Looking for a job as a contract Security Officer?

Some Helpful Tips to Aid You in Your Search for the Right Security Gig

A recent graduate of our online guard license course, we’ll call him ‘Sam’, called me this week pretty upset. Apparently, Sam answered an online jobs ad for security officer with a national security company paying $16 – $22. The company hired Sam contingent on him obtaining his Utah guard license which he did over the course of several weeks. When the time came for Sam to meet with the hiring manager to discuss job assignment, he referenced the pay range listed in the ad. Her reply was, “Our supervisors don’t even make that much…your looking at a pay rate of $10, $12 tops. Sorry”. After walking out of the office disgusted by the whole thing, he called me looking for some advice.

What Sam now knows is that there is a real advantage to having an active guard license when applying for security jobs. Over 60 security companies conduct business in Utah and most of them are hiring security officers all of the time. Their business revolves around people, and without them, they can’t provide security services to their clients. Because Sam has his guard license, he is a top candidate who can start work immediately. His chances of finding the right company, work schedule, and pay are greater for him than other, unlicensed candidates. Security companies are constantly working to recruit new security officers to fill their openings.

My advice to Sam and to all of you on the hunt for a contract security gig:

  • If you don’t have a guard license, get one first, even if it means that you have to pay for it yourself. Many companies offer sign-on bonuses to job candidates that are already licensed.
  • You need to decide beforehand:
    • What days and times you are willing to work,
    • a minimum amount of pay you are willing to accept, and
    • How far you are willing to travel (to and from) the job site
    • What work environment suits you best?
    • Busy or slow? Students might want a slow site that allows them to do homework. Others prefer to be on the move to make time pass quicker.
    • Outside or inside? Would working in harsher, winter conditions be a problem for you?
    • Do you like to be mobile (conducting frequent walking or vehicle patrols) or remain stationary (securing an entry/exit checkpoint)?
    • Dealing with no/some/a lot of people?
  • Do some intel work on the security companies that you are interested in.
    • Online reviews by current/former employees (or clients)
    • Have they been featured in the news? Was it good or bad press?
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Any public notices of company violations? Search the state license website or place a call to the licensing division.
  • Before accepting an employment offer:
    • Ask lots of questions; how many security officers stay/leave each year? What would be your specific job duties at the site? Do they charge for uniforms? Do they offer sick time or vacation? Is there mandatory overtime? Do they have direct deposit?
    • Get EVERYTHING in writing; pay rates, work schedule, bonuses, etc. Everything should be recorded on a site assignment form or employment contract. That way, should there be any problems in the future, you can refer back to the written agreement.

The more information you have as a job seeker, the better your chances of landing the right job with the right company. By no means does this article cover everything, but my hope is that it will at least provide you with some useful tips.

Are you a ‘veteran’ security officer who can offer more useful tips that you think we should share? You can email me at russ@defencifytraining.com. We would love to hear from you! Thank you and cheers!


Russell Willmon is a security expert with over a decade of consulting and managing experience in the security industry. In addition to his work with Defencify, Russ is currently the Utah Chair of ASIS International as well as the owner of The Nightwatchmen, a security consulting firm. To learn more about Russ and the rest of our team at Defencify, visit the About Us page.

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