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What Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers Do About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Security guards control building access for employees and visitors.

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Patrol property
  • Enforce rules and regulations of an employer's property
  • Monitor alarms and video-surveillance systems
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Deter criminal activity
  • Control building access by employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty

Guards and officers must stay alert, watching for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to contact police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards carry firearms.

Security guards work wherever people and assets need to be protected. Responsibilities vary by employer. In offices and factories, for example, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises. In retail stores, guards protect people, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

Gambling surveillance officers work in freestanding casinos and other facilities that have designated areas for gambling, such as hotels, video gaming terminals, and riverboats. They typically work from an observation room within the gaming facility.

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

Work Environment About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Security guards and gambling surveillance officers may need to monitor activity on multiple cameras.

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators held about 10,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 56%
Casino hotels 18
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 16
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6
Spectator sports 3

Security guards held about 1.2 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of security guards were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services 59%
Educational services; state, local, and private 6
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Accommodation and food services 5
Government 4

Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, stores, and office buildings. Gambling surveillance officers and investigators are employed in casinos and other gaming facilities only in locations where gambling is legal.

Guards may spend considerable time on their feet patrolling buildings and grounds or may sit for long periods at a single post, such as in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community. Others may spend periods of time in a vehicle, patrolling the property and grounds.

Both security guards and gambling surveillance officers may spend much of their shift sitting at a desk or counter in a dark room, observing customers on video surveillance equipment. They may have to monitor activity on multiple screens for long periods of time without distraction.

Work Schedules

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common. Most security guards and gambling surveillance officers work full time. Seasonal work may be available during the holidays and during the warmer summer months in some states.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gambling Surveillance Officer About this section

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers
Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work.

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers typically require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Gambling surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security guards to be licensed by the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not require formal educational credentials. Gambling surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards and surveillance officers, the amount of training varies. Most security guards learn their job in a few weeks, but gambling surveillance officers and investigators may need several months. Employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, crime prevention, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. Instruction may include protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and other specialized training related to the security guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically in the use of firearms.

Gambling surveillance officers and investigators receive training in topics such as the rules of casino games, gaming regulations, identifying cheating techniques, and the proper use of video and radio equipment.

Drug testing may be required both as a condition of employment and randomly during employment.

Work experience in a related occupation

To enter the occupation, gambling surveillance officers and investigators typically need work experience in casinos or with video monitoring technology. Candidates sometimes gain video monitoring experience by working as a security guard.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that security guards be licensed by the state in which they work. Although licensing requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

Guards who carry weapons usually must be licensed by the appropriate government authority. Positions for armed guards have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than do those for unarmed guards. Most states require rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, for armed guards.

Some states and gaming facilities require a minimum age of 21 to work in a casino.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Security guards and surveillance officers must communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations.

Interpersonal skills. Security guards often regularly interact with the public; in addition, they must be able to handle and deescalate confrontational situations.

Observation skills. Security guards and surveillance officers must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Problem-solving skills. Security guards and surveillance officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.

Pay About this section

Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Total, all occupations

$39,810

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

$34,190

Other protective service workers

$29,770

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

$29,710

Security guards

$29,680

 

The median annual wage for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators was $34,190 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,700.

The median annual wage for security guards was $29,680 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,310.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $68,120
Casino hotels 36,930
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 34,710
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 32,050
Spectator sports 31,500

In May 2019, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $34,730
Educational services; state, local, and private 34,460
Healthcare and social assistance 34,330
Accommodation and food services 30,260
Investigation, guard, and armored car services 28,470

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Job Outlook About this section

Security Guards and Gambling Surveillance Officers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

6%

Total, all occupations

4%

Other protective service workers

4%

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

3%

Security guards

3%

 

Overall employment of security guards and gambling surveillance officers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property because of concerns about crime and vandalism.

States continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, resulting in the need for gambling surveillance officers and investigators.

Advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of some security guards and gambling surveillance officers and investigators.

Job Prospects

About 144,000 openings for security guards and gambling surveillance officers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Candidates for higher paying positions, which may require extensive training and experience, should face the most competition. Those who have a background in law enforcement may have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for security guards and gambling surveillance officers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Security guards and gambling surveillance officers

33-9030 1,164,600 1,197,900 3 33,300 Get data

Gambling surveillance officers and gambling investigators

33-9031 10,500 11,100 6 600 Get data

Security guards

33-9032 1,154,100 1,186,800 3 32,800 Get data

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