Understanding Private Security Work
Security Guard work falls into two broad categories:
A) Guarding A Specific Location
Security Guards can perform a wide variety of tasks. Some clients may only need a guard to do a few simple things throughout the course of a shift, and other clients may want a whole list of things to be done every hour. Every site and every situation is a little bit different. Have a look at this list:
With such a variety of security concerns, there are also a variety of solutions:
Duties Of An On-Site Security Guard
Some clients will provide a specific and detailed list of duties for guards, whereas other clients may trust the guards to determine how to best keep their site safe and secure. In any case, you will know what your specific duties are for any site by reading the "post orders".
B) Vehicle Patrol
Also called mobile patrol, this type of work involves doing routine security patrols at multiple locations, with some security companies offering alarm response and additional services via their patrol team. A typical shift on vehicle patrol involves driving to different properties either on a set schedule or at random intervals. The vehicle patrol team can be a point of contact for on-site guards at different locations as well, acting as shift supervisors or managers. They may also be a direct point of contact for clients outside office hours.
Specialized Security Positions
Some front-line security jobs are unique to a particular type of environment, such as:
Jobs like these involve unique scenarios and activities that apply only to those settings. These specialized roles sometimes have little in common with more general uniformed Security Guard work.
Tools Of The Trade
Here are some of the tools, equipment, and other items you may come across as a Security Guard. Of course someone sitting at the front desk of an office building won't be wearing a hard hat, and someone handing out parking tickets on a day shift won't likely need a flashlight. But in the broader scope of private security work, these are some of the items you may encounter due to the wide range of jobs and tasks that Security Guards perform.
Cell phone or 2-way radio (walkie-talkie)
Basic and essential items. Cell phones allow Security Guards to call police, clients, supervisors, or others, and are normally provided by the security company. Cell phones are likewise necessary for patrol units and supervisors so that alarm companies, clients, guards, and others can reach them anywhere at any time.
Flashlight A flashlight is a common necessity because so much guard work occurs at night. For industrial buildings without windows, a small flashlight can be handy even during the day. Your employer may provide one, but a quality flashlight is a good investment, not only for security work but for camping and home use as well. You can get a C or D size Maglite with LED bulbs for under $40, and you'll probably have it the rest of your life.
Notepad or Notebook This is a common item for Security Guards, especially supervisors. Some sites may have report sheets to fill out and some may not. In either case, it never hurts to have a notepad of your own to record things. Note taking is an important skill, and anything you write down could end up being unexpectedly valuable in the future. Security companies typically provide notebooks, but you can also buy them for a few dollars each.
Proximity device or Guard Tour system There are various types of products known as "guard tour" devices. A hand unit is touched or waved in front of an electronic tag, and this records the time a checkpoint was patrolled. Tags are placed by doors and other important areas that are checked during patrols. Each tag is individually identified by computer software and detailed reports prove to clients that patrols were done correctly and on time.
Steel-toed boots or shoes Simple black steel-toed boots or shoes are standard for most security companies. This allows a Security Guard to work in any environment or workplace, in compliance with any sort of Health & Safety policy. Boots are often preferable to shoes (tip: get ones with protective toe caps). Shoes provide very little comfort in wet, cold, dirty, muddy, slippery environments. Also, shoes leave your ankles exposed and susceptible to injuries and insect bites. But it really depends on your post and the footwear policy of the premises. If you have full-time work in an office building, then shoes may be allowed.
Duty belt Duty belts aren't always required, but help finish the look of a professional guard uniform. They are also far more durable than other belts for carrying flashlights, radios, or anything with a clip or holster. They help support good posture as well. A simple black belt may be suitable in some situations, but heat, cold, moisture, and wear can quickly cause one to rip or break. A duty belt will end up costing you less over time than replacing standard belts as they wear out.
Hard hat Construction sites normally require hard hats, but there are many other workplaces where Health & Safety policies require they be worn as well. Industrial facilities, overhead storage areas, even parts of a retail store or mall under renovation may require a hard hat. Security companies most often have their own hard hats with their logo and "Security" on them. Since many people may use the same hard hats, you might want a hair net or something to wear underneath.
Safety vest Security Guards must follow the same rules as other workers at construction sites, commercial properties, and other places. Safety vests are common. Security companies generally have their own safety vests with their crest on the front and "Security" on the back.
Safety glasses Safety glasses are another common item found in places like construction sites and manufacturing plants. Either the guard company or the client will provide them, but you can also get your own for around $10 and not have to worry about sharing them with others and getting a pair that are dirty, scratched, etc.