Despite the size and wealth of today’s security employers, most security officers are paid poverty wages, have little to no benefits, and receive minimal training. The average pay for security officers is less than $23,000 a year.
Given such poor working conditions, few security officers stay on the job for long, resulting in an inexperienced, poorly trained pool of workers. A recent report on the private security services industry in the U.S. estimates that annual employee turnover in our industry still exceeds 100 percent for many security companies and can be as high as 300 to 400 percent for low-road contractors.
These turnover rates present a serious risk to public safety as private security officers are our nations front-line responders–often the first on a scene in many emergency situations.
The security industry’s “revolving door” approach means inexperienced officers often struggle to meet the demands of the job. More rigorous training standards would prepare officers to better deal with emergency situations, but too often this training is not offered.
Many of our fellow security officers report not receiving any training at all or inadequate and superficial training. Often, more experienced officers are asked to train new hires during work hours in a rushed manner. In addition, when officers are transferred to new locations, often they are not trained on the new site’s specific emergency procedures.
Right now, half of all US states lack any requirement for training for security officers, and 14 states require less than three days of general security officer training. And if security companies do not address the high turnover issue, any training gains are lost on the back-end as officers leave the profession for other higher paying jobs.
Despite the immense and growing size of the security industry and its impact on public safety, there are few local, state, or federal standards. Too often training is left in the hands of security contractors who want to keep costs to a minimum and put officers on the job quickly in order to overcome high turnover rates.
Given the vast disparity on basic requirements for private security officers from state to state, our movement to raise industry standards across the country is a key factor in keeping the public safe and secure.