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Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfdJ2Eh4bHw.
Quick Facts: Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers
2019 Median Pay $29,710 per year
$14.29 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2019 1,164,600
Job Outlook, 2019-29 3% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 33,300

What Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers protect property from illegal activity.

Work Environment

Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, retail stores, and office buildings. Gambling surveillance officers work mostly in casinos. Because many buildings and casinos are open 24 hours a day, security guards and officers often must work around the clock.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gambling Surveillance Officer

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers typically need a high school diploma. Gambling surveillance officers may also need experience with security and video surveillance, depending on their work assignment. Most states require guards to be licensed by the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Pay

The median annual wage for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators was $34,190 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for security guards was $29,680 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of security guards and gambling surveillance officers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Along with openings arising from employment growth, other openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

State & Area Data

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

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers Do About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Security guards control building access for employees and visitors.

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Patrol property
  • Enforce rules and regulations of an employer's property
  • Monitor alarms and video-surveillance systems
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Deter criminal activity
  • Control building access by employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty

Guards and officers must stay alert, watching for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to contact police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards carry firearms.

Security guards work wherever people and assets need to be protected. Responsibilities vary by employer. In offices and factories, for example, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises. In retail stores, guards protect people, 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.

Gambling surveillance officers work in freestanding casinos and other facilities that have designated areas for gambling, such as hotels, video gaming terminals, and riverboats. They typically work from an observation room within the gaming facility.

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.

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment, 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 About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers may need to monitor activity on multiple cameras.

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators held about 10,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 56%
Casino hotels 18
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 16
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6
Spectator sports 3

Security guards held about 1.2 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of security guards were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services 59%
Educational services; state, local, and private 6
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Accommodation and food services 5
Government 4

Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, stores, and office buildings. Gambling surveillance officers and investigators are employed in casinos and other gaming facilities only in locations where gambling is legal.

Guards may spend considerable time on their feet patrolling buildings and grounds or may sit for long periods at a single post, such as in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community. Others may spend periods of time in a vehicle, patrolling the property and grounds.

Both security guards and gambling surveillance officers may spend much of their shift sitting at a desk or counter in a dark room, observing customers on video surveillance equipment. They may have to monitor activity on multiple screens for long periods of time without distraction.

Work Schedules

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common. Most security guards and gambling surveillance officers work full time. Seasonal work may be available during the holidays and during the warmer summer months in some states.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gambling Surveillance Officer About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work.

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers typically require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Gambling surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security guards to be licensed by the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not require formal educational credentials. Gambling surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards and surveillance officers, the amount of training varies. Most security guards learn their job in a few weeks, but gambling surveillance officers and investigators may need several months. Employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, crime prevention, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. Instruction may include protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and other specialized training related to the security 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.

Gambling surveillance officers and investigators receive training in topics such as the rules of casino games, gaming regulations, identifying cheating techniques, and the proper use of video and radio equipment.

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

Work experience in a related occupation

To enter the occupation, gambling surveillance officers and investigators typically need work experience in casinos or with video monitoring technology. Candidates sometimes gain video monitoring experience by working as a security guard.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that security guards be licensed by the state in which they work. Although licensing 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 licensed by the appropriate government authority. Positions for armed guards have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than do those for unarmed guards. Most states require rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, for armed guards.

Some states and gaming facilities require a minimum age of 21 to work in a casino.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Security guards and surveillance officers must communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations.

Interpersonal skills. Security guards often regularly interact with the public; in addition, they must be able to handle and deescalate confrontational situations.

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

Problem-solving skills. Security guards and surveillance officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.

Pay About this section

Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Total, all occupations

$39,810

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

$34,190

Other protective service workers

$29,770

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

$29,710

Security guards

$29,680

 

The median annual wage for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators was $34,190 in May 2019. 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 $24,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,700.

The median annual wage for security guards was $29,680 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,310.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $68,120
Casino hotels 36,930
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 34,710
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 32,050
Spectator sports 31,500

In May 2019, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $34,730
Educational services; state, local, and private 34,460
Healthcare and social assistance 34,330
Accommodation and food services 30,260
Investigation, guard, and armored car services 28,470

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Job Outlook About this section

Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

6%

Total, all occupations

4%

Other protective service workers

4%

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

3%

Security guards

3%

 

Overall employment of security guards and gambling surveillance officers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, 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 and vandalism.

States continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, resulting in the need for gambling surveillance officers and investigators.

Advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of some security guards and gambling surveillance officers and investigators.

Job Prospects

About 144,000 openings for security guards and gambling surveillance officers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Candidates for higher paying positions, which may require extensive training and experience, should face the most competition. Those who have a background in law enforcement may have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for security guards and gambling surveillance officers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

33-9030 1,164,600 1,197,900 3 33,300 Get data

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

33-9031 10,500 11,100 6 600 Get data

Security guards

33-9032 1,154,100 1,186,800 3 32,800 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2019 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Correctional officers

Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers oversee those 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 $45,300
Gaming services occupations

Gaming Services Workers

Gaming services workers serve customers in gambling establishments, such as casinos or racetracks.

High school diploma or equivalent $23,520
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

See How to Become One $65,170
Private detectives and investigators

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators search for information about legal, financial, and personal matters.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,510
Firefighters

Firefighters

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Postsecondary nondegree award $50,850
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm (visited October 29, 2020).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.