Difference Between Security Guards and Security Officers

What’s the difference between a security guard and security officer?

We don’t normally think of security guards as members of society maintaining order and public safety. Security guards and security officers are trained to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations by watching and preventing risks. To do this, both security guards and security officers must have training in risk management and prevention. 

Security guards and security officers have very different responsibilities and job requirements. Today we’ll go over some of the differences in their responsibilities and job requirements. This can help you decide if you need to hire either a security guard or security officer, or if you’d like to explore these jobs as potential careers.    

What Does A Security Guard Do?

Security guards help maintain order and safety in public spaces. They’re often only sanctioned at one site such as a mall, arena, or park. You may have even noticed a particular security guard at your regular supermarket. Security officers are trained in:

  • De-escalation 
  • Conflict resolution
  • Risk management
  • Basic safety and aid
  • Client care

Security guards will remain at a particular location and make reports to a security officer on the day to day operations. Since security guards are sanctioned at one particular location, they often have more knowledge of all emergency exits, alarms, and cameras, plus additional knowledge of the property’s policies. 

Being a security guard requires a lot of communication and de-escalation skills. Security guards do not carry firearms, and cannot make arrests unless they’ve witnessed a felony. A security guard has limited power, yet still must hold enough control to:

  • Ask individuals to peacefully leave a property 
  • Ban an individual from private property
  • Make citizens arrests after witnessing a felony
  • Detain or search non-compliant individuals  

This all must be done without unnecessary force. Any force used must be in self-defense. Depending on the state and specific security company, procedures and weapons permitted can vary.         

What Does A Security Officer Do? 

Security officers generally have more responsibilities than security guards. Security officers monitor multiple sites, make reports, and give orders to fellow guards. These officers are generally leaders who oversee the daily operations and duties of their security guards. They will still patrol, monitor, and prevent public risks similarly to security guards, but security officers often give orders and make calls on behalf of the team. 

A large component of a security officer’s job also deals with customer service. Security officers are also in charge of ensuring clients are satisfied with their team’s work. Since security officers will work more closely with clients, they’re often trained on other preventative maintenance and troubleshooting issues with the property. For instance, a security officer might learn to restart a store’s security system in case of an emergency. 

Unlike a security guard, security officers also monitor multiple sites at once, and often collect reports from other on-site guards. After collecting various reports from other guards on their team, a security officer will also make a full report to their head supervisor. Because security officers have more of a leadership and management role, they generally need more experience than security guards. 

Security officers need several years of experience in guarding and monitoring. Additionally, they must also complete various training workshops dealing with arrests, bomb threats, evacuation procedures, first aid, and fire safety. Oftentimes, former cops and veterans will transition to a career as a security officer later in life. 

Responsibilities And Qualifications Of A Security Guards And Officers

Different security companies may have specific requirements. Generally, security guards must have at least a high school degree and an average level of intelligence. Upon hiring, security guards have skills in:

  • Risk management and hazard awareness
  • Techniques in de-escalation and conflict resolution 
  • Proficiency and reporting 
  • Lifting and general labor 

Security companies and agencies may not list specific distinctions, and may use the term interchangeably. This is, in part, to prevent public confusion. Additional training and skills for security officers and guards include:

  • Surveillance, objectivity, and judgment skills
  • Emotional control and integrity 
  • Dependability and professionalism 
  • Integrity in reporting 
  • Anti-terroism warning signs

What’s The Difference Between The Police And Security Officers

Police officers and other law enforcement represent and uphold local, state, and federal laws. Security guards are hired by private individuals and businesses. Rather than enforcing laws, security guards enforce policies, and respond to known risks. Security guards generally have no more authority than any other citizen, but are trained to handle dangerous situations more effectively, and can enforce policies set by private institutions.  

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