Working as an armed security guard requires a high degree of responsibility. The guard is required to treat customers and others with respect and fairness, protect company property from vandalism, theft and violence. Armed security guards face similar risks to police officers, but have less backup to count on to support them.
Before taking on the responsibilities of being an armed security guard, they must first comply with a federally mandated training program that includes 18 hours of general guard training, 47 hours of firearms education and submitting to a thorough background check. Then, they must acquire a handgun license for their state and apply for an armed security guard license as well. Once they meet all of those standards, they must then search for a job with a company looking for security guards.
A typical armed security guard's day involves a lot of waiting around and watching property and people. Most companies will require that security guards stand at attention at all times. The standards of behavior for an armed security guard are considerably higher than those for many other types of employees, partly because of the responsibility that comes with carrying a deadly weapon.
The profession of armed security guard is actually quite risky. While police go on patrol, often in vehicles and with partners, armed security guards are often asked to work alone, alone, at night without radio communication to their compatriots. In addition, they aren't required to take combat training, and indeed, once they have passed their licensing requirements, are not required to continue to practice with firearms.
The best security guard employers are those that employ multiple security guards, have them remain in well-lit or secured positions, allow them to take breaks and cover for one another, and have close working relationships with the police force. Be wary of guard employers that isolate their guards, don't provide additional training for contacting police, or don't provide very specific and realistic rules of engagement for combat situations. Some employers offer compensation for continued firearms training - look at that as a job perk to hunt for during the search.
Many armed security guards can make more than $18 per hour at the entry level, with leadership positions offering more, and in some cases additional benefits. A security guard license may help an individual to find work as a doorman at an apartment building as well, even if they will not ask them to carry a firearm. Some armed security guards work for university campus police forces, which often offer competitive salaries with benefits and retirement packages. Some 60,000 security professionals are also members of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA). In return for union dues, members receive legal representation in disputes with management, some educational scholarships for family members, a vote in union matters and gain contacts in law enforcement and fire prevention from both the US and Canada.