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Working as a Security Guard [NOC 6541]

Job Description

Security guards protect buildings and areas from theft, fire, vandalism, and illegal entry. Specific duties depend on where you work.

As a security guard you may do the following:

  • control access to establishments
  • operate security control-room equipment
  • patrol assigned areas to guard against theft, vandalism and fire
  • maintain order and resolve conflicts
  • ensure safety and emergency procedures are followed
  • issue passes and direct visitors to appropriate areas
  • check age identification of patrons
  • perform security checks of passengers and luggage at airports

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile 6541Career Cruising (Profile for Security Guard)

Industry Overview

There is currently a shortage of security guards in BC. Many new graduates quickly move to higher paying jobs outside of the industry, so job opportunities are regularly available.

If you have previous experience working as a security guard, in law enforcement, or in the armed forces you will have greater employment prospects. Experience using closed circuit camera monitoring equipment and software also increases your chance of employment.

There is a growing demand for guards with advanced security solutions training and threat/risk assessment skills.

Most jobs are found in large urban centres such as the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island regions. There may be higher growth in any port area of BC due to changes to the Marine Security Act by Transport Canada.

Job Outlook in BC

Security Guards and Related Occupations, NOC 6541

job outlook for security guards and related occupations

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC 2007-2017 provides job openings projections for Security Guards within BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
2015
Estimated Employment
Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010-2015
Vancouver Island 1,360 1,420 0.8%
Lower Mainland /Southwest 8,710 9,660 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 770 980 5.2%
Kootenay 280 270 -0.5%
Cariboo 250 300 3.6%
North Coast & Nechako 110 150 6.2%
Northeast 80 140 14.0%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working as a Security Guard in BC from:

Types of Employers

Security guards are employed by security agencies or directly by businesses, governments, and various other organizations. You may work in a wide variety of establishments, including:

  • airports
  • museums or galleries
  • office buildings
  • factories
  • hotels
  • hospitals
  • retail stores, banks, and more

Salary

The average salary for Security Guards working full-time in BC is between $33,000 and $44,000 a year. Your salary depends on employer, location and experience.

If you are hired by a security agency you generally receive a lower salary and fewer benefits than if you are hired directly by businesses, government agencies, or other organizations. Guards who are certified to carry firearms often earn more than those who are not.

In addition to a salary, you may receive benefits such as paid vacation days, health and dental benefits if you work in a full-time job.

If you are employed by a government agency you may belong to a union, which means your salary rates and benefits are negotiated on your behalf by union representatives.

Job Bank Canada, Wage Report, provides hourly wages for Security Guards in BC regions:

security guard regional wage

Chart from Job Bank Canada wage reports
Sources: WorkBC and Career Cruising

Working Hours

Most security guards work full time, typically working 40 hours per week. However, many job opportunities are seasonal, so you may be employed only part of the year.

You may be required to work shifts that include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.

Source: WorkBC

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • strong observation and communication skills
  • ability to make quick decisions during emergency situations and work in stressful situations
  • comfortable working alone
  • ability to stick to procedures, routines and regulations
  • ability to act in a disciplined, honest and ethical manner
  • physically fit, good hearing and vision

Education and Experience

To work as a Security Guard in BC you require:

  • Completion of grade 12 (preferred by employers but not mandatory)
  • Licensing under the Security Services Act
  • A criminal background check
  • Completion of the Basic Security Training (BST) course with a grade of 60 percent or higher on the final exam for each course

Additional training requirements vary depending on your employer.

Source: WorkBC

Qualifications

This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

You must obtain a valid BC Security Worker Licence in order to work as a security guard in BC.

There are a number of requirements before obtaining a security worker licence including:

  • Complete Basic Security Training (BST)
  • Comply with the Security Services Act “Code of Conduct”
  • Consent to a Criminal Record check
  • Provide fingerprints and photograph
  • Supply proof of Canadian Citizenship or Landed Immigrant status
  • Be sufficiently fluent in the English language to converse with the public while carrying out duties.

For more information on licensing see:

Internationally Trained Security Guards

If you believe you have acquired the equivalent training and/or experience required from outside BC for a security guard licence, there is a process set up to demonstrate your skills.

Contact the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC) directly to have previous training or experience reviewed.

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional association publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For security guards look for these related job titles

  • bodyguard (except police)
  • bouncer
  • commissionaire
  • gate attendant – security
  • night watchman/woman

Source: NOC 6541

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of companies in the Lower Mainland or BC. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter [ie: “Security Guard”] and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides which are available in print at the Central Library or online:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for security services in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are usually required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: