Security Guards and Related Occupations - What They Do

Security guards and workers in related security service occupations guard and implement security measures to protect property against theft, vandalism and fire, control access to establishments, maintain order and enforce regulations at public events and within establishments, conduct private investigations for clients or employers and provide other protective services not elsewhere classified. They are employed by public or private security agencies, residential complexes, educational, cultural, financial and health institutions, retail establishments, businesses and industry, investigation service companies, transportation facilities, and organizations throughout the private and public sectors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

Security guards

  • Control access to establishments, operate security control-room equipment and patrol assigned areas to guard against theft, vandalism and fire
  • Enforce regulations to maintain order and resolve conflicts and to monitor establishment activities
  • Ensure safety and emergency procedures are followed
  • Issue passes and direct visitors to appropriate areas, check age identification of patrons, and perform security checks of passengers and luggage at airports.

Armoured car guards

  • Drive and guard armoured trucks, pick-up and deliver cash and valuables to banks, automated teller machines and retail establishments.

Corporate security officers

  • Investigate unlawful acts of employees or patrons of establishments
  • Recommend security systems such as electronic detection devices and access devices.

Private investigators

  • Conduct investigations to locate missing persons
  • Obtain information for use in civil and criminal litigation matters or for other purposes
  • May also conduct polygraph tests (integrity surveys) for clients.

Retail loss prevention officers

  • Prevent and detect shoplifting and theft in retail establishments.

Job titles

  • corporate security officer
  • private security officer
  • gate attendant - security
  • airport security guard
  • armoured car guard
  • security guard
  • preboarding security guard
  • postal inspection officer
  • store detective
  • house detective
  • alarm investigator
  • night guard
  • automatic teller machine (ATM) guard
  • private investigator
  • retail loss prevention officer
  • theft prevention officer
  • bodyguard (except police)
  • commissionaire
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • A college diploma in law and security or police technology may be required.
  • Training is provided for airport security guards and establishment-specific training may be provided for security occupations in this unit group.
  • Security guards carrying firearms require a licence.
  • Armoured car drivers require a Valid Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) and a Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) for both restricted and non-restricted firearms.
  • In Quebec, a permit issued by the Sûreté du Québec is required to work as a private detective or security officer.
  • Corporate security officers may require experience as a police officer.
  • Private investigators require provincial licensure.
  • Responsible beverage service certification is usually required for security staff in establishments serving alcoholic beverages.

Essential Skills


  • Read logbook entries and short notes, e.g. read logbook entries and short notes from co-workers to learn about events that occurred during other shifts. (1)
  • Read short instructions on forms, e.g. read short instructions to learn how to complete incident report forms. (1)
  • Read short reports, e.g. read short reports to learn the details of security incidents. (2)
  • Read information sheets, e.g. read information sheets to learn security and surveillance techniques for underpasses and tunnels. (2)
  • Read email and memos, e.g. read email messages and memos from supervisors to learn about changes to operating procedures and schedules. (2)
  • Read instructions and best practice procedures, e.g. read emergency response procedures to learn how to correctly respond to medical emergencies, fires, hazardous material spills, bomb threats, hostage situations, storms, gas leaks and acts of terrorism. (2)
  • Read security alerts and bulletins, e.g. read detailed security bulletins issued by police departments to learn about potential terrorist threats and how to report suspicious activities. (3)
  • Read equipment and operating manuals, e.g. read operating manuals for the set-up and use of electronic surveillance equipment. (3)
  • May read regulations, e.g. read sections of the Trespass Act to learn which premises are covered by the legislation. (4)

Document use

  • Locate data in lists and logs, e.g. locate the names of authorized visitors, dates and times of incidents in daily logs. (1)
  • Enter data into daily logs, e.g. enter data, such as equipment identification numbers, times, odometer readings, addresses and locations, into log books. (1)
  • Complete a variety of forms, e.g. enter information, such as names, dates and times, in incident report forms. (2)
  • May interpret maps and floor plans, e.g. interpret floor plans to locate entrances, exits and security threats. (2)
  • May study images generated by security cameras and scanners, e.g. study X-ray images produced by scanners to locate prohibited goods, such as knives, explosives and firearms. (2)


  • Write reminder notes to themselves about tasks to be completed. (1)
  • Write short notes to co-workers, e.g. write short notes to co-workers to inform them about faulty video display units. (1)
  • Write short text passages in log books, e.g. describe noteworthy incidents in log books at the end of shifts. (2)
  • Enter comments on a variety of forms, e.g. write comments in fire alarm and police statement forms. (2)
  • May write detailed accounts of incidents, e.g. write detailed accounts of events involving people in distress, violence, thefts and security breaches. (3)


