Armed Bodyguard Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about an armed bodyguard's salary, licensure requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming an armed bodyguard.
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Pros and Cons of an Armed Bodyguard Career

Armed bodyguards protect people and property, and they generally only need a high school degree to enter the field. Read more about the pros and cons of becoming an armed bodyguard and find out if it's the right career move for you.

Pros of Being an Armed Bodyguard
Only a high school degree is required to enter the profession*
Armed bodyguards generally earn more than unarmed guards and have more advancement opportunities*
Get to work in the field*
Job usually offers a degree of leadership**

Cons of Being an Armed Bodyguard
Relatively high rate of fatality on the job (7.4 deaths per 100,000 security guards vs. 3.5 per 100,000 for all professions as of 2009)*
Higher-than-average rate of violence and assaults (in 2009, about 15% of security guard workplace injuries were caused by violence vs. only 5% for all professions)*
Low average salary of $24,070*
May need to work long, rotating shifts*

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET Online.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Armed bodyguards can work in a variety of settings, and their job is to protect and enforce laws. Duties may include monitoring alarms and television cameras and conducting routine security checks. You might patrol a particular area or have a stationary position; either way, you'll likely remain on your feet during a shift. You might also specialize in protecting particular celebrities or high-profile individuals in public settings. Since security personnel need to be present around the clock, armed bodyguards typically work rotating shifts of eight or more hours. While specific duties and environments can range considerably, it's worth knowing that security guards experience a much higher-than-average rate of fatality and injury in the workplace when compared to other professions.

Salary Info and Career Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), security guards earned a mean annual wage of around $24,070 in May 2013. The highest concentration of jobs were found in D.C., Nevada and Hawaii.

Employment is expected to grow about as fast as average from 2012-2022, at 12%, adding about 130,200 new jobs during that time, according to the BLS. Continued concerns about terrorism and a variety of other crimes should maintain the need for security. If you have some background in law enforcement and are adept with computers and technology, you might stand out in the job market.

What Are the Requirements?

To become an armed bodyguard, you'll likely need to have at least a high school diploma or GED, and you'll need to be licensed in many states. While some employers may require some postsecondary education, you'll likely receive on-the-job training before you start. Screening and training is generally more rigorous for armed guards than non-armed guards.

Licenses and Permits

Most states require security guards to be licensed. To be licensed as a guard, you usually need to pass a background check and complete classroom training and drug testing. The same process usually occurs when applying for a firearms permit, which may be a separate document from the license. Refresher training will likely be required to maintain your licensure. Individuals who are licensed are commonly referred to as having a 'guard card' for their particular state.

General skills that are useful for an armed bodyguard include:

  • Communication abilities
  • Honesty and ethics
  • Physical strength and stamina

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most employers advertised for armed security guards or officers with at least a few years of experience. Many specified that candidates should already have necessary firearm permits and a state guard card. Most positions require completion of a drug test, background check and other similar evaluations. Below are real jobs that were available in May 2012:

  • A security contracting firm advertised for an armed special police officer in the Washington, D.C. area. Pay is listed at around $22 per hour. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 21 and able to maintain a particular level of physical fitness. They should also have at least two years of experience as an armed security officer in the last ten years. Those with an existing SPO license are preferred.
  • A security services company posted for part-time and full-time armed security officers to work in high-end retail in San Francisco. Candidates should have a California guard card and firearms permit. They should also have at least two years of verifiable work history and be willing to participate in a drug test and background check. Pay is listed at $13-15 per hour.
  • A California cosmetics company is seeking a security guard to work the graveyard shift at their corporate headquarters. Pay is $13 per hour and uniforms and firearms will be provided by the employer. Candidates must currently reside in southern California and have a state guard card and firearms permit, in addition to three years of experience.
  • A government contract company is looking for armed security officers for a location in Maryland. Candidates need to be able to obtain a secret clearance, with preference given to those who currently hold or recently have held a clearance. The job involves protecting a Navy base through a variety of tasks, including inspecting vehicles and buildings and patrolling grounds. Candidates will need to pass visual, auditory, medical, psychological and physical fitness exams, meeting standards defined by the Department of Defense.

How Can I Stand out?

Get Certified

While licensure is generally required of all security guards, certification is an additional optional endorsement that could give you an advantage in the job market. If you have multiple years of security experience and meet specific education requirements, you could become certified as a Physical Security Professional or Certified Protection Professional through ASIS International. Certifications involve completing a standardized exam.

Other Fields to Consider

If you like the idea of working in security, but prefer to work in one location, consider becoming a correctional officer at a jail facility. As a correctional officer, you help maintain safety and order within a prison institution and it's worth knowing that your work can be physically dangerous. You only need a high school diploma and professionals earned an average of about $43,000 in May 2011, according to the BLS. Employment growth was expected to be slower than average, at five percent from 2010-2020.

For a job that involves investigating and researching, you could become a private detective or investigator. The job involves finding facts and analyzing information, and in some states, you could also be licensed to provide services as an armed bodyguard. You'll likely need a license to work as a private investigator, and while there are no particular education requirements for the profession, most detectives and investigators have completed at least some college. According to the BLS, employment is expected to grow 21% from 2010-2020, and the average annual salary was about $49,000 in May 2011.

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Purdue University Global

  • Master: Criminal Justice
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Regent University

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  • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security

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Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

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Colorado Christian University

  • Criminal Justice, M.S.
  • Criminal Justice, B.S.
  • Criminal Justice, A.S.

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Homeland Security
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice

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