How to Become a Security Guard Without a Degree

Becoming a security guard no longer requires a college degree or formal training. Private security personnel are increasingly in demand across industries. Job opportunities for them continue to grow rapidly. This path offers a promising career. It is for those who want to enter the field quickly without a long education.

This guide covers all you need to know. It will help you succeed as a security professional. It covers required certifications and skills training. It also covers getting first jobs. It covers advancing into specialized roles and long-term career growth.

You might supplement income with part-time security work. Or, you might pursue full-time jobs with advancement potential. Achieving your goals is doable.

Employment Outlook

  • Over 1.1 million people are employed as security guards in the United States as of 2021 (BLS)
  • The use of security guards is projected to grow 31% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all jobs (BLS).

Earnings Statistics

  • The median annual wage for security guards was $31,080 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $55,710 (BLS).
  • In 2021, the average security guard salary ranges from $25,600 for entry-level to $103,400 for high-level supervisors. (ZipRecruiter)

Industry Size and Growth

  • The security services industry in the U.S. makes about $30 billion in 2021 (IBIS World). Industry growth is expected at 2.5% yearly from 2021-2026.
  • There are over 8,000 private security firms in the United States as of 2022.

Getting Started: Basic Requirements

The requirements for education vary by state and sector. But, the basic requirements to start working in private security are the same nationwide.

Key Certifications

Most states mandate guards obtain a basic security certification demonstrating competency. Common credentials include:

  • Unarmed security license – Allows working as an unarmed guard monitoring premises. You will earn by completing an 8-40 hour training. It covers legal issues, observation skills, incident response, and report writing. The exact topics depend on your state.
  • Armed security license – Required for armed positions. Involves firearm handling and safety training. May have experience, age, and background check stipulations.
  • First aid/CPR certification – Needed for responding to medical emergencies.

You can take certification courses at community colleges, private training centers, or online. They are affordable and accessible. Certs must undergo renewal every 1-5 years through updated training.

Background Checks

Thorough criminal background checks are standard prerequisites for hiring. Potential disqualifications include:

  • Felony convictions
  • Sex offense convictions
  • Violent crimes
  • Drug trafficking offenses
  • Fraud
  • Dishonesty

Check state-specific restrictions. Minor records, like youth offenses and nonviolent misdemeanors, may still allow certification. It depends on how recent and severe they were.

Physical Fitness

Elite strength isn’t essential. But, being fit lets you handle confrontations and control combative people. You can also chase suspects on foot if needed and stay alert on long shifts. Train standard skills like:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular strength and endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination and agility

Maintaining fitness preserves field readiness while also projecting professionalism.

Position Types: Industry Options

Security personnel fulfill in-demand roles across diverse industries. Selecting optimal opening opportunities depends on individual interests and qualifications.

How to apply for security with no experience
How to apply for security with no experience

Corporate Security

Corporate security protects office buildings and businesses. It safeguards employees, assets, and ideas. Duties include:

  • Monitoring surveillance systems
  • Performing access control screening procedures for employees and visitors
  • Conducting regular patrols checking building perimeter security
  • Investigating suspicious activity
  • Detaining criminal perpetrators

Related roles like loss prevention officers prevent retail fraud and theft. Corporate security offers steady hours with low public risk.

Event Security

Provide crowd management, guest safety protocols, and VIP protection at:

  • Concerts
  • Sporting events
  • Festivals
  • Convention centers

The duties might involve barricade control. They might also involve dealing with unruly guests. They might involve escorting performers. And, they involve working with medical teams and law enforcement. Enjoy dynamic environments with this exciting role.

Residential Community Security

HOAs and luxury residential developments retain on-site security for amenities like:

  • Gated access enforcement
  • Patrolling community grounds
  • Alarm response
  • Noise complaint intervention

Family-oriented communities offer stable daytime shifts. Some positions allow dual maintenance duties. Free or subsidized housing incentives are common.

Executive Protection

Provide elite bodyguard services shielding high-profile clients like:

  • Celebrities
  • Business leaders
  • Political dignitaries
  • Wealthy individuals

The job involves lots of travel abroad. You’ll coordinate event security and monitor residence safety. You’ll also provide secure transportation. You’ll use techniques from special forces or law enforcement veterans. Requires proven experience and specialized training. Lucrative career potential protects high-risk clients.

Compare the pros and cons of all industry options. Do this to find the best fit for your skills, interests, and goals as you pursue openings.

Building In-Demand Security Skill Sets

Competitive applicants demonstrate advanced capabilities. These go beyond basic certifications and fit the demands of specialty positions.

Observation and Reporting

Accurately conveying seen activities through writing and speech makes officers indispensable. It helps in effectively combating risks. Refine skills like:

Incident report writing – Record events comprehensively. This includes descriptions, actions taken, offender details, and testimony from victims and witnesses.

Public speaking – Address crowds with authority during emergencies. Or, make statements to police when they respond to calls.

Situational Interpretation

Sharpen split-second decision-making by studying behavioral analysis principles. Identify:

  • Suspicious body language
  • Deceptive speech patterns
  • Odd behavioral inconsistencies

Combine intuition with rational observation when handling high-stress scenarios.

Tech Proficiencies

Monitor emerging threats using:

  • Remote surveillance camera networks with facial recognition capabilities
  • Data analytics uncovering criminal activity online
  • Social media tracking

Cyber-savvy officers provide immense employer value in safeguarding digital infrastructure.

Emergency Response

Coordinate crisis response until police arrive. This is for violence, injuries, natural disasters, or terror incidents. Prep through:

  • First aid certification
  • Understanding National Incident Management System (NIMS) protocols
  • Studying past security emergency response case studies

These capabilities demonstrate disciplined initiative keeping stakeholders safe when seconds count.

Pursuing professional enrichment beyond obligatory credentials boosts desirability dramatically.

Finding Your First Security Job

Once certified and trained, utilize these techniques to connect with prospective employers:

Online Job Boards

Top resources listing updated openings include:

  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder
  • Glassdoor

Search locally and nationally. Use filters for things like position type, experience level, and pay.

Direct Employer Sourcing

Over 8,000 private security firms operate nationwide. Look for research companies that specialize in your area. They should also specialize in areas like corporate security. They should also cover event security and residential patrol.

Directly contact talent managers expressing interest and qualifications. Tailor resumes and cover letters addressing their specialized security needs.

This proactive approach builds relationships. It does so with smaller boutique agencies. They lack large recruiting budgets to advertise positions.

Security Industry Career Fairs

Attend local career fairs hosted by ASIS International chapters and industry trade organizations. These facilitate networking opportunities while companies conduct interviews and hiring on location.

Prepare professional resume copies listing applicable certifications and training when exhibiting interest. Dress for success and research participating employers beforehand.

In-person meetings make lasting positive impressions. Maintain follow-up contact after events.

With personalized, multifaceted networking, the vast security sector job possibilities become readily accessible. Remain persistent and personable.

Career Advancement and Long-Term Outlook

Beyond entry-level jobs, there are many opportunities for advancement. With experience, each security domain develops specialized career branches. Paths to leadership emerge in all of them.

Expanding Role Options

Pursue additional responsibilities improving communities like:

  • Emergency dispatcher – Manage high-stress 911 response coordination for maximum effectiveness.
  • Security consultant – Conduct vulnerability assessments for clients constructing crisis response plans and preventing threats.
  • Security sales – Save businesses and homeowners money by showing how upgraded systems and process efficiencies heighten protection.
  • Security trainer/instructor – Share invaluable skills with next-generation officers through leading certification courses.
  • Private investigator – Conduct in-depth investigations uncovering the truth in insurance fraud cases, suspicious deaths, infidelity cases, and more.

Specialized security skills open diverse career directions.

Management Advancement

Experienced officers are ready for supervisory and managerial positions. They will direct facility operations, oversee events, and develop security strategy. Rewards include:

  • Senior titles like Director, Supervisor, and Manager command respect
  • Six-figure salaries with performance incentives and excellent benefits
  • Greater schedule flexibility delegating hands-on work

Demonstrate leadership potential driving promotions up the ranks. Developing managers is smart succession planning for employers.

