In our fast-paced world where change is the only constant, the importance of security services has skyrocketed. We all face many threats and risks from businesses and government bodies to everyday individuals.

That’s where security guards step in, becoming an essential part of our safety measures. But it’s important to remember that not all security guards are cut from the same cloth.

There’s a whole spectrum of security guards, each with unique roles, responsibilities, and areas of expertise.

In this piece, I draw from my four decades of hands-on experience in the security industry to delve into the nuances of various security guard roles. Having founded Building Security Services and collaborated with industry giants through BOMA, I aim to provide you with an insider’s perspective on what each type of guard truly brings to the table.

1. Government Contract Security Guards

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside government contract security guards. They stand out as some of the most rigorously trained and well-equipped professionals in our industry. Entrusted by the government, their primary mission is to safeguard government assets and personnel, a responsibility I’ve seen them uphold with utmost dedication.

They can be deployed in various settings, including courthouses, military command centers, and other government facilities.

In high-risk situations, they are called upon to defend personnel and property. Before being hired, these guards must have a clean criminal record, and those with criminal records are often ruled out as potential candidates.

security officer

2. In-House Security Guards

During my tenure at Building Security Services, I’ve overseen the hiring of numerous in-house security guards. These individuals are directly integrated into company teams, offering a level of familiarity and trust that’s distinct from those sourced from external agencies. Their dedication to the company’s ethos and values often sets them apart.

Instead, they’re like any other company employee, reporting directly to their employers and operating under the company’s guidelines and expectations.

You’ll find in-house security guards in a whole host of industries. They’re the friendly faces ensuring safety in banks, hospitals, and cruise ships. They’re the vigilant professionals safeguarding information in security industries and the watchful eyes in hotels, nightclubs, and museums.

While some countries have rules against recruiting security internally, many firms continue to see the value in having dedicated security staff. These companies prefer the control and consistency that comes with having an in-house team.

If you ever wondered who’s looking out for you during your bank transactions or while you’re enjoying a night out, it’s likely an in-house security guard.

3. Contract Security Guards

Throughout my career, when I mention I’m in the security business, most people immediately picture contract security guards. It’s no surprise, given their ubiquity and the pivotal role they play in various settings. Their adaptability and versatility have made them a staple in our industry.

These professionals are hired by private security agencies, which clients then contract. It’s like a matchmaking service for security – the agency provides guards that best fit the client’s needs.

This makes it a super flexible option for businesses and individuals seeking security services. Whether you need a guard for a one-off event or a long-term contract, these agencies can tailor their services to meet your needs.

patrol officer (2)

4. Unarmed Security Guards

Now, let’s talk about unarmed security guards. Despite what their name suggests, these guards are far from defenseless. They may not carry guns or other weapons, but their presence alone is often enough to deter criminals or trespassers.

Think of them as the vigilant eyes and ears on the ground. They patrol locations, closely monitor security systems and quickly respond to threats. Their day-to-day tasks are varied, involving everything from surveillance and patrolling to access control and policy enforcement.

They’re also in charge of crowd control, conducting searches, and acting as a general deterrent to crime. So while they might not be armed, they’re certainly not unarmed regarding their skill set.

5. Armed Security Guards

Armed security guards are the heavyweights of the security world. They’re the ones you’ll find in high-threat environments, where the stakes are high, and danger is a constant companion.

Whether it’s a business located in a high crime area or where an individual’s life is at risk, these guards are armed and ready. They carry lethal weapons and small firearms on the job site, but it’s not just about having a gun.

These guards undergo rigorous training and must meet state-mandated firearms certification to carry a firearm legally. Many of them are ex-military or former law enforcement officers, bringing their extensive experience and familiarity with firearms to the role.

Read more: Unarmed vs. Armed Security Guards: How To Know What You Need

6. Bodyguards

When you think of a bodyguard, you might picture a burly individual in a suit, always at the side of a celebrity or high-profile individual. And you wouldn’t be far off.

Bodyguards, also known as personal protection agents, protect a specific person. They ensure the safety of high-net-worth individuals, dignitaries, celebrities, and other VIPs like politicians.

These guards are generally well-armed and highly trained, ready to respond to any threat immediately.

7. Video Surveillance Operators

Video surveillance operators are the eyes in the sky. They’re trained in the ins and outs of video surveillance tactics and equipment. Working alongside other security guards, they evaluate camera footage, conduct surveillance, and monitor situations.

Many businesses install surveillance cameras inside and outside their facilities to monitor any potential illegal activity. These operators are the ones who sift through hours of footage, always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

Read more: How Surveillance Is Used In Security

8. Patrol Guards

Patrol guards are the roving sentinels of the security world. They patrol premises day and night, checking for any suspicious activity or threat. They’re not always there but always around, patrolling at scheduled times and ready to respond to emergency calls.

Whether you need someone to patrol your property all hours of the day and night or at specific intervals on specific days, these guards have got you covered.

Read more: What Security Guards Check For When On Patrol

9. Event Security Guards

Event security guards are the peacekeepers of the event world. They’re responsible for crowd control and maintaining order at concerts, sporting events, and professional conferences.

They ensure attendees stay where they’re supposed to be and don’t bring any forbidden items into the venue. And if things get a little heated, particularly at events where emotions run high or alcohol is involved, they’re the ones who step in to prevent or break up physical fights.

They’re the unsung heroes that help ensure your favorite events run smoothly.

Making an Informed Decision

Understanding the different types of security guards can help you choose the right security services for your needs. Whether for a business, an event, or personal protection, there’s a type of security guard that’s the right fit for every situation.

The security industry offers a wide range of services, yet many people need to be made aware of their importance to their business or personal needs. When looking for different security guard service providers in NJ or your area, remember that various solutions may be available to meet your individual needs or goals.

Choosing the right type of security guard depends on your specific needs. Consider the level of risk, the nature of the property or person to be protected, and the potential threats.

Armed security guards or government contract security guards might be necessary for high-risk situations. For low-risk situations, unarmed security guards or video surveillance operators might suffice.


Security guards play a crucial role in maintaining safety and order. This article was created with the primary aim of helping you understand the different types of security guards and their functions.

By providing a comprehensive and original analysis of the topic, we hope to have given you the tools to make an informed decision about your security needs.

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.