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How much does an entry-level security guard make?

i'm asking this question because i want to to know if its enough to live off of.

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Kelly’s Answer

Thea,

Many contractor roles offer pay that is either at the state minimum wage or slightly above it. However, if you venture into internal security or armed work, you'll typically see a higher pay rate. Be mindful that many contractors prefer to hire part-time guards to avoid costs like medical insurance and vacation time. Some event venues that aren't open round-the-clock even hire security personnel only when needed. If you prove yourself as a reliable officer and progress to a managerial role, these positions tend to be more secure and financially rewarding.

Another factor to consider when looking at job postings is the nature of security contracting work. Security contractors depend on business contracts to function, which usually have a specific start and end date. Management may not always disclose this to guards, but when a contract ends or is terminated, layoffs often follow. Even if the company has other contracts, it doesn't necessarily mean there will be openings for all employees. I've seen situations where a single manager's policy violation led to the entire team's unemployment overnight, as it cost the company the entire contract. Unionized positions can sometimes handle these situations better, though they have their critics. Job stability was a significant factor that led me to exclusively seek positions in internal security departments. Here, unless the company shuts down or you're fired for misconduct, your job is generally secure.
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Ron’s Answer

Hi Thea! That is a great question, and one that is smart to consider. The short answer is, yes - but, of course, there are a lot of things to mix into your question. There are a couple of things that you’ll want think about as you explore this and any job or career path. First, when you think about what your life looks like and how much you’ll need and want, you’ll need to look for a career that provides enough benefits to support these needs. Someone who likes expensive things, versus another who prefers to live frugally and with little possessions, will have different needs in their income. Next, the security world has all levels of positions, covering all levels of pay and duties. In my area there are current postings for security guards that pay $17 an hour, and the work is done only when there is a special event or concert. There are also full-time security jobs listed that pay $60,000 a year, and also have health insurance benefits, a retirement plan, and other valuable elements that help you live a better life. Both of these are available as entry-level positions.

So, you’ll want to decide how much money is enough for you to live off of, and also consider if you are interested in working 40 hours a week at a full-time security job, or if you you’d prefer a role in which you go to work when there is a need (many people do these as-needed jobs as second jobs - jobs that provides extra income to their full-time job). This is often a progression for people, as well, in which they start working security roles as needed at special events, and then work their way into a full-time security job. This allows the guard to demonstrate their reliability to their boss, and also gives them first-hand experience to determine if this the right work for them.

As with all jobs, you can find higher paying ones if you prepare yourself with training and education, which make you a better applicant and employee. One last thing for you to consider: think about your idea of what a security officer does when they are working, and then think about what parts of that work are interesting to you. Do you like the hours, not being in an office, wearing a uniform, protecting people and buildings, or other aspects of the work?

Good luck in your search for your future career!

Ron recommends the following next steps:

Determine what you like about security guard work - imagine you doing the job
Find someone in your area who works as a security guard, and visit them while they work
Look online for professional security associations (such ASIS) and read trade magazines on the topic of security
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! this helped a lot and gave me a lot of incite,ill definitely consider and look into those things more. Thea
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