Security Officer

Thousands of businesses across the country hire security officers. Although many people don't think of these as criminal justice jobs, they play a vital role in fighting crime. A security officer protects property, materials, customers, and employees from harm. They may be asked to protect priceless artifacts, keep a close eye on gamblers at a blackjack table, monitor port terminals for suspicious behavior, assist in security measures at a professional sporting event, or work with an armored transport company. Often, just the presence of a security officer deters would-be criminals. Many banks hire security officers for this reason alone.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

A security officer's main job duties include working to help deter criminal activities before they occur and developing quick appropriate responses to security breaches. Work is typically a mixture of patrolling duties and stationary duties. Some of these criminal justice jobs require the officer to be armed. A security officer's day-to-day job duties depend on the type of organization he works for.

To be successful, an officer needs to have a heightened sense of vigilance to spot potential suspicious behavior. A thorough understanding of certain local, state, and federal laws is essential. Excellent communication skills are also necessary. A security officer must be able to communicate with a variety of customers and employees. They may even be required to testify at a trial.

Large organizations often hire a team of security officers. The team may be asked to patrol the office to make sure employees are not engaged in suspicious behavior. Some offices require certain clearance levels. A security officer may monitor computer equipment to ensure that clearances are not being breached. Often, an officer will be posted at the building's entrance to check credentials of employees and visitors. Officers may also issue visitor passes, monitor parking lots, and coordinate security awareness events.

Museums hire security officers to patrol its galleries. Their duties range from asking patrons not to touch exhibits to making sure heists are not being planned. They might be assigned to monitor storage rooms via close-circuit cameras or inspect packages at the receiving docks.

Airports, port terminals, power plants, and subway systems hire security officers too. Since the events of 9/11, these particular security jobs have even greater importance. These organizations know that terrorists want to breach their security to unleash terrible destruction. Of all the security jobs, these require some of the most heightened vigilance. Many of these security officers will be armed.

Department stores, manufacturing facilities, and financial services also hire security officers. Officers must be able to quickly react to potentially dangerous situations, including robbery attempts. They must fully understand procedures and know how to alert the authorities as quickly as possible if trouble occurs. Casinos also hire teams of security officers to monitor patrons. Gamblers are known to cheat, especially when it comes to counting cards at the table. These officers may monitor the gamblers via cameras, walking the casino floor, or observing from the catwalk.

Necessary Training

Most entry-level security officer jobs do not require college degrees. However, companies will look for at least a high school diploma or GED. A clean criminal record is also necessary. If you want to manage a team of security guards or become the director of security for a large corporation, additional education will be required. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice or criminology can help you meet those types of career goals.

The majority of security officer jobs are found at security agencies. The agencies assign you to work at an organization based on your skills and interests. They provide you with the necessary training to perform a job successfully. After all, you are representing the agency and they want to look their best in the public's eye. Most officers go through a minimum of 50 hours of training during their first three months of employment. Training will focus on law enforcement procedures, communication skills, weapons handling, emergency procedures, and report writing.

States require security officers to hold a license, but each state decides its own requirements. Background tests and drug screenings are will be done, along with proving that you are at least 18 years old. Some states also require you to complete a few security related training classes. Armed officers also must have a weapons permit.

Job Outlook and Projected Salary

The United States Census Bureau estimates that job growth for security officers will continue to grow at a rate of 14% over the next ten years. More and more companies are hiring these officers to protect their property as crime and vandalism continues to increase. The majority of jobs will be found at private security firms. Many security officers work part-time for these firms, while working full time as a police officer or other law enforcement professional. The average salary for a security officer is estimated to be $26,430. However, your salary will be determined by the industry you work in, where you are located, and your level of experience.

Last Updated: 04/29/2014