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How to Become a School Security Officer

Learn about the duties of school security officers, the educational and training requirements to enter the career, as well as the salary and expected job growth down the track.

School security officers protect students, teachers, staff and visitors from harm, and ensure that future generations can safely receive their education. They help enforce safety procedures, report suspicious activities, and interact with students and staff on a daily basis. Find out more details about this career in the table below.

Degree Required High school diploma
Key Skills Communication, good judgment, observation, patience
Registration Required in many states
Job Growth (2018-2028) 4%* (for all security guards and gaming surveillance officers)
Mean Annual Wage (2018) $35,700* (at elementary/secondary schools)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do School Security Officers Do?

School security officers help to keep students and teachers safe and protect school property. They may monitor CCTV footage, patrol buildings and grounds, control access to the school, conduct security checks, and respond to emergencies. They interact with students, staff and visitors, design and enforce security procedures, and write reports on suspicious activities or security events.

School security officers may also operate metal detectors to ensure that no weapons enter the school premises, investigate violations of rules, and collaborate with faculty and the school board on improving security. Duties could also include breaking up fights between students and detaining anyone violating the rules.

What Education Do I Need to Become a School Security Officer?

Aspiring school security officers need at least a high school diploma. In addition, applicants have to pass a background check and provide fingerprints to identify any potential criminal history. Background checks for armed guards are more extensive than for non-armed guards.

Further, organizations such as the National Association of School Resource Officers offer specific courses tailored to school security officers. Subjects include working effectively with students, school law, and emergency planning. In states like California, specific training courses on how to work with and protect students are mandatory for security officers working in schools or community colleges.

For security guards who wish to take on management positions, an associate degree in a field like criminal justice could help pave the way.

Do I Need to Get Registered or Certified?

Regulations vary across the USA, but most states require security officers to be registered. In the state of Virginia, for example, all school security officers must be certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Service. To obtain certification, applicants have to complete first aid training, some entry-level training, and pass an exam. Armed guards usually have to also register with the relevant government authority.

Do I Need Additional Experience?

Beyond any mandatory training regulated by the state, school security officers tend to receive on-the-job training that typically lasts several weeks. Specific aspects and duration of the training will vary from employer to employer.

What Income and Job Growth Can I Expect?

As of May 2018, the mean annual income for security guards at elementary and secondary schools was $35,700, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile Payscale.com puts the average salary for school safety officers at $31,000 a year in 2019, giving evidence that salary can vary drastically, depending on numerous factors, possibly including location and school type. The BLS expects job growth of 4% between 2018 and 2018 for security guards in general.