policing experience.

Figuring the Outlook for Security Guard Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job openings for security guards should increase by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018. There are more opportunities for advancement and higher pay for armed security guards, though there are more educational and training requirements for these positions, as well as increased competition for available jobs. Based on available job postings indexed by their search engine, the SimplyHired Trends for security guards reports that advertised jobs for security guards have increased by 43 percent since September 2008.

Finding Job Opportunities

Prospective security guards can use the local classifieds or general online job posting boards or vertical search engines to look for job opportunities. Additional job opportunities are posted on niche job boards, such as You may also find an ad for a security guard job on college job posting services or at college career fairs where the college offers a certificate or degree in security and loss prevention.