The average salary for a security guard in the United States is about $16.89 per hour, which equates to just under $40,000 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.

State Hourly Rate

Here’s a few examples of the hourly rates around the United States:

  • Chicago, IL – $16.07/hour
  • Houston, TX – $14.26/hour
  • Indianapolis, IN – $17.49/hour
  • San Diego, CA – $18.43/hour
  • Newark, NJ – $16.78/hour
  • Manhattan, NY – $18.06/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 $18.06 per hour in Manhattan, with most metropolitan areas falling somewhere between $14-$19 per hour.

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.

How Much Do Security Guards Make In NJ?

  1. Jersey City, NJ – $15.89/hour

  2. Parsippany, NJ – $13.84/hour

  3. Newark, NJ – $16.78/hour

  4. Secaucus, NJ – $16.91/hour

  5. Edison, NJ – $16.93/hour

  6. Union, NJ – $15.23/hour

  7. Atlantic City, NJ – $16.54/hour

  8. East Orange, NJ – $18.85/hour

  9. Somerville, NJ – $15.98/hour

These salaries are approximations, but are the averages in these areas.

How Much Do Security Guards Make In NYC?

  1. New York, NY$18.06/hour

  2. Manhattan, NY – $18.74/hour

  3. White Plains, NY – $16.24/hour

  4. Long Island, NY – $17.77/hour

  5. Queens, NY$17.63/hour

  6. Bronx, NY – $17.25/hour

  7. Buffalo, NY – $18.36/hour

  8. Staten Island, NY – $17.32/hour

  9. Rochester, NY – $17.22/hour

These salaries are approximations, but are the averages in these areas.

What You Would Do As A Security Guard

The role of a security guard is multifaceted, with a job description that extends beyond basic security measures to encompass a wide array of duties aimed at safeguarding clients, ensuring the security of properties, and enhancing the safety of assets.

patrol officer (2)

These professionals, whether they serve as unarmed security guards in public spaces or as professional security guards within corporate settings, are pivotal in maintaining a secure environment.

Related: Skills And Qualities Of Security Officers

Enforcing Access Control

Security guards are instrumental in implementing access control systems for commercial real estate and private properties.

This responsibility, crucial to effective property management, involves utilizing advanced security technologies and methodologies to ensure that only authorized individuals gain entry, thereby protecting the premises from potential threats.

Surveillance and Monitoring

Through vigilant surveillance, security guards play a critical role in the continuous monitoring of designated areas or buildings.

This includes utilizing CCTV systems and patrolling techniques to detect suspicious activities, thereby preventing incidents before they occur. The ability to conduct effective surveillance is a key component of a security guard’s job, requiring a keen eye for detail and a high level of alertness.

Inspection at Checkpoints

In high-security zones such as airports and government buildings, security guards are tasked with inspecting bags or packages to thwart unauthorized access.

This duty is essential in mitigating risks and ensuring that safety protocols are strictly adhered to.

Identity Verification

The verification of identities through document checks is particularly crucial in environments that require heightened security.

Security guards ensure that only those with proper authorization can access sensitive areas, thus playing a key role in safeguarding information and personnel.

Night Shift Vigilance

Many security guards work night shifts, providing round-the-clock protection for properties and assets.

police investigating crime scene

This often involves patrolling grounds, monitoring surveillance equipment, and responding to alarms or incidents that may occur outside of regular business hours.

These expanded responsibilities reflect the diverse skill set required of security guards, emphasizing their importance in maintaining safety and security across various industries.

With specialized training and a security guard license, these professionals are equipped to handle the challenges of the role, contributing significantly to the well-being of their clients and the communities they serve.

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.

Salary Variations by Location

Metropolitan areas such as Chicago, IL, and San Diego, CA, offer competitive wages reflecting the cost of living and demand for security services.

For instance, security guards in Manhattan, NY, and Jersey City, NJ, rank among the highest earners in the field, underscoring the premium placed on security roles in these urban settings.

Diverse Industries and Employment Opportunities

The security sector offers a wide array of employment opportunities across various industries.

From residential complexes and gated communities to the hospitality and retail sectors, the demand for unarmed security guards and professional security officers is vast.

These positions often require a high school diploma and specific training or a security guard license, particularly for roles with significant safety responsibilities.

Education, Training, and Career Progression

The field of security offers a diverse range of job titles and employment opportunities, reflecting the varied needs of different industries and sectors.

From traditional roles such as night shift guards at commercial real estate properties to more specialized positions like those responsible for cybersecurity in healthcare facilities, the security jobs market is broad and varied.

This diversity allows for a wide career range, catering to individuals with different skills, interests, and levels of education.

Moreover, the demand for security services extends beyond the private sector, with many security guards finding rewarding careers in government and public service roles.

These positions might include securing public buildings, protecting sensitive government grounds, or even serving in district-level security teams.

Such roles not only offer competitive salaries and benefits but also provide a sense of fulfillment from serving the public and contributing to the safety and security of society.

Security guards often work in teams, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, communication, and shared responsibility.

The ability to work as part of a security team is a valuable skill, enhancing a guard’s effectiveness and the collective ability to protect clients and assets.

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. Here’s more information on guard training for NYC. Also, some states will accept prior training and experience instead of the required training for a security guard position.

Related: How To Get Your NYS License & Become A Security Guard

The Role of Training in Career Advancement

The path to becoming a professional security guard often begins with comprehensive training and education.

While the basic requirement for many security jobs is a high school diploma, obtaining a security guard license is a crucial step that significantly broadens one’s job prospects and potential for higher pay.

The licensing process typically involves completing a state-approved training course that covers essential topics such as public safety, access control, emergency response protocols, and lawful patrolling techniques.

This education ensures that security guards are well-prepared to safeguard clients and property effectively.

For those aspiring to specialize further, additional certifications can lead to positions such as unarmed security guard roles or even specialized security officer positions.

These advanced training programs dive deeper into specific areas like digital security systems, advanced surveillance techniques, and crisis management.

Such education is not only pivotal for personal career advancement but also enhances the security services provided to clients, thereby increasing the overall safety of the community.

Concluding Insights

Becoming a security guard is a career choice that offers a wide range of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

With the right training and education, individuals can embark on fulfilling careers that not only provide competitive salaries but also contribute significantly to the safety and well-being of communities.

As security needs evolve and expand across different sectors, the demand for skilled and trained security professionals is expected to grow, offering a stable and rewarding career path for those interested in this vital field.

Joseph Ferdinando is the visionary founder of Building Security Services, a leading security company renowned for its comprehensive security services. With an illustrious career spanning over 40 years in the security industry, Joseph has been instrumental in elevating the standards of security guard services for a broad spectrum of businesses and organizations. As an influential member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) in both New York and New Jersey chapters, Joseph has played a pivotal role in shaping industry standards and practices.