Bodyguard – How to Become One
(…and why you should probably do it, too. For a while. Not forever. )
What is a Bodyguard?
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve got a pretty good idea, but if you haven’t, we’ll go ahead and enlighten you. Here’s the “official” definition for you:
A bodyguard (or close protection officer) is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person or persons — usually a public, wealthy, or politically important figure(s) — from danger: generally theft, assault, kidnapping, homicide, harassment, loss of confidential information, threats, or other criminal offences. (Wikipedia)
That says it all, doesn’t it? Not quite. There’re still nuances that a couple of sentences off Wikipedia can’t really help you with, and we’re not even getting started on the “how to” yet. There’s one thing you have to keep in mind before we start; there are bodyguards and then there are Law Enforcement Officers, such as the Secret Service and so on. Here, we’re going to concentrate on becoming a bodyguard without being a LEO. There. Let’s get going, shall we?
Unlike our page on How to Become a Mercenary, we thought we’d say a couple of words on unreliable sources here, because far, far more people become bodyguards each day than mercenaries, and that means that the information becomes diluted and pretty worn around the edges after a while. So who can you trust on what the best path to being a bodyguard is?
Well… us, of course. But that’s a given. Wink.
Official sources are usually good. If you want to dig through government criteria, laws and regulations, training and examination and certifications criteria and whatnot else, go ahead.
People you know that are in the biz. Then again, if you had those, why would you come here? If you have friends who are bodyguards and you’re still reading this, you can probably stop and go call your buddy instead. He/she will be much more up to date on the specifics for your neck of the woods.
Here’s a bad source for info on how to become a bodyguard: AskMen.com. They’ve actually got a page called almost the same as this one, but it’s still nothing like it. Don’t listen to;
- Pompous Australians who think they’re “high-level security”.
- Anyone working in security who will actually say this to a high traffic website;
Females take pleasure in being in the company of a highly trained security professional, especially when they get their protection for free.
- “Professional” bodyguards willing to take a bullet for 50 bucks (per hour… but what if it goes down in the first hour, huh?).
Becoming a Bodyguard – The Why’s
A lot of little boys around the world have seen bodyguards on the TV some time or another, and fantasized about what that would be like. Black suit, sunglasses, earwig and the gun under your jacket… but why would you risk your life for someone else, really?
To be honest, the bodyguard game is a waiting game. 99 times out of 100, nothing at all will happen. You’re there because your client has had a risk analysis done, and he or she’s been told that there’s a better chance of someone taking a shot at them than at anyone else currently on the same street. So things, in short, can be very dull.
But! You’re in the best spot around if you really want to be there when something does happen. And when stuff happens on a bodyguard’s watch, it’s usually not the small stuff, either. Someone’s gonna take shots at you (well… at the guy or gal standing behind you / who’s pinned underneath you, whatever the case might be), stuff’s gonna blow up, there’ll be car chases… you get the idea.
Kind of the same thing as the above, but a little bit nicer. Professional bodyguards do a lot of travelling, and we do mean a lot. So if you’ve got a bit of a tingling in your seat, and want to see a little more of the world than just your old neighborhood every day, then this job might be for you. Or being a mercenary, whatever takes your fancy.
Being a bodyguard is a lot of responsibility. Breaking it down, you’re responsible for someone else’s survival in a hairy situation, and that situation might go on for years on end. Planning events, planning travel, routes to and from home, planning security details, planning security systems, planning physical security and backup solutions, backup routes, backup personnel… it’s all a part of the job. There’s a lot more paperwork and administration to being a bodyguard than most people realize, and you really do need to have both a knack and a want for that. On top of everything else.
Becoming a bodyguard – The How’s
- Foreign Languages. Learning to speak something else in addition to your native language is never a minus. Take the time and the effort to actually learn how to get by in German, French, Arabic, Russian or other large languages, and you’re well on your way – further, in fact, than you might think. If you’re reading this, you probably already know English, but if you somehow don’t, then learn that too. If you’ve got a country in mind that you want to go to, or a company that has specific country need that you want to work for, learn that language, be it Norwegian, Dutch, Polish, or whatever else.
There are several good language learning resources out there, among the best are Rosetta Stone, a computer program designed to have you learn a new language the “natural way”, i.e. like you learned your own language back in the day, focusing on Chinese, Spanish, Italian and French. That’s just a small selection of resources online, but if you’re serious about learning a new language, the paid services are worlds better than free “learn-a-phrase” sites. You should invest the time and small amount of cash required.
- Get in Shape. Getting in shape can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to. If you set your mind to it, and have a firm goal, that makes everything easier. If you’re overweight, you should consider WeightWatchers as a starting point. If you want to get straight on to training, then you need another starting point, like your local gym. Gyms can be expensive to join, and they’re really not always worth the money, so if you feel confident, you can try buying your own equipment (yours for life, and no more wiping off other people’s sweat from the gear). That means you would have to have somewhere to use it as well…
Getting in shape is imperative. In most cases, you will need to meet strict requirements and complete rigorous test in order to be accepted in military institutions, law enforcement agencies, and as a bodyguard. You will need to be able to show off, brag about yourself and then be able to back it up with your physique. A boot-camp style training regime is recommended.
Getting in shape doesn’t just mean your body. It means your head as well. You will need to train your head just as much as your body, getting in the mindset of what you are about to do, what your goal is and what you are getting yourself into. A bodyguard can’t crack at a little pressure, and close protection, executive protection or being a bodyguard – whatever you choose to call it, is bound to entail a great deal of pressure on the old noggin.
- Law Enforcement Background. Military background can be a good starting point if you want to be a bodyguard, but the civilian side of things is much more important. You won’t be needing combat training to any great extent, and administrative skills, planning and management is a much better idea than rushing headlong into a “battle”. Not that all military guys are hotheads… but you know what we mean. Being a bodyguard is all about avoiding the hard situations, and not engaging in a fight. Ideally, you want the fight to never happen at all.
Most bodyguards out there today have some kind of law enforcement background – even if it’s only a couple of years. On top of that, you’ll definitely need specialized training – and that’s probably going to cost you money. That said, you should get ahead of the crowd a little bit, and read up on a few things. Here’s a few suggestions;
There’s a natural progression in that list, too. It goes from basic close protection skills, with The Modern Bodyguard, through the “softer skills”, and all the way into security planning, with “Bodyguards – How to protect others”.
- Certifications. Security certifications come in many shapes and sizes, and a quick online search for certification as a bodyguard returns a ton of hits. A security certification of some kind is absolutely a good place to start for anyone who wants to be a bodyguard, but be careful which company and/or institution you trust. Some of them might actually lower your standing in the eyes of a prospective employer, since there’s a lot of shady business out there.
Check out ASIS International instead – they don’t deal with bodyguards specifically, but getting a certification in physical security, or security management is a giant leap towards a serious career in both security and close protection, along with opening a lot of other doors that you might not have considered.
Questions and comments?
We’ve far from written all there is to know about becoming a bodyguard or working in close protection or executive protection here. Hell, there are 4 whole books mentioned just a couple of paragraphs up. So if you’ve got questions, comments, suggestions, arguments and whatnot else, leave a comment down below! Remember our newsletter, and don’t forget to click that Facebook button!