California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Security Guards in California

May also be called: Security Officers; Campus Security Officers; Bodyguards; Bouncers; Armored Car Guards, and Store Detectives

What Would I Do?

Security Guards watch, patrol, or monitor business premises, private property, or individuals in order to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules. They also protect property against fire, vandalism, and illegal entry.

Although the work can be different depending on the assignment, most Security Guard work is routine, tiring, and a bit dangerous. Some positions, such as those of armored car guards or jobs in high-crime neighborhoods, have a higher chance of injury and added stress. Some Guards work alone and at night in warehouses, banks, or other buildings closed to the public, while others work during the day to protect a building and its employees.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Security Guard will appeal to you if you have a social and enterprising nature. Social occupations involve working with, communicating, and teaching people. Enterprising jobs involve starting up and carrying out projects. They can involve leading people and making many decisions.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2021 for Security Guards in California was $33,646 annually, or $16.17 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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The amount of benefits paid to full-time Security Guards varies by geographic area and employer. Companies in larger cities tend to pay more of the cost of medical insurance. Security Guards employed by schools, retail stores, hotels, or government agencies usually receive medical, dental, and vision insurance, vacation pay, and sick leave. Contract or temporary agencies vary in the amount of benefits paid.

What is the Job Outlook?

Opportunities for Security Guards should be favorable in the coming years. This stems from the demand for increased security and from the need to replace those who leave this large occupation each year.

How Do I Qualify?

Although most employers will accept trainees, many prefer applicants who have had previous military police or Guard experience. Those who have taken classes in law enforcement or who have experience in public contact work are also favored. Security firms generally require workers to have their own cell phone and car.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Most Security Guards work in security-related industries, which can be searched by checking firms listed in the telephone directory yellow pages.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Security Guards