Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators held about 9,500 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators were as follows:
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||55%|
|Gambling industries (except casino hotels)||20|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||6|
Security guards held about 1.1 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of security guards were as follows:
|Investigation, guard, and armored car services||60%|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||7|
|Healthcare and social assistance||6|
|Accommodation and food services||4|
Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, stores, and office buildings. Gambling surveillance officers and investigators are employed in casinos and other gaming facilities only in locations where gambling is legal.
Guards may spend considerable time on their feet patrolling buildings and grounds or may sit for long periods at a single post, such as in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community. Others may spend periods of time in a vehicle, patrolling the property and grounds.
Both security guards and gambling surveillance officers may spend much of their shift sitting at a desk or counter in a dark room, observing customers on video surveillance equipment. They may have to monitor activity on multiple screens for long periods of time without distraction.
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common. Most security guards and gambling surveillance officers work full time. Seasonal work may be available during the holidays and during the warmer summer months in some states.
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers typically require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Gambling surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security guards to be licensed by the state, especially if they carry a firearm.
Security guards typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not require formal educational credentials. Gambling surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent.
A bachelor's degree is not required to enter the occupation. However, some security guards and gambling surveillance officers study in degree fields such as security and protective service or social science.
Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards and surveillance officers, the amount of training varies. Most security guards learn their job in a few weeks, but gambling surveillance officers and investigators may need several months. Employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, crime prevention, and proper communication.
Many states recommend that security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. Instruction may include 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.
Gambling 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
To enter the occupation, gambling surveillance officers and investigators typically need work experience in casinos or with video monitoring technology. Candidates sometimes gain video monitoring experience by working as a security guard.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most states require that security guards be licensed by the state in which they work. Although licensing 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 licensed by the appropriate government authority. Positions for armed guards have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than do those for unarmed guards. Most states require rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, for armed guards.
Some states and gaming facilities require a minimum age of 21 to work in a casino.
Some jobs may also require a driver's license.
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.
The median annual wage for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators was $35,450 in May 2021. 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 $27,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,730.
The median annual wage for security guards was $31,470 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,040.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||$75,490|
|Gambling industries (except casino hotels)||34,830|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||31,690|
In May 2021, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Educational services; state, local, and private||$38,930|
|Healthcare and social assistance||37,590|
|Accommodation and food services||30,570|
|Investigation, guard, and armored car services||30,570|
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.
Overall employment of security guards and gambling surveillance officers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2021 to 2031, slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite limited employment growth, about 155,900 openings for security guards and gambling surveillance officers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property because of concerns about crime and vandalism.
States continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, resulting in the need for gambling surveillance officers and investigators.
Advances in remote monitoring technology, such as robots and drones, to prevent cheating may limit the employment of some security guards and gambling surveillance officers and investigators.
For more information about security guards, visit
The International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America