Bureau of Labor Statistics

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

security guards image
Security guards conduct security checks over their assigned patrol area.
Quick Facts: Security Guards and Gaming 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

Summary

What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property from 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, security 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 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 gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, 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 control building access for employees and visitors.

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

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce laws and protect an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Control building access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Detain violators

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, 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 offices and factories, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Security guards work in many other environments, because they work wherever people and assets need to be protected.

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.

Work Environment

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Some security guards monitor alarms or surveillance cameras from a desk.

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 wide variety of places, including public spaces, stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers and investigators are employed only in locations where gambling is legal.

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.

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

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

Work Schedules

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

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 and gaming surveillance officer jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security 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 security guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most security guards, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During this time, the employer-provided 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 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.

Gaming 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

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators may need previous work experience in surveillance or in casinos. Experience with video monitoring technology is particularly helpful, and some workers gain this experience by working as a security guard.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that security 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.

Important Qualities

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

Good judgment. Security guards and officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.

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

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

Pay

Security Guards and Gaming 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 gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of approximately 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Job Outlook

Security Guards and Gaming 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 gaming 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 gaming surveillance officers. Advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of some security guards and 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 should 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, 2019-29

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

Occupational Title

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

SOC Code33-9030
Employment, 20191,164,600
Projected Employment, 20291,197,900
Percent Change, 2019-293
Numeric Change, 2019-2933,300
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

SOC Code33-9031
Employment, 201910,500
Projected Employment, 202911,100
Percent Change, 2019-296
Numeric Change, 2019-29600
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Security guards

SOC Code33-9032
Employment, 20191,154,100
Projected Employment, 20291,186,800
Percent Change, 2019-293
Numeric Change, 2019-2932,800
Employment by IndustryGet data

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.

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

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 2019 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

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm (visited September 16, 2020).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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