How Much do Security Guards Get Paid?

If you’re thinking about a career as a security guard professional, there is a wide variety of opportunities available in this country because security is a key concern for many businesses, individuals, and for business groups like malls. While the pay rate varies based on several factors, more money can be earned by becoming better trained and by acquiring the ability to use firearms. With more experience, it’s very possible to find well-paying security job, and to advance in the field.

Job Description for Security Guards

The job description for a security guard generally includes providing protection for facilities by patrolling the premises, either on foot or in a vehicle. They are charged with searching for dangerous activities or suspicious-looking persons who might pose a safety risk to the facility or any of the employees within. Another part of the job description calls for responding to emergency situations and alarms, and handling them so as to defuse any possibility of danger or violence.

In some cases, a security guard is also required to welcome tenants or guests, provide information about the company, and to direct visitors to appropriate destinations. It is also part of the security guard’s responsibilities to perform fire prevention, possibly to carry out traffic enforcement, and to conduct safety and maintenance tasks in the performance of normal duties.

Current Salary Expectations

Current expectations for pay rates as a security guard professional hover anywhere between $14 per hour and $17 per hour. These figures refer to security guards, and you can expect that an armed security guard would receive approximately $5 to $10 more per hour due to their greater level of training and experience. The typical pay rate for an unarmed security guard in this country is approximately $15.50 per hour, although there can be incentives added into that figure to boost it in some cases.

A figure known as the total hourly cash compensation would include all short-term incentives as well as base incentives, and that could drive up the average hourly salary for a security guard to about $17 per hour. There is actually a great deal of variability in the security guard profession, because there are so many different types of security guards.

For instance, there could be crossing guards, security coordinators, mall security guards, private company security guards, and a whole slew of others who provide that same service but who have different titles. Generally speaking, all of these individuals would fall into the $14-$17 per hour category, under current pay rates.

Industry Trends: Is Hourly Pay Increasing?

According to the federal Office of Personnel Management, security guard pay has increased approximately $12,000 over the last 13 years, which equates to nearly a $1,000 a year increase. Starting from an average annual salary of $31,923 in 2004, the average annual salary for security guards in 2017 had risen to $43,604. This is a very promising trend in the pay scale for security guards, especially since there was a steady increase every single year in this survey, and there were no years where pay remained stagnant.

Assuming this trend were to continue, it is reasonable to expect that the pay for a security guard might reach an average annual salary of around $50,000 by the year 2024. The best states to work as a security guard are Louisiana and Rhode Island, where current average annual salaries are well over the $40,000 mark. In other areas of the country, the pay rate remains somewhat depressed, so those aspiring to be security guards would be well advised to check out industry trends in the area where they seek employment.

What Is the Next Step in the Career of a Security Guard?

Security guards generally start out as unarmed entry-level security personnel at the bottom of the totem pole, both in experience and in earnings. After having achieved about four years of experience in this profession, it’s possible to move into a higher pay grade, with additional responsibilities, including the possibility of becoming an armed guard. Armed guards will always earn more money than unarmed guards, simply because they have been trained to a higher level, and are competent in the use of firearms.

Having reached this level of experience, there are a few more opportunities available to individuals who were once entry-level security guards. You might be able to find an opportunity to do private security work for an individual, possibly as a bodyguard or protector for a celebrity or public figure. You might also be hired as a security specialist for individual events, where there might be an increased risk of danger or security breaches. For someone who reaches a top level in the security profession, it might be possible to earn as much as $60-$100 per hour providing security for events and for individuals.

Final Thoughts on Security Guard Salaries in 2019

There are a number of professional positions in this country which call for an individual to provide protection for facilities and for employees within those facilities. Generally speaking, an unarmed security guard will earn between $5 and $10 less per hour than an armed security guard would, simply because an armed security guard has received more training, and is theoretically more skillful.

Under current pay guidelines, most security guard professionals in this country can expect to be paid somewhere between $14 per hour and $17 per hour, depending on whether or not incentives are added in to those figures. It is possible for security guards who accrue more and more experience to move on into better paying security jobs. Some of these can include working for a private individual or corporation as a bodyguard or a premises guard, or to be hired as a security specialist for events which have a greater security risk. 

Anyone interested in a career as a security guard can expect to earn somewhere between $31,000 and $43,000 annually, although those figures are virtually certain to continue rising in the future. If security is your thing, there are plenty of opportunities available in this country.

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