Become a Security Officer: Occupational Outlook

Learn how to become a security officer. Research the education requirements, training and licensure information and experience you will need to start a career in security.

View 10 Popular Schools »

Do I Want to Be a Security Officer?

Security officers patrol and protect property and monitor any potential criminal activity. Their specific job duties vary depending on their employer, which might include schools, museums, shopping malls and offices. For example, a security officer may be on his or her feet all day or sit in a guardhouse. Before accepting a specific position, an individual should research different options and determine the right fit. This occupation can be very routine, but it can also turn hazardous quickly. Security officers have the power to detain individuals suspected of criminal activity and in some cases may carry a firearm.

Job Requirements

Generally, security officers don't need any formal education beyond a high school diploma; however, some employers may require further education. Many states also require security officers to obtain licensure. The following table contains the core requirements for security officers:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Typically, no postsecondary education is required, but some security officers may need an undergraduate degree*
Degree Fields Criminal justice or police science*
Licensure and Certification Many states require licensure for security officers; armed officers must be licensed*; voluntary certification is available*
Experience No experience is necessary for entry-level positions*
Key Skills Decision-making, communication and observation skills*
Computer Skills Familiarity with database, spreadsheet and word processing software, such as Microsoft Excel and Word**
Technical Skills Security officers should know how to use first aid kits, fire extinguishers and handcuffs; some security officers may use firearms**
Additional Requirements Security officers should be physically fit and strong, as altercations may occur on the job*; driver's license is needed to patrol areas**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine.

Step 1: Complete a Postsecondary Program

Most security officer positions don't require postsecondary education; however, some employers look for applicants with higher education. Completing a program in criminal justice or police science may allow a security officer to advance in his or her career to a supervisory position.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice are available at community colleges and 4-year universities. Students in these programs take a variety of courses that cover a broad range of topics. Coursework may include criminology, criminal investigations, victimology, criminal procedures, juvenile justice and cultural anthropology.

Success Tips:

  • Avoid violating the law. Because a security officer is responsible for enforcing rules and deterring criminal activity, it's important that an individual in this job doesn't break the law. Employers look for security officers who have and maintain clean criminal records.
  • Take advantage of a school's career services. Some schools offer career development services for students to help them prepare and secure employment after graduation. Available services may include career counseling, interview tips and resume guidance.
  • Complete an internship or co-operative learning experience. Internships or co-ops are offered by some colleges and universities and are opportunities for students in criminal justice programs to gain hands-on experience. Working alongside law enforcement or security professionals can help provide insight into the field and add depth to a student's resume.

Step 2: Acquire Job-Specific Training

Employers want to make sure their security officers have the necessary knowledge to keep both property and people safe. Thus, after they've been hired, individuals typically receive on-the-job training in areas such as crime prevention and emergency procedures. Those hired as armed security guards generally go through weapons training as well.

Step 3: Get Licensed

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require licensure for security officers. Requirements vary but generally include passing drug and background checks, being at least 18 years old and completing classroom instruction in relevant subjects. Security guards who carry handguns must obtain a firearms license through their governmental authority and are subject to comprehensive background checks.

Step 4: Consider Professional Certification

Security officers can earn voluntary certification through ASIS International, a professional organization for security workers. Certification isn't a requirement; however, security guards who hold the designation of Certified Protection Professional may have a competitive edge in the job market. Certification may also help with advancement opportunities. To be eligible for certification, a security officer must have 9 years of experience or a combination of experience and education.

Show me popular schools

Related to Security Officer

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Security Officer: Salary Info, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a security officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as...

Transportation Security Officer: Job Duties, Salary and Outlook

Transportation security officers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, salary and employment...

Homeland Security Officer: Career Options and Requirements

Research homeland security career information. Learn about the job description, education and training requirements to make an...

Chief Security Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

While chief security officers may provide physical protection or emergency management planning at a company, digital security...

Campus Security Officer: Job Description, Salary and Requirements

Popular Schools

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (2 campuses)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Criminal Justice

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Psychology programs do not lead to licensure and do not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.
    • An online degree does not lead to teacher licensure in any state; online education programs are not CAEP
    • * TEAC
    • or NCATE accredited
    • which is a requirement for certification in some states.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Undergraduate applicants must be a high school graduate or have completed GED; Graduate program applicants must have a master's degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • BS in Homeland Security

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor of Science - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center
    • Associate
        • Associate - Criminal Justice Brooklyn Center

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • A minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submit high school transcript(s)
    • Submit college transcript(s) (if applicable)
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • BS in Criminal Justice

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must hold a Bachelor's degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    During which term would you like to start?

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics