Regardless of specialization or industry, the terms Security Enforcement Officer and Security Guard are often confused or misinterpreted. For many, these terms are simply refer to the same position. While terminology may not top the list as being the most important, when it comes to security guard management protocols, terms carry more weight than you think.
Oftentimes used colloquially, security guard and security officer titles may seem identical, but as with many things in life, not everything is as it seems. The differences between these similar titles is exasperated by state licensing agencies, which are notorious for using them interchangeably. So, what is the difference between a security enforcement officer and a security guard?
If you think of security guard and security officer titles as designating different levels within a similar role, security guards are lower on the totem pole than their officer counterparts. Generally, a security guard works under the direct supervision of a security officer. While both roles aim to safeguard and secure property and possessions, security guards often have less experience.
Unlike security enforcement officers, which typically require a greater amount of training, security guards aren’t generally required to pass strict security licensing or certification exams. Oftentimes, a security guard is only required to pass a health and fitness test. In terms of income, security guard positions are typically paid less than their more senior counterparts.
Lastly, the work environment of a security guard is more isolated to specific locations. For example, a security guard is generally charged with securing a specific entryway or segment of a commercial property. Of course, security officers perform this same duty, but are often responsible for high-level security or administrative roles.
As a security enforcement officer, you’re often charged with managing and supervising security guards. One of the most common misconceptions of this role is the levels of security they are permitted to perform. While some feel the only differing factor between a guard and officer is an officer may carry a firearm, this isn’t a rule or universal deciding factor.
Security enforcement officers take a more managerial role within the security team. They are often responsible for giving orders and overseeing the daily duties and functions of security guards. This position is also responsible for training new security guards and performing more intensive security enforcement techniques. Because of the increased responsibilities, security officers are paid more than their guard counterparts, which also means they typically require much more experience and training.
In terms of work environment, security enforcement officers may work in the field or in an office. When dispatched, officers are typically more mobile than guards, which is to say, officers cover greater areas and aren’t confined to a stationary post. If a security officer oversees a large number of guards, they will often move between each stationed guard to ensure their work and operation runs smoothly. Essentially, a security enforcement officer is more like a project manager charged with monitoring and managing security operations.