A security guard is a person who protects people and property from dangers such as crime, fire, accidents, and natural disasters. Security guards are normally hired by companies, public institutions, or private individuals.
A security guard’s duties may include:
- Controlling access to private property
- Providing surveillance of an area or building
- Inspecting bags or packages that are brought into a site (such as at the airport)
- Protecting company assets during transit (such as truck drivers)
- Managing crowds in public spaces (like concerts or sporting events)
- Checking identification documents to verify someone’s identity (especially when people are entering secure areas)
- Writing incident reports about any unusual occurrences they observe while on duty.
- And more depending on the job requirements as each location will vary slightly.
The average salary for a security guard in the United States is about $13.76 per hour, which equates to just under 32,000 per year, but that will depend on the state or city of employment.
To determine how much a security guard makes hourly, you need to look more specifically in the area of employment for the guard.
Average Hourly Salary
The hourly salary for a security guard will vary greatly depending on the state, city, and employer.
According to Indeed, an average of $12.50 – $15 per hour is what you can expect as a security guard. Location plays a part in how much a security guard makes because companies pay individuals with highly desired skill sets more money.
In some states, you can find entry-level security guards without much experience earning an average of $10-$12 per hour, while in larger metropolitan areas, that same person would be making closer to the state’s average salary.
State Hourly Rate
Here’s a few examples of the hourly rates around the United States:
- Chicago, IL – $13.98/hour
- Houston, TX – $11.86/hour
- Indianapolis, IN – $12.98/hour
- San Diego, CA – $15.22/hour
- Newark, NJ – $13.12/hour
- Manhattan, NY – $15.82/hour
As you can see by the data above, there are huge differences in how much a security guard makes hourly.
You can expect the highest hourly rate of $15.82 per hour in Manhattan, with most metropolitan areas falling somewhere between $11-$14 per hour.
Security guards work for several different industries depending on location and job requirement, but here are some of the most common positions:
- Apartment complex
- Gated communities
- Office building
- Hospitality industry (such as hotels or casinos)
- Retail businesses
- Sports arenas and events
- Airport security
As you can see, there is a wide range of employment opportunities in the field of security. The hourly rate for a security guard varies greatly as well.
It’s important to note that as a security guard becomes more experienced and gains additional training, their hourly rate is likely to go up.
The hourly rate for a security guard will also depend on the amount of work required for each position and what type of experience is needed.
For example, an entry-level position to check identification documents at an airport will typically pay less than a security guard who patrols the perimeter of a gated community.
Security Guards vs. Security Officers
Although they are often confused, there is a difference between security guards and security officers. Security guards are trained to monitor activity in specific areas, while patrol officers are typically responsible for securing an entire perimeter.
Entry-level security guards do not typically have the same authority as patrol officers, but they still provide value to their employers.
Education and Training
While no formal education is required for a security guard position, several states require training before allowing anyone to work as an armed guard.
Training requirements vary state by state. Also, some states will accept prior training and experience instead of the required training for a security guard position.
Salary By State
The states where you can find the highest earning security guards include New Jersey and California. Other high-paying states include Washington D.C., Illinois, and New York.
Hourly Rate By Experience
As a security guard gains experience and increases their skill set, they become more valuable to their employer and thus earn a higher hourly rate.
Although many companies start new security guards at the minimum wage regardless of experience, other companies prefer to invest in an experienced guard who can hit the ground running.
Average Salary By Company Size
Although large companies tend to pay on the higher end, smaller companies also offer competitive pay.
Generally, the bigger the company is, the higher salary you can expect to receive as a security guard. However, by working for a large company, you also have the opportunity to gain career advancement opportunities.
Many factors determine the hourly rate for a security guard. Your experience, training, location, and type of company all play a part in how much you can expect to be paid.
In general, an entry-level security guard can expect to earn between $11-$13 per hour. More experienced guards with additional training and those who work in metropolitan areas will tend to fall on the higher end of that pay scale.
By gaining experience as a security guard, you increase your value as an employee and typically make more money.
Although some employers typically pay the same rate regardless of experience, other companies prefer to invest in an experienced worker who can hit the ground running and provide value to the company right away.