Security guards patrol and protect. They protect company assets and safeguard the lives of both workers and the public. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,076,600 individuals employed as security guards in 2008. That number is expected to grow by 14 percent by 2018, or by an estimated 152,500 new jobs. The pay for security guards varies based on experience and the employer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average pay for security guards nationwide was $26,430 annually, or $12.70 per hour, as of May 2009. The median pay was $23,820 in annual salary or $11.45 per hour. According to the bureau, security guards in the 25th to 75th percentile of those surveyed made pay ranging from $19,460 to $30,580, with the highest paid 10 percent of guards in the field making more than $40,230 per year, or $19.34 per hour.
Pay by Industry
Pay for security guards is affected somewhat by the industry in which they work. Of the 1,028,830 guards employed in 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 598,790 of them worked for various investigative and security services. These guards made an average annual salary of $24,450 per year, as of May 2009. By comparison, the 320 security guards working for natural gas distribution companies, while small in number, made a salary more than double than those working in investigative and security services, at an average salary of $64,610 per year. Other notable high-paying industries in which guards worked were computer systems design and related services, which paid an average of $46,560, and the electric power industry, where security guard pay averaged $44,850 a year.
Experience can also be an indicator of the reason for differences in pay among security guards. The salary tracking website PayScale breaks down security guard pay by the number of years of experience. Guards with less than one year of experience made a range of pay from about $8.70 to 11.09 per hour, as of April 2011. On the other end of the spectrum, guards with 20 or more years of experience made an average range of pay from $9.92 to $15.05 per hour. PayScale salary ranges are from the 25th to the 75th percentile of survey respondents.
Location also seems to have some effect on security guard pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for security guards was highest in Alaska at $37,030 per year, as of 2009. Guards in the District of Columbia and in the state of Washington pulled in the next highest salaries, at $37,010 and $35,420 per year, respectively. Guards in Vermont made an average salary of $30,840, while those in Maryland rounded out the top five highest-paying states at $30,320 per year. By comparison, states with larger number of guards paid less. For example, security guards in Florida averaged $23,000 per year, while those in New York made an average of $28,280, according to the bureau.