How Much Do Security Guard Jobs Pay?

Security guards are responsible for enforcing specific company rules and noticing lawbreakers. Read on to learn more about the job requirements of a security guard and how much you can expect to earn. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

The occupation of security guard is often called by different names, including security officer, security guard and surveillance officer. Regardless of your official job title, you'll perform the duties of protecting your employer and employer's property from illegal activities. You'll do this by patrolling the area in order to deter and detect criminal activities or other issues.

When you're not actively patrolling, you'll be writing reports on observations you've made or problems you've found. Additional job duties can be dependent upon the nature of your employer, but can include activities like monitoring security cameras, responding to alarm calls or issuing traffic violations.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education High school diploma or GED
On-the-Job Training Varies; typically lasts a few weeks
Licensure Registration is required by most states; guards carrying weapons must be registered
Key Skills Observation and decision-making skills; physical strength and patience
Work Environment Varies; can include office buildings, stores, and other public buildings
Similar Occupations Correctional officer, detective, correctional officer

Salary Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean hourly wage for a security guard in May 2014 was $13.48, and the mean annual wage was $28,040 ( In the same year, the median hourly wage was $11.74, and the median annual income was $24,410. Security guards whose earnings were in the top ten percent at that time had hourly salaries of $21.25 or more and yearly incomes of $44,200 or more. Those in the bottom ten percent had hourly salaries of $8.52 or less and yearly incomes of $17,720 or less.

Salary by Industry

If you're interested in industries that pay the most, the BLS reported that industries with the top mean pay in May 2014 included electric power generation, transmission and distribution ($48,700), natural gas distribution ($48,650), securities and commodity exchanges ($46,450), rail transportation ($45,890) and performing arts companies ($45,150). Be aware that jobs at these types of institutions are highly competitive.

The industries with the highest levels of employment for security guards in May 2014 were investigation and security services, hospitals, schools, traveler accommodation and local government. Average salaries for these industries were $26,070, $32,720, $32,050, $29,520 and $35,170, respectively.

Salary by Location

High security guard employment levels were found in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois in May 2014, according to the BLS. Workers in these states earned mean wages of $27,650, $31,970, $26,250, $22,970 and $30,110, respectively. The highest average pay was found in the District of Columbia ($38,750), Alaska ($36,200), Iowa ($34,760), Washington ($32,800) and Idaho ($32,180). The lowest paying areas for security guards had average salaries of $17,350-$25,090, and some example locations included Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Montana, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Salary by Experience

According to in September 2015, reported wages for security guards with less than five yeasr of experience were $19,204-$47,698. Salaries increased to $20,334-$49,833 with 5-10 years of experience and averaged $18,884-$49,493 with 10-20 years of experience. Guards possessing 20 years of experience or more made $23,805-$96,958.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that security guards were expected to see about average employment growth, at about 5% from 2014 to 2024. The BLS attributes its growth projection to a rising demand for security along with the need of replacing workers who leave this occupation.

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