Entrepreneurship Dreams

Established professionals aspire toward founding their agencies allowing full autonomy. Successfully build enterprises focused on:

  • Loss prevention solutions
  • Protective services
  • Investigations
  • Emerging cyber security demands

Owning firms enables directing company culture. It lets firms control services and earn unlimited money, all while making a difference.

No matter the goals, strategic career maps, and diverse skills pave the way to thrive in security. Strong professional relationships are also key. This is true without needing college.

Essential Advice for Succeeding as a Security Professional

Veterans emphasize universal principles for excelling on duty and off while enjoying longevity:

Uphold Impeccable Integrity

Your responsibilities involve protecting lives, sensitive data, and infrastructure. Earning universal trust requires a spotless reputation. You build it with honesty, discretion, and ethical action under pressure. Avoid gossip or inappropriate relationships compromising trustworthiness. Remain above reproach.

Maintain Situational Alertness

Complacency breeds disaster in security roles. Whether directing crowds or monitoring surveillance feeds, keep razor-sharp awareness. Recognize subtle disturbances signaling threats. Prepare for many emergency scenarios. Stay alert during whole shifts and minimize distractions.

Communicate Clearly and Compassionately

Security interactions often involve confronting problematic behaviors among frustrated, distressed individuals. Resolve tense encounters with “words as your weapons.” First, use patient de-escalation. Only use force when needed. Choose language defusing situations. Your presence should inspire order and safety, not incite greater unrest.

Keep an Open, Adaptable Mind

Learn modern techniques and tools. They allow you to stop evolving risks. These risks include cyber hacking, social engineering, and terror attacks. But also study successful historical case studies across eras masking universal human motivations. Combine old wisdom with new skills. It gives strategic insights that advances alone don’t offer.

These universal principles elevate all successful security careers maximizing positive community impact.

Addressing Common Concerns: FAQs for Aspiring Security Guards

Despite projection growth, some hesitations commonly deter prospective security candidates. Here are answers to dispelling misconceptions:

Are jobs stable for guards or high turnover roles?

Security represents an increasingly essential, recession-proof industry. As long as humanity faces risks from crime, disasters, and conflict, demand persists. Choose specialties. Examples include cyber security, executive protection, and emergency management. They offer the most stability. Government security contracts and long-term clients breed consistency. Develop specialty expertise making you irreplaceable.

Is earning potential limited without a college degree?

Advancement in management often requires bachelor’s degrees. But, elite officers can still earn six figures. Some high-paying niches include cybersecurity consulting, private investigations, and executive protection. They serve ultra-wealthy individuals and celebrities. These clients pay top salaries for discretion and risk prevention. Being well-trained and personable matters more than academic credentials alone to clients.

Do I need a police or military background?

Not necessarily. Experience is valuable. But, being an upstanding citizen with advanced certifications qualifies for entry too. Some firms prefer training candidates themselves over ingrained habits from other agencies. Highlight your unique assets. These include different jobs, specific technical skills, or fluency in a foreign language. These assets cater to local demographics. Play to strengths.

Won’t robots and AI make human guards obsolete?

Smart surveillance systems improve. But, people are still crucial. They must interpret nuances that technology can’t reliably register. This is true across diverse situations. Furthermore, communities desire a “friendly face” to build public trust. Focus on abilities that artificial intelligence lacks. These include conflict resolution, emergency response leadership, and investigating crimes. This makes you perpetually relevant maximizing opportunities.

Don’t let questions stop you from a new purpose. It preserves safety through an accessible, fast-growing field with lots of upward mobility. Realize your boldest potential without limitations or delays now.


You can have a rewarding security career without higher education. This is possible through earning certifications, building specialized skills, and networking persistently. Position yourself for in-demand jobs. Do this by studying industry needs and honing your strengths. Then, uphold impeccable integrity once on the job. The paths to advancement only get broader. This happens as you build experience across this diverse, promising sector.

Hi everyone, I'm Shahzad Arsi, the friendly founder of Circular Guru. I started this website to share in-depth information on “How to Become Someone Without a College Degree,” your number one resource for exploring alternative career paths. Our motto is to change the mentality “No degree = No opportunity”.

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