Security Jobs

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 - Security Jobs

Security Jobs

One of the fastest expanding sector of the employment market is Security Jobs. Why? Because there is an excess supply of ex-Military personnel coming onto the employment market, and secondly the combined expansion in both disorder in the UK (from clubs and bars to petty stealing and crime), and the resultant crack-down from both local councils and the national government.

So, what does it take to get a Security Job?

Security jobs and careers

There are a wide variety of careers in the security industry. The major categories (which align with licensing) are:

  • Cash & Valuables in Transit
  • Close Protection
  • Door Supervisors
  • Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)
  • Security Guards
  • Key Holding
  • Vehicle Immobilisers

There are also unregulated postions outside of this, in sales, security assessment, systems development and instalation, or crime awareness advice.

Size of the UK security industry

Trying to assess the size and scale of the UK security industry is difficult, beyond those who currently are licensed:

  • There are just over 150,000 police officers in the UK
  • Official SIA figures suggest that there are presently over 200,000 licensed private/non-police security operatives in the UK, effectively doubling the size/scale of the UK police force. This figure currently grows at around 3% per annum
  • There are between 10,000 and 18,000 professional security managers operating in the UK security industry, assigned by companies to define security and manage thrid-party contractors
  • Taking into account associated industries and trades, there could be inexcess of 500,000 people in the UK security industry, or around 2% of the UK’s active workforce

However, be aware of the spread of these jobs. In 2006, Paul Osborne then of Cranfield University, regionally mapped the distribution of employment in the UK Security Industry. This showed that the three biggest markets of London, the Midlands and the Southeast made up just under 60% of total employment, with London alone close to 20%. Some how, this deployment of resource doesn’t match population data, but I’ll leave that for others to assess why.

How to get a Security Job

To get a Security Job in the UK, you need to undertake a defined and highly regulated path. This is managed by the Security Industry Association, a Home Office offshoot/quango

  1. You need to be physically fit, and be able to prove it
  2. You need to get training: a minimum of 30hrs for each area, you can find precise details here on the SIA website
  3. You need to get licensed: there are various levels of SIA licensing, starting at Door Supervision and increasing upwards towards Cash & Valuables and Close Protection

Problems in getting Security Job

But here’s the problem: it can take between 6weeks and 6months for the SIA to clear you, even once you have gained your training. Yes, even for something as simple as door security. Then, if you don’t get cleared quick enough, you need to undertake your training again, as it will be out of date!

This common problem delay creates a seepage of trained security people:

  • They want to work in the security industry, so get trained
  • But it takes so long to get cleared, they find other employment

Affects of regulation on the security industry

Regulation has had a great deal of effect on the security industry. Comparing the market in 2000 to now in 2012, the combined affects of three pieces of legislation have changed what is still often a job working unsociable hours, into one which is easier for all to access, resulting now with between 15% and 20% of employees being women.

Firstly, central government regualtion through the Security Industry Association has resulted in a need for registration and training. Secondly the European derived Working Time Directive and Agency Workers Directives have moved many positions away from working excessive hours to an average working week of under 45hrs.

However, there are still dark sides to this industry. Many are still self-employed, and coersced to opt-out of the Working Time Directive. Secondly I know from personal experience that both the WTD and Minimum Wage regulations are often broken by companies paying workers less than minimum wage, and hence extending hours. It’s effectively a block-booking of time, that is then adjusted at the administration level to make all look legal!

Hence the most effective piece of legislation in the industry has been the Agency Workers Directive, which means that even though many are self-employed, they at least get paid when on rest periods and gain holidays. This is certainly one industry where unions and legislation have shown that they can combine further to affect better change, and will need to do so again into the future.

Employers in the security industry

The major employers in the security industry are:

  • G4S
  • Securitas
  • Chubb: specialise in systems, after selling people services to Securitas in 2011

Each has their own specific jobs portal, where various opportunities can be found. After this, the major palyers are mostly regional and/or small city based operators. Each has to license itself at the SIA, so before accepting a job interview let alone a job offer, check that that company is at leats registered at the SIA

(NB: I know temp agencies that still don’t do this before accepting a new job search brief! So be ware and do your checking, because it makes you look professional and hence employable)

So that’s a quick review of the security industry. The advantages are that as long as you are physically fit, and can read and write to undertake the required study, a lack of qualifications is not a block to employment. The disadvanatges are the mainly unsociable hours, and the personal risk – its not called security for nothing.

Good Luck!


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