9 Skills Every Security Guard Needs

Discover the essential skills required for success as a security guard, plus guidance on how to get started in the industry.

Security guards have an important job: protecting people, places, and property from danger, injury, damage, and other threats. But what sounds like a simple, straightforward job description is a varied collection of skills expertly deployed by trained professionals. Here are nine skills every security guard needs.

1. Observational

Can you notice details in your environment by using all your senses so you can constantly stay aware of what’s happening, if anything unusual happens, and who or what might pose a danger? Having strong observational skills is crucial for security guards as it enables them to detect potential security threats or safety hazards quickly. Observation relies on a guard's ability to be present and attentive, scanning their surroundings actively and recognizing subtle changes, such as an unfamiliar individual loitering near an entrance or a package left unattended.

2. Surveillance

Like observational skills, surveillance skills include coordinating a methodical process of watching and monitoring a situation over an extended period. This typically involves using security technology like cameras, microphones, motion detectors, and two-way radios. While observation is about noticing details at the moment, surveillance is about tracking these details over time to identify patterns or behaviors that may indicate a security risk. Surveillance can be both obvious and hidden, depending on the situation. It requires a skill set that includes understanding how to operate and interpret the data from various monitoring technologies and accurately document and report findings.

3. Communication & Interpersonal

Are you good at talking to people and even better at listening? Security guards must communicate clearly and effectively with various people they will encounter in their daily duties. They could be explaining safety procedures, giving directions, or having a friendly chat. Good communication also means writing clear, detailed reports that others can easily understand. Picking up on essential details and asking the proper questions are crucial aspects, too. Interpersonal skills are the tools you use to get along and talk with others. It's about listening well, sharing your thoughts clearly, and empathizing. It's like playing a team sport where you need to work with your teammates smoothly, know when to pass the ball, and how to celebrate together when you score. They’re essential when working in teams, dealing with the public, or coordinating with emergency responders. These skills help maintain a positive and professional environment, ensuring everyone feels safe and respected.

4. Problem-Solving

Security guards often face situations where they need to think independently. Problem-solving is all about finding quick and practical solutions to issues as they arise, whether it’s a locked-out tenant, a malfunctioning security gate, or a suspicious package. It’s also about anticipating problems before they happen and taking steps to prevent them. This requires creativity, logic, and a deep understanding of the establishment’s security procedures.

5. Conflict Resolution

Security guards' many interventions are less about protecting and more about mediating conflicts and resolving disagreements, diffusing tension, and keeping upset customers or other individuals from getting angrier or causing more disruption. Often, this means helping the disruptive individual leave the premises with as little hassle as possible. This takes keen negotiating skills and maintaining an authoritative presence without inflaming tempers or being perceived as threatening.

6. Quick Decision-Making

If you’re the first to react, that’s only half the battle. You need to be quick and correct in analyzing the situation and plan of action. Security guards need to be able to assess various possible outcomes quickly, pivot their response as new developments arise, and make judgment calls that minimize danger to people and property. Training and experience are the best ways to build this skill since they develop the habitual and instinctual wisdom that powers lightning-quick reactions.

7. Emergency Response

What will you do when there’s a fire, intruder, or injury on the premises? Responding properly in emergency situations is a core skill of security guards and one of the most important elements of keeping the public protected. Security guards undergo CPR training in addition to other life-saving instruction that help them not only give first aid but recognize when to call in for police, paramedic, firefighter, or other emergency support services. When those responders arrive, security guards will be their main point of contact and take responsibility for securing the scene while the emergency is handled.

8. Access Control and Crowd Management

When most people think of a security guard, they picture someone posted at the entrance of an establishment monitoring who’s coming in and going out. They’re also commonly seen controlling the flow of large crowds, such as at sporting events, concerts, or hospitals. Access control and crowd management skills require operational knowledge of the establishment, such as the location of emergency exits and other navigational features, so guests can safely move around the property. Guards must also be able to quickly evaluate the people around them for any dangerous activity and take appropriate action without startling the crowd.

9. Technology and Equipment Operation

From your standard walkie-talkie to advanced surveillance equipment, security guards deploy a wide range of high-tech tools to perform their jobs optimally. While specialized programs and equipment require training to learn and master, general tech-savviness and familiarity with communication devices and computers help aspiring security guards get up and running as soon as possible. If you have an affinity for technology, you can earn specialized certifications to give you access to even more innovative tools and unlock advanced career opportunities.

Developing Your Skill Set

Want to stay current and advance in your career? Commit to pursuing ongoing training and development opportunities that refresh your skills. This ensures you stay up to speed with the latest safety protocols, technological advancements, and legal regulations. For example, participating in advanced first-aid training can dramatically improve your effectiveness and sensitivity in emergency situations, while cybersecurity courses can prepare guards to tackle modern digital threats.

Continuous education enhances a guard's skill set and opens up career advancement and specialization opportunities, such as becoming an expert in cybersecurity or executive protection.

Putting Your Skills to Work

With these essential security guard skills in your toolbelt, you will succeed in the profession. Explore more industry insights and aspirational resources, including online security guard training courses, with Ontario Security License.

Quinn Smith ·

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