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Careers in Mall Security: Job Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a mall security guard. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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An entry level position as a mall security officer requires a high school diploma or GED, and advancement to management positions may require a postsecondary degree. Mall security officers must be in good health and be able to pass a background check and drug test. Many states also require mall security officers to have a license.

Essential Information

Mall security officers protect retail property, mall staff and shoppers. They are generally highly-trained professionals who are prepared to respond to almost any situation at great personal risk. Some people enter the field as a stepping stone toward a career in law enforcement, but whether they're in it for the short-term or as a career, there are several options to pursue.

Required Education High school diploma, bachelor's for supervisory positions
Other Requirements Training, certification, licensure, clean criminal background
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (all security guards)
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $28,460 (all security guards)

Mall Security Job Options

The primary purpose of mall security officers is to ensure the safety and security of mall patrons and employees and protect mall property from theft or damage. They work closely with local law enforcement to ensure that everyone who shops and works at the mall is safe from harm, that the assets of the mall and its tenants are protected and that no criminal activity takes place at the site.

Static Positions

Static mall security positions are primarily surveillance positions that require the officer to monitor the property from one location, usually by watching video feeds from security cameras. Static officers then communicate their findings to mobile officers, who investigate and address the situation. Static security officers may also be called loss prevention specialists or loss prevention detectives; mall or store management may hire these professionals to develop strategies to minimize loss by theft, and train other security officers in applying those strategies.

Mobile Positions

Mobile mall security officers physically patrol the property, remaining alert for suspicious activity or problems. They are generally in regular communication with the static officers, and often respond to reports from the static location. Mobile officers might provide assistance in an emergency, such as directing customers in the event of a fire, or answer mall patron questions. Mobile security officers move around the facility, either on foot or in motorized vehicles, ensuring that patrons are following the mall's rules and standards and that there are no safety hazards.

Mobile security officers also assist with apprehending and detaining suspected criminals. Any time they respond to and investigate a problem, ranging from suspected shoplifting to bomb threats, mall security officers must write a report of the incident in compliance with their employer's standard procedures. They might also serve as witnesses for local law enforcement when necessary.

Traffic Enforcement

Most malls have a team of security officers that monitor the exterior of the mall, addressing incidents in the parking lot and surrounding area. The security officers patrol the parking lots to deter crime and provide assistance to customers when necessary.

Requirements for Mall Security Jobs

In general, mall security officers must be at least 18 years old. Mall security officers at the lower levels may only need a high school diploma or GED, while supervisors or higher-level positions generally require a minimum of a bachelor's degree; some facilities prefer to hire security personnel with a degree in criminal justice or police science. In addition to education requirements, mall security officers generally need to pass criminal background checks and drug tests.

Given the physical demands of the job, they should be in good physical health and have quick reflexes, as well as be able to walk long distances; some mall security guards walk up to eight miles a day or more. Good observation and decision-making abilities, and excellent written and verbal communication skills are also important traits for mall security officers.

Licensing

Most states require security guards to hold a license earned through extensive training, both in the classroom and on the job. The necessary training may be provided upon employment with the mall or its independent security provider. Some states require that a potential licensee have a job offer before enrolling in the licensing program; although in some cases, prospective security workers can complete the state-approved training on their own before seeking employment. Some states also require security guards to be bonded or insured before issuing a license. If the security guard carries a firearm, then he or she must have the appropriate training and license to do so.

Certification

While it's not always required by employers, some mall security guards seek the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) designation from ASIS International, formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security. Earned by passing a comprehensive written examination after at least seven years of work experience (nine years if the applicant does not have a bachelor's degree), the CPP credential can provide security professionals more credibility with employers and may increase their earning potential.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

About average 5% employment growth is projected for security guards over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). The May 2015 mean wage for these guards was $28,460.

Mall security officers ensure the safety and security of people and goods on mall property. They may be required to monitor parts of the mall's interior via cameras or to walk through inside and outside areas to ensure the safety of mall patrons. They work closely with law enforcement to prevent thefts or threats to safety on mall property.

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