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Security guard opportunities are growing in the UK. See if you have what it takes for a career in security using our guide, which covers the various roles available, the experience, skills and attributes required, and salary expectations.

What is a security guard? 

Security guards play a vital role in safeguarding people, property, and assets. They are often employed in a wide range of settings such as banks, shops, office buildings, and events venues to ensure safety and security measures are upheld. 

The ideal candidate for a security guard position should possess several key traits. Firstly, they should exhibit strong integrity and honesty, as they are trusted to protect valuable assets and maintain confidentiality. Additionally, excellent observational skills are crucial for effectively identifying potential security risks and suspicious activities. Good communication skills are also essential for interacting with colleagues, clients, and the public professionally and effectively. 

Physical fitness and the ability to remain calm under pressure are also vital attributes, as security guards may need to respond swiftly and decisively to emergencies or confrontational situations. Furthermore, attention to detail and adherence to protocols and procedures are paramount for ensuring thorough security measures are consistently implemented. 

Overall, individuals who demonstrate reliability, integrity, strong observational skills, effective communication, physical fitness, and the ability to remain composed under pressure are well-suited for the role of a security guard. 

Types of security guard 

Security guard roles can vary depending on the specific requirements of the job or location, but some common types include: 

Static security guards: stationary guards who monitor and protect a specific location, such as stores, office buildings, or construction sites. 

Mobile patrol guards: security personnel who patrol an area, often in a vehicle, to provide surveillance and respond to incidents across different locations. 

Retail security guards: guards specifically trained to work in retail environments, focusing on preventing theft, managing crowds, and ensuring the safety of customers and employees. 

Event security guards: guards hired to provide security at events such as concerts, festivals, conferences, and sports events, ensuring crowd control and managing potential security threats. 

Close protection officers/bodyguards: trained professionals who provide personal security and protection to individuals, including VIPs, celebrities, executives, and high-profile personalities. 

Corporate security guards: guards employed by businesses to protect company assets, employees, and facilities, including office buildings, warehouses, and corporate events. 

Door supervisors (bouncers): security personnel stationed at entrances of bars, clubs, and other venues to ensure the safety of patrons, enforce entry policies, and manage any disturbances. 

These roles may overlap in some aspects and security companies may offer specialised training depending on the specific requirements of the job. 

What do you need to become a security guard? 

To become a security guard, you typically need to prove you are of good character and integrity, alongside having a reasonable level of fitness, strong communication and observation skills, a calm nature, and ideally experience in a related field.  

In terms of qualifications, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is responsible for regulating the UK private security industry. Undergoing SIA training is necessary in order to obtain a licence. 

Depending on the role or employer requirements when hiring for security guard roles, they may be required to undergo training in first aid, fire safety, and conflict resolution. You can also visit Reed Courses for a number of CPD-certified security guard courses

Security guard role and responsibilities 

The typical working hours of a security guard in the UK can vary depending on the employer and specific job requirements, but often include shifts covering evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Responsibilities and duties may include: 

  • Patrolling assigned areas to prevent and detect signs of intrusion, vandalism, or other security breaches. 

  • Monitoring surveillance equipment and alarms. 

  • Controlling access points and verifying credentials of individuals entering the premises. 

  • Responding to emergencies and alarms, such as fire or medical incidents. 

  • Writing reports detailing observations and incidents that occur during shifts. 

  • Liaising with law enforcement and emergency services when necessary. 

  • Providing customer service and assistance to employees, visitors, and customers. 

In 2024, average security guard salaries are £26,300 in London; £22,800 in the north east; and £22,300 in Northern Ireland. The cost of living is sadly driving greater numbers of people into shoplifting, creating more opportunities for security workers in stores and other premises as well as at events. Recent data from Get Licensed reveals the top 10 UK areas most in need of security guards.  

Melissa Russ, Soft Services Expert at Reed, said: “For jobseekers, there are plenty of opportunities in soft services. Positions in security management and reception services are not just about routine tasks; they increasingly demand problem-solving skills, adaptability, and a customer-centric mindset.” 

Download our comprehensive facilities salary guide 2024 to discover more regional salaries. 

Security guard career prospects 

The career prospects for security guards can vary depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, and the specific sector they work in. Generally, there is a steady demand for security guards across various industries, including retail, hospitality, transportation, and event management. 

In terms of regions with more prevalent job opportunities, larger cities and urban areas tend to have higher demand for security personnel due to higher population densities and more businesses needing security services. Cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow, often have more job opportunities for security guards compared to rural areas. However, job availability can also be influenced by local economic factors and specific industry needs. 

For help with finding your next job in security, contact our specialist recruitment team, whose knowledge of the industry can help you find the right role. 

Looking to benchmark security guard salaries, or wondering what you could, or should, be earning in your current or next role? Download our free facilities salary guide 2024 for detailed insight into both salaries and benefits for a host of roles in the sector.