Understanding Security Guard Levels (Security Guard Ranks)

Security Guard Levels

Understanding the Ranking System in the Security Field

In the security field, ranking systems differ depending on the company. Generally, however, ranks range from watchman at the lowest rank to commander or chief at the highest rank. Here are the rankings and their meanings. Security officers may also have differing titles.

Unarmed Security Guards

Unarmed security guards typically have a lower training requirement and do not carry firearms. Unarmed security guard rankings are described below.


A watchman is an entry-level security guard whose duties consist of watching only one location or position. A watchman typically does not carry any self-defense weapons or devices and is not able to stop intruders or other incidents from happening. A watchman has the lowest amount of training and is paid the least of any ranking.

Security Guard

A security guard is a level above a watchman and is still an entry-level position. A security guard has a larger scope of duties than a watchman but still does not carry any self-defense weapons. Security guards tend to receive lower pay and have lower training requirements.

Unarmed Security Officer

An unarmed security officer is an entry-level position that requires 80 hours of training and/or a college degree, and can carry self-defense weapons, but not firearms. An unarmed security officer can work in larger areas and has more responsibilities than a security guard or watchman. Unarmed security officers are also paid more.

Armed Security Guard Rankings

Unlike unarmed security personnel, armed security personnel are trained in and can carry firearms. Because the risks of carrying firearms are greater than other weapons, armed security guards typically require more training and receive higher pay than those who are unarmed. Armed security guard rankings are described below.

Armed Security Officer

An armed security officer is generally paid more than an unarmed security officer. An armed security officer has similar responsibilities to an unarmed security officer, although they are trained in the use of firearms in addition to other self-defense weapons. Because of the ability to carry firearms, an armed officer has a higher training requirement than an unarmed security officer.

Public Safety Officer

A public safety officer is an entry-level security officer that has a greater number of responsibilities than a security officer. A public safety officer has a higher training requirement, including a college degree and training in law enforcement. They receive higher pay and are the highest-paying level of all the levels below the senior security officer. Some public safety officers have higher levels of training in advanced firearms.

Senior Security Officer

A senior security officer has more experience in the field of security; therefore, a senior security officer is paid more and has more training. A senior security officer is sometimes able to train other security personnel in lower ranks but are generally not given the ability to manage others or supervise them. Many senior security officers are also trained in emergency services, so they can assist in emergency situations as well as security-related situations.


A sergeant is a supervisor to lower-ranking security personnel. They typically have more experience and training than a senior security officer and can manage and supervise others.


A corporal has even more training and experienced than senior security officers. They are generally tasked with managing supervisors. They are also responsible for training supervisors and other security personnel.


A lieutenant is even more highly trained and higher-paid. A lieutenant acts as a middleman between higher command levels and lower-ranking levels. Also, a lieutenant may assist the higher levels of command with certain tasks as an assistant.

Captain or Director

A captain or director is the director or manager for a certain location’s security personnel. A captain or director oversees all the lower ranks of supervisors, officers, and security guards.

Major, Lieutenant Commander, or Deputy Chief

This position can be called by any of the titles major, lieutenant commander, or deputy chief. It is a higher-level management or director position. An individual in this position is responsible for managing and supervising a regional group of locations or a security department for a company. This position is directly below the position of commander or chief, so someone in this position may also assist the commander or chief with administrative tasks.

Commander or Chief

This position may be known as either commander or chief, depending on the company’s security hierarchy. A commander or chief is the director of all security personnel within an organization, agency, or company. A commander or chief is responsible for managing and directing all lower ranks of security personnel.

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