Throughout our modern society, few industries have grown as fast as the air travel industry. Whether you wish to hop on a plan for a quick excursion or travel the world, air travel is the top mode of transportation throughout all industrialized nations. However, as the concentration of air travelers increases so does the threat of malicious organizations. In order to increase the safety of all airports throughout the United States, the demand for highly trained and high-quality airport security guards is ever-growing.
If you’re interested in a fast-paced, ever-evolving career within the security industry, then you should consider a position as an airport security guard. While this career choice is constantly changing to meet the safety and security demands of major transportation hubs, the job requirements and functions are universal across all airports and all security positions. There are many online security guard training options and resource guides for those looking to work airport security.
It is important to note that the Aviation and Transportation Security Act required all passenger screenings to be conducted by Federal employees. Since November 2002, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducts all screenings for both passengers and their luggage. The TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security. These vary vastly from general airport security guards, but all are important to the safety and security of our nation’s airports.
Primary Responsibilities of an Airport Security Guard
Although exact job responsibilities will vary based upon your position and employer, airport security guards are primarily responsible for:
- Following airport guidelines to cultivate a safe environment for passengers
- Operate X-ray Equipment
- Search passenger belongings according to airport and TSA guidelines
- Verify passenger clearance by cross-checking passenger tickets with government-issued photo identification
- Working with the regional airport security agency along with federal agencies to implement higher security processes based upon current threat levels
Secondary Responsibilities of an Airport Security Guard
The exact daily responsibilities and tasks for an airport security guard can greatly vary from day to day as well as from airport to airport. This being noted, there are several universal secondary responsibilities most airport security guards are responsible for undertaking throughout their shift. These include:
- Monitoring passenger and employee activity throughout their designated sections
- Logging foot traffic within their department and ensuring only authorized personnel access restricted zones
- Communicating passenger activities with fellow security guards and security directors
- Writing daily security reports for management and police should an incident occur
Necessary Skills for Airport Security Guards
As with any security guard position, in order to excel at this career you must first and foremost hold solid communication skills. Because this job can be mentally and physically demanding, the most successful candidates are those capable of working well under pressure while maintaining an acute awareness of their surroundings. Information recall and relaying of vital happenings throughout their section is imperative when determining security risks or evaluating potential hazards. Above all else, the most successful airport security guards are those capable of paying attention and adjusting their focus as unique and unexpected situations arise.
To become a security guard, you must possess keen eyes, agility, and a talent for working with people. In many states, however, you must possess a specialized security qualification card.
To be able to apply for a security guard position in California, the aspiring candidate must apply for GUARD card. A guard card is only issues to individuals who have passed the basic 8 hour training security course, taught by a qualified instructor. You must also have taken and passed a qualifying exam. The 8 hour course consists of fundamental topics that are crucial for working as security professional, such as Power to Arrest and Terrorism Awareness. Successful completion of these requirements allows the person to be hired in a guard position; however, more training is required to be registered as a professional security guard. In addition, all applicants must be over 18 years old and pass a background check to obtain a GUARD CARD.
For California candidates, security guard training also requires that the individual take another 16 hours of professional training, consisting of choosing two of four offered mandatory training courses, within the first 30 days of hire and then 16 additional hours of training within six months. These requirements allow you to be an unarmed security guard. To obtain specific authorization to yield a baton or hold a firearm, additional coursework and state requirements must be met.
GUARD card coursework can be taken at a physical location or online. Many candidates opt for online instruction due the ability to learn at home without distractions as well as fit the coursework around their busy work schedule.
In Illinois, to become eligible to become a security guard, the candidate needs to obtain a PERC card. The acronym stands for Permanent Employee Registration Card. To obtain a PERC card, the individual must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid ID and social security number, and submit to a background check by having their fingerprints scanned and analyzed. There are 20 more hours of coursework required, concerning subjects applicable to the security guard’s employment specialty. Like California, the mandatory coursework is also available online. Passing these requirements allow you to work as an unarmed security guard.
Before applying for work as a security guard, it is imperative to see what type of qualifications and/or type of card you must hold to be employed in this important profession.
