Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Summary

security guards image
Security guards control access to buildings by checking IDs.
Quick Facts: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
2012 Median Pay $24,020 per year
$11.55 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 1,083,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 12% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 130,200

What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity.

Work Environment

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public buildings, retail stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers work mostly in casino observation rooms, using audio and video equipment. Because many buildings and casinos are open 24 hours a day, guards often must work around the clock.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gaming Surveillance Officer

Most security guard jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need additional experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Pay

The median annual wage for security guards and gaming surveillance officers was $24,020 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities should be excellent, especially for security guards.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of security guards and gaming surveillance officers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about security guards and gaming surveillance officers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Security guards may use metal detectors to screen entrants to buildings.

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Protect and enforce laws on an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV cameras
  • Control access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on patrol
  • Interview witnesses for court testimony
  • Detain violators

Guards must remain alert, looking out for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards are armed.

A security guard’s responsibilities vary from one employer to another. In retail stores, guards protect people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

In office buildings, banks, hotels, and hospitals, guards maintain order and protect the organization’s customers, staff, and property.

Guards who work in museums and art galleries protect paintings and exhibits by watching people and inspecting the contents of personal handbags that patrons carry.

In factories, government buildings, and military bases, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Guards working in parks and at sports stadiums control crowds, supervise parking and seating, and direct traffic.

Security guards stationed at the entrance to bars and nightclubs keep underage people from entering, collect cover charges, and maintain order among customers.

Security guards working in schools and universities patrol the buildings and grounds, looking for suspicious activity.

The following are examples of types of security guards and gaming surveillance officers:

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Armored car guards protect money and valuables during transit. They pick up money and other valuables from businesses and transport them to another location. These guards usually wear bulletproof vests and carry firearms, because transporting money between the truck and the business is potentially dangerous.

Gaming surveillance officers, also known as surveillance agents and gaming investigators, act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment in an observation room, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

Work Environment

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
A plain clothed security guard monitors the entrance of a store to prevent shoplifting.

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers held about 1.1 million jobs in 2012.

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public buildings, retail stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers and investigators mostly work in the gaming industry and at casino hotels. They are employed only in those states, and on those Indian reservations, where gambling is legal.

The industries that employed the most security guards and gaming surveillance officers in 2012 were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services56%
Educational services; state, local, and private6
Health care and social assistance6
Accommodation and food services6
Government5

Most security guards spend considerable time on their feet, either at a single post or patrolling buildings and grounds. Some may sit for long periods behind a counter or in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community.

Guards who work during the day may have a great deal of contact with other employees and the public.

Although the work can be routine, it can be hazardous, particularly when an altercation occurs.

Most gaming surveillance officers sit behind a desk observing gamers on video surveillance equipment.

Injuries and Illnesses

Security guards have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Although the work is mostly routine, there can be potential dangers. As a result, guards must always be alert for threats to themselves and the people and property they are protecting.

Work Schedules

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of 8 hours, or longer, with rotating schedules.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gaming Surveillance Officer

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Guards who are employed at establishments that place a heavy emphasis on security may receive training in the use of firearms.

Most security guard jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need additional experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards generally need a high school diploma or GED, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Some employers, however, prefer to hire security guards with higher education, such as a 2- or 4-year degree in police science or criminal justice.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During those few weeks, training typically covers emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive approximately 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8–16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. This may include training in protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and specialized training related to the guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may periodically be tested in the use of firearms.

For gaming surveillance officers and investigators, some employers prefer candidates with previous work experience in casinos or individuals with a background in law enforcement. Technical skills and computer skills can also be helpful in using surveillance systems and software.

Drug testing may be required.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work. Although registration requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

An increasing number of states are making ongoing training a legal requirement for staying registered.

Guards who carry weapons must be registered by the appropriate government authority. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards. Rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, are typical for armed guards.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Advancement

Some guards advance to supervisory or security manager positions. Those with postsecondary education or with industry certifications should have an advantage. Armed security guards have a greater potential for advancement and enjoy higher earnings.

Some guards with management skills open their own security guard business. Guards also can move to an organization that needs higher levels of security, which may result in more prestige or higher pay.

Important Qualities

Decision-making skills. Guards must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.  

Patience. Security guards may need to spend long periods standing and observing their environment without distractions.

Observation skills. Guards must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Physical strength. Guards must be strong enough to apprehend offenders and to handle emergency situations.

Pay

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

$29,610

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

$24,020

Security guards

$23,970

 

The median annual wage for security guards and gaming surveillance officers was $24,020 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned $17,400, and the top 10 percent earned more than $42,560.

The median annual wages for security guard and gaming surveillance officer occupations in May 2012 were as follows:

  • $29,610 for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators
  • $23,970 for security guards

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of 8 hours, or longer, with rotating schedules.

Job Outlook

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Security guards

12%

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

12%

Total, all occupations

11%

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

7%

 

Overall employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of security guards is projected to grow 12 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property. Concern about crime, vandalism, and terrorism will result in the need for security. Demand should be strong in the private sector as private security firms take over some of the work police officers used to do.

Employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators is projected to grow 7 percent, slower than the average for all occupations. As gambling continues to be legalized in more states and casinos grow in number, demand for gaming surveillance officers and investigators will also grow.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities should be excellent, especially for security guards. The large size of the occupation will result in many job openings as workers leave the occupation each year. However, there will be more competition for higher paying positions that require more training and experience.

Candidates who have experience with video surveillance equipment should have the best job prospects in the gaming industry. Also, those with a background in law enforcement will have an advantage.

Employment projections data for Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

1,083,600 1,213,800 12 130,200

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

33-9031 9,300 10,000 7 600 [XLS]

Security guards

33-9032 1,074,300 1,203,900 12 129,600 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Correctional officers

Correctional Officers

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in a jail or prison.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,970
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

High school diploma or equivalent $56,980
Private detectives and investigators

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators find facts and analyze information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, including verifying people's backgrounds, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,740
Gaming services occupations

Gaming Services Occupations

Gaming services workers serve customers in gambling establishments, such as casinos or racetracks. Some workers tend slot machines deal cards, or oversee other gaming activities such as keno or bingo. Others take bets or pay out winnings. Still others supervise or manage gaming workers and operations.

High school diploma or equivalent $20,210
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm (visited April 19, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014