Private security professionals are given serious responsibilities including protecting people against fire, theft, vandalism, online threats and terrorism. Skills to help address these issues are in demand as private security firms take over some of the work previously handled by law enforcement..
A recent study found that the U.S. security industry has grown to a $350 billion market, with the number of full-time security workers estimated to be between 1.9 and 2.1 million. The most popular jobs in the field such as private detective/investigator and IT specialists are expected to grow 22 percent through 2020.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects a steady job growth for the profession between 2012 and 2022. During that time period, the BLS expects that 130,200 new jobs will be added in the private security field. These new jobs will include positions at large companies, hotels and retailers.
These positions can also help someone to prepare for a career in public law enforcement jobs, said Tom Bondi, Criminal Justice Program Chair at Westwood College’s DuPage Campus. Skills learned in private security − how to interact with people, how to defuse potentially troublesome situations − are important skills sets in law enforcement, he added.
“Overall job opportunities are excellent, especially for private security guards. It is really a wide-open field, and is much more than the typical mall security guard,” said Bondi, former deputy chief at the Village of Woodridge Police Department. “The jobs themselves are varied and cover asset protection, personal protection, system security and loss prevention.”
Bondi also adds there is more competition for the higher paying positions that require more training and experience.
Through Westwood College’s criminal justice bachelor’s and associate degree programs at its four Chicago area campuses, students can acquire hands-on experience relevant to a career in private security through classes in policing, criminal law, corrections, juvenile justice, and private security in addition to general education classes that help students learn how to effectively communicate – an essential skill for criminal justice professionals.
Private security officers should have integrity, vigilance and helpfulness, in addition to a strong focus on customer service, Bondi said. Also, employers are likely to run background checks on potential candidates, so a clean criminal record is critical. Illinois requires security guards to take training to receive a Permanent Employee Registration Card (P.E.R.C.) required for unarmed or armed security professionals. For anyone in Illinois to purchase, own, possess, or carry a firearm, they are required to have a Firearm Owner Identification (F.O.I.D.) card.
According to the BLS, security guards earned a median average salary of $24,020. The best paid earned about $42,490.
For more information on Westwood College’s Criminal Justice Program, visit: http://www.westwood.edu/programs/school-of-justice.
About Westwood College
Westwood College is an institution of higher learning with 14 campuses located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia. Westwood offers a hands-on, career-focused curriculum in fields such as healthcare, technology and business. Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). A 2012 survey conducted by Noel-Levitz showed Westwood students are significantly more satisfied than the comparison group of approximately 125 public and private colleges, particularly in the areas of course content, quality of instruction and the school meeting their career goals. For more information, visit westwood.edu.
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Phil Smith, 303-846-1816