21st Century Security Officer - Career Guide
WHAT IS A SECURITY OFFICER?
When you ask different organizations or Private Security companies you will get different answers. The bottom line is you are a private citizen employed / contracted to perform security related tasks for a client that is paying for those services. Your primary focus will undoubtedly focus on protecting people, property, and the assets therein. Since the type of security service varies along with your uniform and equipment many people have misconceptions about what Security Officers can and cannot do. These rules, regulations, and guidelines may also be different in another Country, State, County or City.
Ensure to consult your company when you have legal questions as they should be able to refer you to the correct agency that regulates your actions in the field. Just remember, you are not a Peace / Police Officer “Cop”, you are a private citizen employed by a company to perform security related tasks on behalf of that company. Your actions will impact the company, its employee, and its shareholders you have been hired to represent.
WHAT IS A POLICE OFFICER?
A Police Officer or “Peace Officer” is an agent of a government office whether Federal, State, County, City or other. Bottom line is they were sworn in to serve the Government and the people to enforce laws, investigate crimes and make arrests as required. Now we can argue semantics all day (and most security professionals do) but cops are highly trained individuals. Many of which spend nearly six months training at a specialized facility before they are ever put on the streets (Most Security Officers only train for 8 – 40 hours before being placed at their post). Even then, once they make it to their department; they normally have to pass a probationary period with a field training officer or FTO before they can fly solo.
DIFFERENCES IN TRAINING
Security Officer training varies greatly from country to country and state to state. In some cases zero training is required prior to becoming a Security Officer (A REALLY BAD IDEA!). This is a scary reality because more often than not these individuals will overstep their legal boundaries creating some serious liability or possibly placing the lives of others at risk. I cannot stress enough that your actions on duty will impact others.
In the best circumstances Security Officers are required to meet a Federal and State required training mandate as well as internal training requirements from their employer. This will help ensure that they have a basic understanding or their responsibilities and limitations.
Client sites where Security Officers are employed with weapons or advanced tasks will often be required to take additional training, complete testing and acquire certifications before they can conduct their duties. I would suggest that even if you meet basic requirements to carry any sort of weapons that you take additional and recurring training to hone your skills.
Types of training can include but are not limited to:
· Access control
· Customer Service
· Emergency Response
· Report Writing
· First Aid, CPR, AED
Police Officers on the other hand are very well trained individuals on par with most military organizations. In some cases Police Cadets train for up to 6 straight months prior to becoming a sworn Peace Officer.
Types of training include but are not limited to:
· Foreign Language
· Community Policing
· Computer Administration
· Constitutional and Criminal Law
· Domestic Preparedness
· Domestic Violence
· Emergency Vehicle Operations
· First AID/CPR
· Hate crimes
· Public Relations
· Juvenile law
· Mediation skills/conflict management
· Officer Liability
· Patrol Techniques
· Problem solving
· Stress prevention/management
· Non-Lethal Weapons
Keep in mind that the above list is just a snapshot of the training Police Officers receive and this document is in no way meant to cover the wide breadth of Law Enforcement knowledge. So as you can see there is a fundamental difference in responsibilities, training and capabilities. Again, be sure you understand clearly what your role is and also take the time to ask:
“What are my limitations?”
PAY “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
Pay for Security Officers tends to be relatively low and in most cases is minimum wage. Livable wages are often not attained until you reach middle level management. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics said in 2013 that over one million persons were employed as Security Officers. The average wage of all those Security Officers was just $13.24 USD and the average yearly wage was $27,550 USD. Now I don’t know about you but I can’t live on those wages. Bottom line, if you want better wages you need to get promoted! Do you want to get promoted? Of course you do and I want to help you!
Police Officer pay and benefits are often in line with local market conditions. This allows the Police Officer to purchase a home if they wish, pay off debts, and often spend more time focusing on their job instead of worrying how they will pay rent every month. In some geographical areas it has become a challenge to maintain Police Officer pay with sky rocketing costs of living. This in turn has deterred many would be Police Officers to search for higher paying jobs such as the Information Technology industry.