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Over 60 percent of protective service jobs were in the public sector in May 2021

May 16, 2022

Protective service occupations had employment of nearly 3.4 million in May 2021, representing 2.4 percent of U.S. employment. Sixty-two percent of protective service jobs were in the public sector, compared with about 15 percent of overall employment. Security guards, with employment of nearly 1.1 million, was the largest protective service occupation. About 90 percent of security guards were employed in the private sector. After security guards, the largest protective service occupations were police and sheriff’s patrol officers (665,380), correctional officers and jailers (392,600), and firefighters (317,310). Unlike security guards, these occupations had over 90 percent of their employment in the public sector.

Employment, percent of employment in public sector, and annual mean wage for protective service occupations, May 2021
Occupation Employment, all ownerships Percent in public sector Annual mean wage, all ownerships

All protective service occupations

3,385,030 62.2% $53,420

Security guards

1,057,100 9.6 35,830

Police and sheriff's patrol officers

665,380 99.0 70,750

Correctional officers and jailers

392,600 94.9 53,420


317,310 93.8 55,290

First-line supervisors of police and detectives

128,230 98.9 98,760

Lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers

114,320 39.6 27,320

Detectives and criminal investigators

107,890 99.9 90,370

Protective service workers, all other

100,110 60.1 42,160

Crossing guards and flaggers

82,690 52.6 35,670

First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers

80,890 96.2 83,270

First-line supervisors of security workers

55,450 11.8 55,080

School bus monitors

55,310 58.8 30,220

First-line supervisors of correctional officers

54,470 97.0 69,750

Transportation security screeners

48,320 85.9 46,380

Private detectives and investigators

28,860 12.8 60,970

First-line supervisors of protective service workers, all other

23,780 47.7 63,910


16,420 99.0 52,340

Fire inspectors and investigators

14,600 78.8 69,680

Animal control workers

11,600 92.3 42,620

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

9,190 62.1 38,080

Parking enforcement workers

7,450 94.2 46,050

Fish and game wardens

6,730 100.0 58,190

Transit and railroad police

3,590 86.9 69,570

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

2,770 97.8 54,340

The annual mean wage for protective service occupations was $53,420, compared with $58,260 for all occupations combined. The highest paying protective service occupations were first-line supervisors of police and detectives ($98,760), detectives and criminal investigators ($90,370), and first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers ($83,270).

School bus monitors ($30,220) and lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers ($27,320) were the lowest paying protective service occupations. The largest protective service occupation, security guards ($35,830), was also among the lowest paying.

These data are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program. Employment and annual mean wages represent public and private sector jobs combined. Public sector employment includes federal executive branch and U.S. Postal Service; state government, including schools and hospitals; and local government, including schools, hospitals, gambling establishments, and casino hotels. To learn more, see the May 2021 national occupational employment and wage estimates and occupational data by industry and ownership. Also see Occupational Employment and Wages in State and Local Government.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Over 60 percent of protective service jobs were in the public sector in May 2021 at (visited May 24, 2024).

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