How to Become a Security Officer (With Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 28, 2022

Published September 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Security officers protect the lives and properties of their clients. They also perform various functions, including responding to emergencies, working with law enforcement officials, preventing conflict on their premises, and training junior security officials. Understanding how to become a security officer can help you begin building a career in that profession. In this article, we discuss what a security officer is, highlight how to become a security officer, identify what security officers do, and explore the skills needed for the role.

What is a security officer?

A security officer protects the assets of their clients. These assets can be objects, people, or particular premises. A security officer's job is to maintain the integrity of their asset by preventing trespassing, damage, theft, or any other physical harm. In addition, they organize and execute safety schemes, estate supervision, and crisis management. Security officers can work in schools, supermarkets, banks, or corporate companies.

Related: 8 Jobs in Criminology (With Steps for Pursuing Criminology Careers)

How to become a security officer

Here are steps to follow if you wish to become a security officer:

1. Obtain an education

As a security officer, it's important to know your job duties and the roles required to perform optimally. Although a high school diploma usually suffices for the role of most security officers, obtaining a degree related to security management can make you a more attractive candidate. There are also various training programs you can enrol in to advance your career.

2. Gather work experience

Having prior experience can help you build the skills and confidence you need to perform your duties as a security officer. This experience also convinces the hiring manager you can handle your duties properly. You can gather relevant experience by performing minor security jobs in your neighbourhood. This can involve guarding a restaurant or recreation centre. You can also speak with any professional security guards you know and observe their activities at work. Finally, ensure you demonstrate your experience in your resume to aid your work applications.

3. Obtain a licence

Licensing requirements usually depend on the province where you wish to work. Do some research for the requirements needed before you take steps toward getting a licence. For example, only security agencies need a licence in some provinces, which automatically applies to their personnel. If you want to work as an individual, prepare to meet a requirement of a certain number of hours in the field and present a training certificate from a relevant institute. You can also obtain licences to carry out emergency medical procedures and handle a firearm.

4. Consider an advanced degree

Obtaining professional certificates in security can help you advance in your career as a security officer. Many of these certifications can include on-the-job experience or 40+ hours of training. The programs embedded in these training programs include security surveillance operation, CPR and first aid training, and firearm safety and operation. You can also consider degrees like criminology or criminal justice that give you more knowledge about law enforcement. This can make you an attractive candidate for high-profile clients.

Certifications to consider include:

  • Certified protection professional

  • Professional certified investigator

  • Certified fire protection specialist

  • Physical security professional

  • Certified healthcare protection administrator

  • Associate protection professional

  • Certified ethical hacker

What does a security officer do?

A security officer performs the role of inspecting and guarding property against forms of loss or destruction. Here are some other duties for a security officer:

Monitoring and patrolling

An employer can assign a security officer to monitor surveillance equipment and guard against trespassing or other illegal activities. Security officers also perform regular patrols around the premises they guard. For example, they often inspect exits and entries, areas where surveillance equipment misses, and the perimeter of their protected property. These patrols often have scheduled periods to maintain security and order.

Report writing

In addition to regular patrols and inspections, security officers also prepare reports on the asset's safety. These reports are to keep their clients informed and serve as a basis for future security efforts. Security officers need to record events that occur during their shifts and include timelines for accuracy. They also report any irregularities or system malfunctions. Similarly, where they make arrests, security officers record witness statements and interrogations of any suspect.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Report Writing

Control access

Different people go in and out of building premises every day. Security officers monitor restricted areas so that non-employees are unable to access locations meant only for employees, and visitors are unable to access places that are out of bounds. Security officers also control motor and pedestrian traffic to ensure people go to the right places and do so safely.

Emergency response and control

In the event of fire, theft, property damage, or other safety-related issues, security officers respond according to the established protocols to reduce harm and control whatever might have occurred. In addition, they are responsible for ensuring effective and productive investigations. Security officers are also responsible for informing appropriate government agencies and supporting them.

Detainment of offenders

While enforcing property laws, there may be events where you need to detain people that violate these laws. Security officers receive training to restrain offenders using force. They also interview witnesses and compile their statements for use by the relevant law enforcement agencies. Licensed security officers might need to use lethal force if the situation warrants it.

Maintaining order

Security officers are also responsible for keeping and maintaining order. This role is vital in certain locations like bars, clubs, and lounges, where conflict is common. They keep out non-members, settle fights, remove offenders, and ensure that there's appropriate behaviour on the premises. They also ensure compliance with security directives and can collaborate with other staff to confirm payments.

Security officer skills

Here are some security officer skills that can help you perform your duties more effectively:

Adequate physical fitness

The job of a security officer is physically demanding. Being in good physical shape is usually important. You may encounter situations where you need to chase or wrestle offenders. Strength, endurance, and knowledge of martial arts can be essential in such cases. You also need stamina for your regular patrol and inspection duties, which usually involve being on your feet.

Good communication skills

Being able to pass your message without misinterpretation to employers, co-workers, and visitors is an essential skill. Communication skills are also important when working with government officials or providing reports to your employer. Being able to communicate effectively can help you respond promptly to threats and maintain the security of your employer's assets.

Related: Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

Excellent teamwork skills

Security officers usually work with other security officers. As a result, they need to learn to work with other people to achieve their security aims. Usually, security officers rely on effective collaboration to secure assets that are large or valuable. For example, they constantly send update reports to each other and protect each other in violent cases.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Integrity and credibility

As security officers are usually in charge of valuable assets and people's lives, their employers need to trust their intentions. Security officers need integrity to gain the trust of their employers and clients. Integrity and credibility also prevent security officers from compromising their targets for personal gain. Security officers need to be honest and have a strong sense of duty to prepare detailed reports and maintain transparency.

Attention to detail and alertness

As a security officer, alertness at all times is necessary for performing one's duties. Security officers need to always look out for abnormalities and threats and be able to detect them easily. In addition, they need to avoid workplace distractions to avoid missing important details. Security officers are usually on their feet, patrolling the premises and paying attention to others. While the level of alertness you need depends on your role, all security officers can benefit from developing attention to detail.

Great decision-making skills

Security officers need to take initiative, especially when in unpredictable or stressful situations. The ability to make good decisions under pressure can help a security officer save lives and properties. Often, security officers encounter unpredictable situations that require quick thinking. While this trait often grows with experience, entry-level security officers can benefit from developing this ability. Making quick decisions also depends heavily on your understanding of your asset and relevant security knowledge.

Related: 9 Skills for a Security Guard (With Improvement Steps)

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