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Proprietary Private Security Officer vs Security Guard


Are you interested in becoming a proprietary private security officer vs security guard? Did you know that there are differences between the two as it relates to carrying a weapon, authority to detain or arrest, and varying licensure, certification, and registration requirements, among other things. Let’s dive in.

What is the Role of A Security Guard?

Security guards usually are hired by private security companies. These private security companies are in turn hired by other companies or third-party (client) to provide protection and safety to their assets, which could include a building, a property, equipment, people, and money, just to name a few. So, if you want to pursue a career as a security guard, you have to apply for a job through the private security company and not directly through the client or third party.

Most security guards are not armed and not required to carry special equipment to be able to perform their duty; although, some do carry arms while others carry non-lethal weapons such as batons and handcuffs. It all depends on the arrangement or rules that each private security company has in place. It also depends on the level of security that the client requires. In some instances, the client or third party may ask for security dogs to accompany the security guard. And so, the client’s profile and needs have to be taken into consideration. Security guards are known to provide protection for public and private companies and institutions as well as residences in some cases. Security guards are expected to wear a uniform to work so they can be identified as such. It also gives them that sense of authority. The security guard legal authority is more limited than the private security officer.

What Is The Immediate Difference?

It is possible that when talking about security guard and private security guard, the concepts are believed to be synonymous. While, they both fall into similar categories, they are not entirely the same. There is a difference between a conventional security guard and a private security guard in terms of the functions they perform in the workplace and the guidelines, regulations and specifications they have to follow.

What Are the Distinct Differences?

The differences that exist between security guard and private security guard are:

  • The private security guard is qualified to carry firearms in the event that the service, unlike the security guard who must have received training and license.
  • Both are empowered to arrest, but the private security guard is obligated to do so while on duty.
  • To be a private security guard, you must obtain security guard authority or authorization from law enforcement. The security guard does not need this authorization to perform his functions.
  • The private security guard can search bags, people, conduct searches, etc. for justified reasons due to the suspicion of a crime committed. The security guard does not have this power.
  • The private security officers are considered as subordinates and as such, they have the obligation to help and can collaborate with law enforcement in maintaining security for citizens. Security guards do not receive this consideration.
  • Both are qualified to offer security and surveillance services with certain specifications and requirements.

Want to know what authority do security guards have? A security guard’s daily responsibility would be to verify security log details, utilize video cameras for monitoring the area, patrol the surroundings to see if there are any suspicious activities and provide access to personnel or any authorized individuals to any restricted areas. The security guard will also guide individuals in exiting the premises when it is necessary. They will also report irregularities found in the security log and be custodians to valuable assets, if required. They are also called on to handle emergencies related to security.

Want to know what is the legal authority of private security guards? The private security officer is usually hired directly by the client who wants protection while out in public or security of their residence or business. The private security officer is like a contractor who does not work on behalf of an agency or company, but works as a sole proprietor in most cases. Many police officers work as private security guards while off duty and are already equipped with a lethal weapon. If working on behalf of an agency, then the private security guard will be armed with a lethal weapon, which belongs to him.

What Authority Do Security Guards Have?

The legal authority of security guards and that of the private security authority is a little different. A private security office can do an arrest, if there is probably cause. However, a security guard must have witnessed a crime before able to make a legal arrest. Security guards are considered private citizens as anyone else and so, their role in a crime is restricted.

What Are The Requirements To Become A Security Guard?

To become a proprietary private security officer vs security guard, you need to be 18 years or older. You must have a high school diploma or a GED and the ability to work in the United States. For those who are looking to secure an armed position, the age requirement is 21. Each state has its own security guard licensing requirements. Most security agencies provide on the job training; especially to new security guards. In fact, if you want to qualify for a license, you have to be trained and pass their written test, which covers different topics such as emergency procedures, crime prevention and evidence handling as well as how to safely use a weapon.

Some private security officers do have their bachelor’s degrees and a small number have a master’s degree. However, you can become a private security officer with only a GED and high school diploma. It is important to choose the right college major if you want to pursue a career as a private security officer. If you have experience in law enforcement, you can also become one.
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