Wage rates for guards vary with different employers, with different industries and in different parts of the country. Typical starting wages for guards with little or no experience are minimum wage to $12.00 an hour. Wages for experienced guards are $12.00 to $19.50. Armed guards generally earn more than unarmed guards. Fees paid to guard services vary from about $25 to $30/hr for a regular trained guard up to $40 to $50/hr for an armed guard.
The following statistics are nationwide averages:
* Median annual earnings of security guards were $23,460 in May, 2008.
* The middle 50 percent earned between $19,150 and $30,100.
* The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,680.
* The highest 10 percent earned more than $39,360.
Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of security guards in May, 2008 were as follows:
* Elementary and secondary schools $27,980.
* General medical and surgical hospitals $29,020.
* Local government $27,660.
* Traveler accommodation $25,660.
* Investigation and security services $22,170.
* Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators had median annual earnings of $28,850 in May, 2008.
* The middle 50 percent earned between $23,000 and $37,690.
* The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,290.
* The highest 10 percent earned more than $48,310.
Since guards are needed around the clock, they may be assigned to any eight-hour shift or to rotating shifts. At least two-thirds of the work is at night. Guards may also work any day of the year. Employers sometimes pay higher rates for night shifts and sometimes for holidays. Most contract guards (those employed by an outside service agency) and some in-house guards work on-call or part time for at least their first 90 days. Guards who do well on these assignments can move into full-time, permanent positions when they are available.
Equipment costs might include uniforms, two-way radios, batons (nightsticks), handcuffs, bullet-proof vests, and weapons (pepper spray, stun guns, stun batons and spray batons). Usually the employer provides the equipment, except for firearms, and many employers provide uniforms and uniform cleaning allowances.
Citations: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2009 Edition, Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos159.htm#outlook (visited February 18, 2011).