Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce laws and protect an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Control building access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Detain violators

Guards and officers must remain alert, looking out for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards are armed.

A security guard’s responsibilities vary from one employer to another. In retail stores, guards protect people, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

In offices and factories, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Security guards work in many other environments, because they work wherever people and assets need to be protected.

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment in an observation room, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

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Work Environment

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators held about 10,500 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 55%
Casino hotels 19
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 17
State government, excluding education and hospitals                                5
Spectator sports 4

Security guards held about 1.1 million jobs in 2018. The largest employers of security guards were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services                                          59%
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Educational services; state, local, and private 5
Accommodation and food services 5
Government 4

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public spaces, stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers and investigators are employed only in locations where gambling is legal.

Most security guards spend considerable time on their feet, either at a single post or patrolling buildings and grounds. Some may sit for long periods behind a counter or in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community.

Security guards who work during the day may have a great deal of contact with other employees and the public.

Most gaming surveillance officers sit behind a desk observing customers on video surveillance equipment.

Work Schedules

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of approximately 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Education and Training

Most security guard and gaming surveillance officer jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Gaming surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent and may need experience with video surveillance technology depending upon assignment.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most security guards, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During this time, the employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive approximately 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8–16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. This may include training in protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and other specialized training related to the security guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically in the use of firearms.

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators receive training in topics such as the rules of casino games, gaming regulations, identifying cheating techniques, and the proper use of video and radio equipment.

Drug testing may be required both as a condition of employment and randomly during employment.

Work experience in a related occupation

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators may need previous work experience in surveillance or in casinos. Experience with video monitoring technology is particularly helpful, and some workers gain this experience by working as a security guard.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that security guards be registered with the state in which they work. Although registration requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

Guards who carry weapons usually must be registered by the appropriate government authority. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards. Rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, are required for armed guards in most states.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Personality and Interests

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically have an interest in the Building, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a security guard and gaming surveillance officer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Decision-making skills. Guards must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.  

Patience. Security guards may need to spend long periods standing and observing their environment without distractions.

Observation skills. Guards must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Physical strength. Guards must be strong enough to apprehend offenders and to handle emergency situations.

Pay

The median annual wage for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators was $34,190 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,700.

The median annual wage for security guards was $29,680 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,310.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $68,120
Casino hotels 36,930
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 34,710
Local government, excluding education and hospitals                                             32,050
Spectator sports 31,500

In May 2019, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $34,730
Educational services; state, local, and private 34,460
Healthcare and social assistance 34,330
Accommodation and food services 30,260
Investigation, guard, and armored car services                                                        28,470

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of approximately 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of security guards is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property because of concerns about crime and vandalism.

Employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Although states continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities are projected to be excellent, especially for security guards. The large size of the occupation and the number of workers who leave the occupation each year should result in many job openings. However, there will be more competition for higher paying positions that require more training and experience.

Candidates who have experience with video surveillance equipment should have the best job prospects in the gaming industry. Those with a background in law enforcement will also have an advantage.

For More Information

The Handbook does not have contacts for more information for this occupation.

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

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