Jobs in Special Event Security: Career Options and Requirements

Special event security guards require little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

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With a high school diploma, it is possible to begin a career as a special event security guard. These positions may also require the completion of employee-sponsored training and state licensure. Job experience is generally necessary to work at high-profile events.

Essential Information

Special events that draw VIPs or the general public generally need a security presence to maintain order and protect the guests and their property. Many planners engage the services of independent security agencies to monitor their events, while some venues maintain their own security staffs. Some security companies will hire inexperienced guards to work at events and provide on-the-job training in security procedures. However, guards who work at high-profile events generally have several years of experience and advanced training. In fact, many event security guards are off-duty or retired law enforcement officers or military personnel who are looking for extra income. In either case, special event security is a challenging field with a variety of possible career paths.

Career Advance Planning Onsite Security Crisis Response
Required Education High school diploma High school diploma High school diploma
Other Requirements Training & license Training & license Training & license
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 5% for security guards 5% for security guards 5% for security guards
Median Annual Salary* (2015) $24,630 for security guards $24,630 for security guards $24,630 for security guards

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Special event security takes a number of forms, and unlike law enforcement, which generally addresses problems after they have occurred, security focuses on identifying and preventing problems before they happen. Security professionals may work at private events, such as parties, to ensure that the hosts, guests and property are safe from theft or damage. Security details are also required at large events, such as concerts, festivals, conferences, trade shows or anywhere else that a large number of people will gather.

Advance Planning

Event organizers often include security personnel in the planning of the event in order to identify potential hazards and issues. Security managers generally meet with the event planners to discuss security expectations and concerns and identify potential hazards. The planning team also provides relevant information and training to staff.

Onsite Security Teams

Onsite event security teams are what most people imagine when they think of special event security. These professionals are on the front lines, monitoring the entrances and exits, guarding attendees and special guests and maintaining order. Depending on the event and who is attending, onsite security might consist only of door attendants or the security team might include both uniformed and plainclothes officers stationed in different areas.

Crisis Response Teams

In some cases, particularly at large-scale visible events, such as major sporting or entertainment events, the event security team might include a group of crisis response officers. These professionals work with local law enforcement, first responders and other emergency professionals to handle crowd control, site management and investigation if a crisis occurs. In some cases, the onsite team handles this role, but large security firms may have teams specifically for this purpose.

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Education and Training

Event security teams are generally highly trained professionals and specialize in all aspects of security, from identifying hazards to managing emergencies. While most employers do not require event security guards to have a college degree, a high school diploma or GED is generally a prerequisite. In fact, most states require a high school diploma or GED to enroll in security guard licensing classes. However, supervisors and managers generally hold at least a bachelor's degree, often in a law enforcement or criminal justice related field. In addition to state-required security training, some security companies offer security guard training programs to new or prospective employees, covering everything from observation to the use of deadly force. While having a large body size is certainly intimidating to some would-be troublemakers, it's generally more important for security guards to be in good physical shape, agile, alert and observant. Good communication skills, a clean criminal and drug history and the ability to work with diverse groups of people are also valuable skills in this field.

Licensing & Certification

Most states require that all security guards, including those who only work at special events, hold a valid security guard license. The requirements vary by state, but generally include the successful completion of a security guard training course and passing a written exam and a background check. If security guards carry weapons, including firearms, states require additional training and licensure. Depending on the employer, some of the required training may be provided on-the-job.

While employers do not generally require certification, becoming certified as a security guard can improve career prospects and earning potential in the security industry. ASIS International, formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security, offers the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) designation. The credential usually requires a minimum of seven years of security experience and passing a written exam.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, security guards earned an annual median salary of $24,630, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicted 5% employment growth from 2014-2024 for this occupation.

Special event security officers provide security at events that may attract VIPs, such as politicians or performers. Their job is to ensure the safety of those at the event and monitor the premises or focus on protecting an assigned individual. Special event security offers can include high school graduates who've completed special training programs as well as current and former police offers and military personnel.

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