Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Summary

security guards image
Security guards check the perimeters of the areas they are expected to guard.
Quick Facts: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
2014 Median Pay $24,470 per year
$11.76 per hour
Typical 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, 2014 1,102,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 55,000

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 and officers must often 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 may need experience with security and video surveillance, depending upon their work assignment. 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 $24,470 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities should be excellent, especially for security guards.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

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 (CCTV) cameras
  • Control access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Serve as witnesses for court testimony
  • Detain violators

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.

Gaming surveillance officers 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.

Guards and officers 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 patrons’ handbags.

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 entrances 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.

Work Environment

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

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers held about 1.1 million jobs in 2014, of which nearly all were held by security guards.

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public buildings, stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers and investigators mostly work in gaming facilities operated by local governments. They are employed only in those states, and on those Indian reservations, where gambling is legal.

Security guards held nearly 1.1 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most security guards in 2014 were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services 58%
Educational services; state, local, and private 6
Health care and social assistance 6

Gaming surveillance officers held about 7,000 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most gaming surveillance officers in 2014 were as follows:

Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 38%
Casino hotels 30
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 20

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 also 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, the work can also be dangerous. 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
Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work.

Most security guard jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need 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 equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Gaming surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent and may need experience with video surveillance technology depending upon assignment.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most guards, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During those few weeks, training from their employer 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 other specialized training related to the guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically 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. Experience with video technology can also be helpful in using surveillance systems and software.

Drug testing may be required as a condition of employment and randomly during employment.

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

Guards who carry weapons usually 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 required for armed guards in most states.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Advancement

Some guards advance to supervisory or security manager positions. Those with experience or postsecondary education 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 can also move to an organization that needs higher levels of security, which may result in more prestige or higher pay.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Guards and officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises. 

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

Observation skills. Guards and officers 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 2014

Protective service occupations

$37,180

Total, all occupations

$35,540

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

$29,840

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

$24,470

Security guards

$24,410

 

The median annual wage for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators was $29,840 in May 2014. 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 less than $20,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,740.

The median annual wage for security guards was $24,410 in May 2014. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,720, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $44,200.

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 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Security guards

5%

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

5%

Protective service occupations

4%

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

-7%

 

Overall employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation.

Employment of security guards is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property because of concerns about crime, vandalism, and terrorism.

Employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators is projected to decline 7 percent from 2014 to 2024. Although states continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities are projected to be excellent, especially for security guards. The large size of the occupation and the number of workers who leave the occupation each year may result in many job openings. 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. Those with a background in law enforcement will also have an advantage.

Employment projections data for security guards and gaming surveillance officers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

1,102,500 1,157,500 5 55,000

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

33-9031 7,000 6,600 -7 -500 [XLSX]

Security guards

33-9032 1,095,400 1,150,900 5 55,500 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

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 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Correctional officers

Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,700
Gaming services occupations

Gaming Services Workers

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 $19,940
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.

See How to Become One $58,630
Private detectives and investigators

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators search for information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, such as verifying people’s backgrounds and statements, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,570
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm (visited February 11, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015