How to Become a Security Officer?

Are you thinking of becoming a Security Officer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Security Officer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Security Officer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Security Officer

If you're observant and you can handle emergencies, consider a career as a security officer. To become a security officer, follow these steps:

Get certified and licensed at your local police station or city hall.

In most states, certification or licensing is required for security guards. The local sheriff's office, city hall, or the police station often administers exams and issues licenses. Many states also require 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training for security officers. Most security companies will take care of the training and licensing process for you for a small fee and a bit of paperwork. You'll learn how to write incident reports, how to perform first aid, and how to interact with people and de-escalate situations when needed.

If you want to operate as an armed security guard, you should also attend a firearm safety course and get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if you don't plan to conceal your weapon, having the permit shows potential employers that you've passed a criminal background check and you're familiar with gun safety.

You don't have to have a firearm to get a job as a security officer, but those who do get higher pay than those who do not. Depending on your state, you may need to get a minimum number of hours of continued firearm training per year. Any reputable gun range can supply official continuing training certifications in states where they're required.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Security Officer?

44% of people working as a Security Officer earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Security Officer?

  • Excellent Communication
  • Computer Literate
  • Written Communication
  • CPR First Aid
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • English Language
  • Attention To Detail
  • Report Writing
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Security Officer in the United States.

Get some additional training in areas such as defensive martial arts.

Many additional certifications are available for security officers. You can learn various defensive martial arts, advanced VIP security strategies, or advanced firearms techniques. The more impressive you make your security resume look, the more you'll stand out from other applicants. If you plan to be a security officer at a company where you'll have access to a vehicle, consider taking a defensive driving course or getting a security-related driving certification.


Buy protective gear.

Although they often wear company-issued uniforms, many security guards bring their own weapons and protective gear to the job. If you plan on working as a security officer in a particularly dangerous area, consider purchasing a bulletproof vest. Bulletproof backpacks and clipboards are available as well.

Even if you have a gun, carrying a non-lethal self-defense tool can provide you with more options. Pepper spray, a bean bag gun, a taser, a baton, a heavy flashlight, or even a guard dog can be used in self-defense. You won't want to jump straight to lethal force when things get chaotic, so take advantage of these tools.

If you decide to get a guard dog, consider adopting one from a shelter rather than going through a breeder. Dogs from many security-capable breeds are in need of a loving home, and your new partner can give you some company while you make your rounds.

Security Officer Career Path

Security Officer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$35K - $50K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Security Officer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$52K - $88K /yrMost Likely Range
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Lead Security Officer

5 - 7Years of Experience
$38K - $56K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Security Officer Career Path

Summer Security Officer
Security Officer
Assistant Manager of Security
Senior Security Officer
Security Officer Manager
Lead Security Officer
Director of Security
Chief Security Officer
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Related Careers in the Military & Protective Services Industry

Interested in other Military & Protective Services careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Security Officer skills. Discover some of the most common Security Officer career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Police Officer
25% skills overlap
9% transitioned to Police Officer