How Much Can I Make as a Security Guard?

According to current information compiled on a leading online job site, licensed New York state security guards earn an average of $12.53 per hour (slightly higher for Manhattan at $12.83/hour).  For a full-time guard, that amounts to a little over $26,000 per year which is 11% above the national average for security guards.   As increases in NY state minimum wage kick-in at the end of 2018, hourly rates at the bottom of the scale will increase.  For example, minimum wage for NYC companies with 11 or more employees will increase to $15/hour.  Those with 10 or fewer will increase from $12 to $13.50.   

Overtime, of course, increases your hourly rate as does working night shifts, which command a 10-15% wage premium.   

These averages reflect wages primarily for basic, non-supervisory positions with limited work experience.  As you gain experience with added supervisory responsibility, you can expect to earn more, particularly if you work in a large organization with many more opportunities for advancement.  A Security Manager/Administrator with 5+ years of work experience and responsible for managing, assigning and briefing many security guards can expect to earn over $55,000/year.  With this role comes administrative duties requiring time management and communication skills.  As such, a minimum 2-year Associates’s degree is preferred by employers.   

Further training and certifications can help you boost your earning potential.  Security guards with a background in law enforcement, the military and hold a NY armed guard license can earn over $30/hour.   OSHA certifications, CPR training and NYFD Fire Guard licenses (there are over 10 types) help you stand out from the crowd.  They’ll also help you earn a bit more. 

Bottom line, in your day to day job duties, being personable, resourceful, a good communicator and problem solver will go a long way in proving your value to your employer and help you advance your career.

Actionable Advice for Earning More

Large companies better for long-term earning potential.  Being more likely to hire a candidate without work experience, small companies are excellent channels for obtaining initial work experience.  However, if the company is not in a growth mode, advancement opportunities may be limited.   Large companies, on the other hand, offer excellent managerial training programs with many more opportunities for advancement over the long-term.

Earn more with a degree.  If you really like security work, but feel advancement opportunities are limited with your high school diploma, consider pursuing an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  There are many such excellent programs available at NYC community colleges and 4-year bachelor degree programs. 

Get additional licenses and certifications.  For construction site security assignments, OSHA training is essential.  CPR certification and fire guard licenses will also increase your value in the marketplace. 

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