Different Types of Security Guards

Discover the different types of security guards, how their roles differ, and which require specialized training.

To be a security guard can mean many different things. You could be protecting a high-profile individual, guarding bank deposits, checking kids into school, or monitoring surveillance cameras. Some security guards who work for security agencies might be deployed to any one of those example situations and others.

Many security guards go into their career with a specific job in mind. Others find their preference during training. With so many crossover skills, plenty of guards spend time in multiple scenarios throughout their careers.

Getting to know the different types of security guards will help guide your training and job search. Understanding the unique roles and environments of each type is a great way to imagine yourself in that job to see if that’s the type of security guard you want to be.

Let’s go over some of the top security guard specialties based on the Canadian job market, as well as some less common but still relevant, interesting, and exciting options you might not expect.

Armed Guards

Armed security officers carry weapons to enhance safety and response capabilities in high-risk situations. They require extensive firearms training, certification, and knowledge in the safe handling of various defensive tools. If the patrons they deal with are known to have their own weapons or are otherwise dangerous, criminal, or potentially so, armed guards need to be able to use their firearms to protect themselves, deter malicious individuals, and defend their territory.

Armed security officers must abide by all civilian laws, so they need extra training to know when to actually discharge their weapons. It might not always be bad guys, either — imagine what a wildlife enforcement or recreation area security guard might need to draw a weapon on a bear or a mountain lion.

Other armed guards might work for/as: ● Casinos ● Nuclear and other power plants ● Private residences or businesses ● Government contractors ● Bodyguards ● Banks ● Armored car services

Armoured car guards are responsible for keeping cash and other valuables secure in armoured trucks that carry bank deposits and money from other businesses. They’re similar to bank guards, except bank guards work on-site. These guards often work together and have collaborative protocols to ensure proper and secure cash handoffs. It’s obvious why they might have a weapon — dangerous thieves target cash.

Other situations typically revolve around things that attract those kinds of thieves — casinos being another example —, but some are all about safety. VIP protection and power plant security, for instance, could protect individuals and the public from violence or a terrorist attack.

In other instances, an armed guard is primarily armed to deter criminal activity. “Armed” may also extend to weapons like stun guns that help subdue but not severely injure a suspect. Armed guards might be the first to come to mind when you think of the profession, but there are plenty of less-risky career options. Unarmed guards still protect people and prevent danger effectively.

Residential Guards

If you've ever lived in an apartment complex, student housing, or other dense housing scenario, there may have been a guard stationed at the entrance or patrolling the grounds. With so many people coming in and out, having these patrols helps residents feel safer.

Residential guards might spend most of their time outside on patrol or working mostly behind a desk — this can vary widely depending on the type of residence. Imagine a sprawling complex of townhomes versus a soaring high-rise of condos.

Residential guards are known to build strong relationships with residents to help ensure secure and welcoming environments. They often handle deliveries, check-in guests, help with maintenance issues, and direct traffic.


Screeners, who are also known as bouncers or airport security agents, ensure the security of entry points in venues like airports and government buildings by scanning individuals and their belongings. They use metal detectors and X-ray machines to identify prohibited items. Their specific training focuses on visitor search techniques, disruptive behaviour management, and identification verification.

They have the important responsibility of ensuring inappropriate items don’t enter venues, gatherings, and other public spaces. This entry-level security guard role is a great way to get started in the industry and exposes you to a wide variety of situations and individuals.

Surveillance Specialist

Surveillance specialists monitor spaces to detect and record suspicious activities. They are skilled in using advanced surveillance technology and are often involved in law enforcement efforts to gather crucial operational intelligence.

This speciality can be a great fit for tech-savvy and observational individuals. This security guard will likely spend a lot of time behind a desk analyzing screens while also using critical thinking skills to identify troubling patterns and suspicious people.

Bodyguard or Executive Protection Specialist

Some people pay to have security protect them when they travel or during dangerous times. From celebrities to business executives, politicians to scientists, you could be in charge of protecting a broad range of people. Defensive driving is a critical aspect of this role since you might be responsible for transporting the individual and evading anyone who may be trying to tail them.

It might sound a bit out of a movie, but bodyguard work is common in the security industry in all sorts of scenarios. This type of security guard might stick with the same individual for years or be assigned to a new charge daily. This role requires exceptional people skills and the ability to adapt to any situation. Depending on the situation, this can be one of the highest-paying security guard jobs.

Retail Loss Prevention Guard

With retail theft on the rise in Canada, more and more businesses are investing in security guards to protect from losses due to theft, damage, or else. Most of the time, these guards are there to deter shoplifting. They also need to discreetly pursue suspected shoplifters and coordinate with other security guards or law enforcement to apprehend those who snag merchandise.

From grocery stores to luxury boutiques selling gold and diamonds, retail security guards provide an essential service and help every shopper feel safer.

School or Campus Security Guard

School and campus security guards maintain a safe and secure educational environment for students ranging from preschool toddlers to university adults. They patrol school grounds, monitor entry points, and supervise student activities, ensuring that both minor disputes and serious threats are handled promptly and effectively. These guards often act as a bridge between the educational institution and local law enforcement, coordinating during emergencies to execute safety protocols efficiently.

The training for school and campus security guards includes crisis management and emergency response techniques specific to educational settings. They also receive instruction on how to interact positively with students and staff, recognizing and addressing signs of bullying or other distress. This role demands not only vigilance but also a capacity for empathy, as these guards are integral in creating a secure, comfortable, and supportive atmosphere for developing minds.

Parking, Facility, and Mobile Security

You’ve often seen security guards in their patrol cars at malls, airports, and other large facilities. Even places like amusement parks and civic centres have their own security personnel because threats can come from a wide geographic area.

These guards tend to stay mobile in their vehicles so they can pop to the other side of the premises quickly. They might also need to travel between locations, such as security guards who patrol car dealerships. Often, the “locking up” duties fall to this security guard, and they might be scheduled for overnight shifts to keep the environment secure when no one else is around.

A valid license and clean driving record are important for this kind of gig.

Cybersecurity Guard

No, this isn’t a job in the metaverse. Think of large data centers, software companies, cryptocurrency mines, and other places where millions of dollars of computing hardware is stored. These assets aren’t just valuable in their own right but contain priceless information that’s critical to the business, organization, or even the public, in the case of government institutions.

Cybersecurity guards might have completely physical roles, such as guarding and monitoring server rooms and other equipment. They might also have digital responsibilities that require specialty training so they can monitor or cyber-attacks and deploy technology resources to protect the premises.

Private Event Security

From an exclusive birthday party to a local parade, private event guards take their skills to a new location nearly daily as they work at events across their region. They manage guest lists, provide crowd control, and ensure the event runs smoothly without security incidents.

Event guards have the unique responsibility of making sure everyone is having a good time without going overboard. They don’t want to negatively portray the host or organization, but their primary goal is to keep things safe and peaceful. This might involve removing individuals who are disrupting the spirit of the event, breaking up fights, or confiscating dangerous items.

Every Type of Guard Starts Here

No matter which path your security guard career goes down, it all begins with foundational security guard training that covers everything you know to break into the industry.

Ready to discover your potential as a security guard? Get top-notch training to get your security guard license and be on your way to a thriving career.

Quinn Smith ·

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