Security guards and officers are responsible for patrolling and guarding property to prevent damage, crime and other illegal activity. These workers can be either armed or unarmed depending on the job and the employer, and many states require training and even licensing before guards can carry weapons. Security guard salaries differ significantly based on a range of factors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,028,830 security guards were working in 2009, earning an average wage of $12.70 per hour or $26,430 per year. The lowest 10 percent of security guards made about $8.10 per hour or $16,840 per year, while those in the highest 10 percent of earners made an average of $19.34 per hour or $40,230 per year. The middle 50 percent of earners made an average of $11.45 per hour or $23,820 per year.
Most Common Industries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the investigation and security services sector employed the highest number of security guards in 2009. The estimated 598,790 workers in this industry had an average hourly wage of $11.76 per hour or $24,450 per year. The second-most common industry employing security guards was "local government," employing a much smaller number of guards at 38,730. These workers, however, made a much higher average salary, earning about $15.56 per hour or $32,370 per yaer.
Guards employed in the natural gas distribution sector earned the highest average salary out of any industry in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers made an average of $31.06 per hour or $64,610 per year, more than twice the national average. Guards employed in the computer systems design and related services sector had the next-highest average salaries, earning about $22.39 an hour or $46,560 a year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the five states with the highest average security guard salaries in 2009 were: Alaska, the District of Columbia, Washington, Vermont and Maryland. Guards in Alaska made an average wage of $17.80 an hour or $37,030 per year, while those in Maryland made about $14.58 an hour or $30,320 per year. Security guards in the Kenewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, metropolitan area had the highest average salary for any city, making an average of $22.63 per hour, or $47,080 per year.