  • May pay for cash-on-delivery parcels and receive change. (1)
  • May record totals of denominations of money delivered to banks or bank machines by armoured cars, keeping separate totals for American or other foreign currency. (1)
  • May measure distances at accident and crime scenes. (1)
  • Estimate the height and weight of people. (1)
  • May calculate summary statistics, e.g. calculate the number of false alarms received each month. (2)
  • Estimate the extent of damage at accident and crime scenes. (2)

Oral communication

  • Make and listen to announcements over two-way radios. (1)
  • Talk to suppliers and delivery personnel, e.g. talk to delivery personnel to determine the content of parcels. (1)
  • Talk to members of the public when providing access to a building or grounds. (1)
  • Exchange information with co-workers, e.g. speak with co-workers to coordinate activities and learn about incidents. (2)
  • Discuss building security with clients and building owners, e.g. discuss security concerns and the features and limitations of electronic surveillance systems with building owners. (2)
  • Provide detailed descriptions of events and people, e.g. provide police officers with detailed accounts of events that occurred during robberies. (3)
  • Defuse and de-escalate confrontations with hostile and uncooperative people, e.g. use appropriate language, gestures and tone of voice to de-escalate potentially violent situations. (3)


  • May choose routes, areas and locations to patrol. (1)
  • Locate phone numbers of tradespersons and contractors by looking in phone directories and by conducting online research. (1)
  • Encounter equipment malfunctions, such as faulty electronic surveillance systems. They attempt to troubleshoot faults and repair the equipment. If unsuccessful, they contact supervisors and repair technicians and stand by for further instructions. (2)
  • Encounter hostile and uncooperative people. They attempt to ensure the security of themselves and bystanders. They seek the assistance of co-workers and police officers as required. (2)
  • Decide the order of tasks and their priorities, e.g. decide the order in which to conduct security sweeps using the best available information. (2)
  • Evaluate the operating condition of equipment, e.g. evaluate the operation of surveillance equipment by considering factors, such as the quality and usefulness of images and recordings. (2)
  • Deal with routine operations and make rounds to respond to emergency situations, e.g. deal with intruders or major equipment failures. Planning is usually short term. Most situations, even emergencies, involve well-established procedures. (2)
  • Refer to floor plans and conduct security sweeps to obtain information about exits and fire doors. (2)
  • Locate security and repair procedures by looking in a variety of manuals and by speaking with suppliers and co-workers. (2)
  • Encounter emergencies, e.g. encounter people experiencing medical emergencies. They deliver appropriate first aid measures and contact emergency responders at the earliest opportunity. They continue with their first aid measures until emergency responders arrive. (3)
  • Choose security and emergency response measures, e.g. decide how to safely and effectively contend with suspicious activities, intruders and thefts. (3)
  • Evaluate safety and security threats. They consider the behaviour of people and the risks to property and bystanders. They observe the location of exits and take note of burned out lights, blocked emergency exits and other potential hazards. (3)
  • Evaluate the severity of emergencies. They evaluate the condition of people in physical and emotional distress to determine the most appropriate course of action. (3)

Digital technology

  • Use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as summing the value of bank deposits. (1)
  • May use electronic surveillance equipment to monitor codes, alarm systems, buildings and the activities of people. (1)
  • May use X-ray scanners and metal detectors to locate prohibited goods, such as knives, explosives and firearms, in packages and concealed under clothing. (1)
  • May use word processing software to prepare reports. (2)
  • May use databases to retrieve client information, such as names, addresses and telephone numbers. (2)
  • May use specialized security databases to retrieve previously completed incident reports and input new ones. (2)
  • May use communication software to exchange email with clients, building owners and co-workers. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access security alerts and bulletins issued by police departments and other security organizations. (2)
  • May use specialized Internet applications to complete and submit electronic incident reports. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by trainers, suppliers, colleges, employers and associations. (2)
  • May use electronic surveillance equipment to produce VHS, CD-ROM and DVD copies of surveillance footage captured by security cameras. (2)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Security guards and workers in related occupations work independently, sometimes at night and sometimes in an isolated location, such as a construction site. They sometimes work with a partner, when, for instance, delivering money to a bank. They may be part of a team that includes co-workers and supervisors.