Police Officer vs. Security Guard

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So you’ve decided that you’d like a job in law enforcement or private security, now the question is which is the better choice for you. There are lots of things to consider when making this choice of police officer vs. security guard but I personally think there is a clear winner when choosing.

1. Background Check

Police Officer – Police officer candidates will have a typical background and credit check done. Police also have the extra requirement of a full polygraph test. If there is some bad information in your past like drug usage it’s not likely that you can hide this in you police interviews.

Security Guard – Every private security firm or other hiring business has their own requirements. In general a standard background check will be completed. It’s not likely that any other check is required although high security positions may require more.

2. Required Training

Police – The required training to become a police officer includes passing the police academy. Police academies vary by state but typically run 4 to 6 months. To pass the police academy you will need to pass a written and physical test. Also during your interview process you will need to pass a written and physical that is specific to each police department.

Security Guard – Training requirements vary by state from no training to 40 hours of training. Some states require a security guard license to be obtained. An employer may require greater training depending upon the private security job.Check here for state by state training requirements.

3. Pay and Benefits

Police Officer – Salary.com lists the average median base salary for a police patrol officer as $50,299 with average benefits worth $22,029.

Security Guard – Salary.com lists the average median base salary for a security guard as $28,765 with average benefits worth $15,697.

4. Opportunity

Police Officer – There are thousands of police departments across the US with many opportunities to move up the ladder to higher positions. Police also have many opportunities to work on the side as a security guard, especially during the holiday season in malls.

Security Guard – Most security officer jobs are lower end jobs. There can be great opportunities for very prestigious jobs if you do private security for high-profile individuals or  manage security for a company. These are great jobs but will require a lot of experience and more than a simple 8 hour training course.

While there can be great opportunity in private security it seems like a no brainer to me. Becoming a police officer is the way to go. If you’d like to move to private security later you’ll already be ahead of the game. Hope this helps in your job search.