To work as a professional Security Guard in the UK you need to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Without this licence it is illegal to work in any capacity as a security officer/operative, apart from those wishing to work in house or directly employed by a client. It’s a simple enough process to obtaining your licence, you just need to complete a training course with an SIA recognised training provider, then, upon passing the course you simply apply for your licence and pay a fee of £220 (renewable every 3 years).
Providing that you meet all the licensing requirements you’ll receive your SIA badge within a few weeks and then you’re good to go.
Roles of a Security Guard
Security or Manned guarding, is described by the SIA as activity including any of the following;
- guarding premises against unauthorised access or occupation, against outbreaks of disorder or against damage;
- guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained;
- guarding one or more individuals against assault or against injuries that might be suffered in consequence of the unlawful conduct of others.
As you can see above a security guard is basically there to protect property and the people within from criminal damage and/or injury. They can also perform a loose form of surveillance. An example would be monitoring shoppers in a busy shopping centre, or discreetly following a suspected shoplifter. You will need to be able to remain calm and controlled in potentially stressful situations. In times of emergency, such as building fires etc, people will turn to you for guidance on the best possible way out of danger. And although it is one of the first rungs on the career ladder of the security industry, it can often carry a great deal of responsibility.
Getting Your SIA Security Licence
As always the first thing to do above all else is check your eligibility to obtain an SIA licence. As previously mentioned in my article on becoming a Door Supervisor, time and time again people fail to check there eligibility for a licence and then upon passing their training course and paying the licence fee they’re declined for a failed criminal record check. Not only do they lose their licence fee, but they’ve also paid for training that they can not use. I suggest that before you even think about applying for any form of training within the industry that you check your eligibility using the SIA Criminal Record Indicator. Other points to consider are:
- You must be over 18 years of age
- You must be eligible to work in the UK
- Long working hours (a typical security guard shift is 12 hours)
- Can be a very lonely job
- Pay can vary between minimum wage and £15 per hour (although most Security Guarding jobs pay at the lower end of this scale)
- Need a reasonable level of fitness
If you’re still reading this at this point then it’s fair to assume that you’re interested in making a career as a Security Guard, or at the very least just want to get some weekend work. So what now? Well you need to choose a recognised Security Guard Training provider, and you need to choose well. There is no point choosing the first, cheapest training provider you come across as these may not be the best for you. Remember this job could put you in potentially dangerous situations and as such you need to be confident in your training.
Whilst browsing an internet forum a few months back I saw a question from a newly trained Security Guard. He asked what people thought he should do when confronted by people that he knew that didn’t like him in his local town. This is an example of someone who has likely received poor training and guidance and his question is something which should have been covered in his training.
Remember Google is your friend. Research any training provider that you consider. Search the internet for reviews, and visit forums such as Close Protection World to research further into training providers. Make sure you are 100% happy with the company you choose!
Once you have decided on which Security Company to use you’ll be taken through at least 27 hours of learning about the job. The three main topics you’ll study are;
- Working in the Private Security Industry
- Working as a Security Guard
- Conflict Management for the Private Security Industry
At the end of the course you will sit an exam and upon passing you’ll be eligible for your SIA Licence. To apply for this you simply request an application pack from their number or from their website here, not forgetting that there is a £220 non-refundable fee. You can also get more information from their free Get Licensed pdf download here. The licensing period generally now lasts a few weeks from application to receiving your SIA Licence in the post, however there have been considerable delays at times of a few months so just be aware. Once you have your licence you are then free to start trying to find a suitable Security Company to work for.
A point to note and something to consider is that Security Guarding duties can also be carried out by licensed Door Supervisors. I would therefore recommend to anyone that is considering working both as a Door Supervisor and Security Guard to complete the Door Supervisors course first, as this will save you from having to do two courses and pay for two licenses. To learn more about being a Door Supervisor, read our How To Become A Door Supervisor Article.