Security Guard Training Overview
Perhaps one of the biggest questions many aspiring security guards have involves the type of training curriculum they must learn. Much like any other professional-level career, in order to excel as a security guard you must not only successfully graduate from a security guard training program, but truly understand the various topics and procedures these professionals encounter on a daily basis. Although security guard training requirements are often overseen by the employing state, the following curriculum topics are considered universal throughout the United States.
Public Relations – A Fight Against Discrimination and Stereotyping
Being a security guard doesn’t always mean reacting to an obvious threat. Many times, security guards must use their psychological know-how to identify potential threats before they actually become a threat. However, as many studies have found, this opens the door to unfair discrimination and stereotyping – two major issues that could result in a lawsuit, or worse, termination of your employment. Therefore, one of the cornerstone courses for many security guard training programs is learning how to accurately identify threats based upon physical actions and not upon perceived threats. You must learn how to ignore your own discrimination and stereotypes and see all individuals around your client as a potential threat. Throughout this course, you’ll learn how to recognize physical and behavioral indicators that hint at physical aggression, psychological illness and reactions based upon substance abuse.
Power to Arrest – Your Legal Grounds on “Arresting” Threats
it’s important to realize you are not a police office. While you may come hand-in-hand with a viable threat, which requires restraining, you cannot go around behaving as a police officer. Thousands of former security guards learned this lesson the hard way, which is incorrectly restraining a potential threat only to realize what they did was illegal. Therefore, throughout this course you’ll learn how to properly detain and subdue a threat until the legal authorities arrive. You’ll learn how to de-escalate a serious situation, remove the active threat and legally detain a suspected threat until the police arrive.
Effective Documentation – Reporting Techniques
Regardless of the industry you choose to work in, you’ll be required to write detailed reports regarding incidents – either real or perceived. In order to sustain a legal backing to your actions, you must learn how to accurately observe and document activities that directly influence your client and actions. Failure to accurately document can lead to serious legal ramifications.
Legalities of Being a Security Guard or Bodyguard
As a security guard, you are in a way, acting as part of the legal system. Although you are not a police officer – and should never behave as such – it’s important to understand what you can and cannot do in terms of the law. Themes within this coursework generally involve employer and personal liability and entry-level understanding of the criminal justice system and how this system pertains to your work as a security guard.
Do you have dreams of working hand-in-hand with high-profile clients? If you’re interested in working as a high-end security guard, then it’s imperative to delve into the requirements set forth by the majority of security companies. While your initial training programs will effectively cover many topics, the most sought after security guard companies set forth a unique set of requirements and skills. Mastering these skills not only allows you to apply for higher-paying assignments, but the greater your skills the greater your employment options throughout all industries.
Required Skills for Security Company Employment
The following list of skills should not be considered essential for every security guard job (for example, bomb search and identification is not necessarily required for those seeking to work as a private security guard). However, by expanding your skills as a security guard you’re not only more marketable to potential employers, but your ability to ensure the safety of clients is significantly increased. As with any industry, it’s imperative to seek out learning and education opportunities as often as possible. The best security guards are those with the widest list of skills and abilities.
Estate Security – In the most fundamental sense, estate security is the act of security and protecting physical property. Throughout the coursework, you’re taught how to effective patrol a property, communicating with other law enforcement agencies, how to effectively keep track of physical inventory, how to document items of value and how to maintain control over an entire property. This level of security is essential when working with high-end clients, such as celebrities and institutions such as museums.
Bomb Identification and Searching – Although this type of training does not involve the actual disarmament of bombs, you will learn how to identify potential bombs as well as where to check throughout a property for bomb placement. The prevention of bomb placement is a major topic within this skill, and it’s one that must be mastered for many high-end security guard positions. Along with learning how to identify a bomb, you’re taught the basics of safe and effective evacuation.
First Aid Response – There may be instances when you must provide life-saving care for your client. Therefore, one of the most important skills to master is first aid response and techniques. The most common topics covered in this type of coursework include treating wounds, bone injuries and skin burns.
High-Profile Client Security – Many aspiring security and bodyguards wish to work with high-profile clients, such as CEOs and celebrities. Due to the public nature of these professionals, the techniques used to secure these clients is vastly different than traditional security guard training techniques. Throughout this type of course, you’ll learn how to handle pressures of dealing with a mob of fans, press and unique situations only those working with such clients will encounter, such as dealing with international customs and culture requirements.