Working in security can be both rewarding, fun and exciting – there are very few industries where you have variety, challenge and action on this kind of level. But, picking your specialization, should you want to do that, isn’t always easy. Today, we’re looking at one of the most sought after jobs in security – being a bodyguard. How do you become a bodyguard, and why would you want to? We know both those things, and after this, you will too.
What’s a Bodyguard, anyway?
As always, WikiPedia has a pretty good definition for you:
A bodyguard (or close protection officer) is a type of security guard or government law enforcement officer or soldier who protects a person or people — usually high-ranking public officials or officers, wealthy people, and celebrities — from danger: generally theft, assault, kidnapping, assassination, harassment, loss of confidential information, threats, or other criminal offences. The group of personnel who protect a VIP are often referred to as the VIP’s security detail.
In security, there are several “levels”, and while WikiPedia says a bodyguard is a kind of security guard, that is technically correct but frightfully inaccurate. A security guard works on “low level” security, which isn’t the same as low importance, by the way. The lower levels build up the higher levels, and without the “low level” security personell, the “high levels” have nothing to build on, stand on and receive support from.
A bodyguard is “high level” security, meaning that they work with higher risks, but also on a much narrower scope than the lower levels. Ideally, a lot of security levels will have to be breached for the bodyguard to see any kind of work besides standing around and being ready for that work, and that’s why low levels are (perhaps at least) as important as the higher levels.
What do bodyguards actually do?
Not what you might think. There aren’t a lot of high speed chases, firefights, brawls and James Bond type stuff. The professional bodyguard does most of his job when nothing is going on, preventing things from actually happening. This usually includes working closely with their employer or subject, planning travel, routes, preventive measures, searching rooms and mapping escape routes, and a lot of paperwork and background checking of people their employer or subject is going to have meetings with.
It is true that being a bodyguard can be both dangerous, lucrative and glamorous, but most of the time, it is none of those things. Well, except the middle one, perhaps – professional, efficient bodyguards are often paid very well, no matter where in the world they operate.
Being prepared for long, tedious days of planning and paperwork, interviews and at times, inactivity while still being prepared for the worst, is one of the main challenges to any kind of bodyguard, anywhere.
Why would you want to be a Bodyguard?
In any job, it’s the prospects that drive us. Whether it’s money – a banker or stock broker might be driven solely by those things, or fame – artists or singers or actors, or it’s the action, the suspense and putting your own safety and perhaps even life on the line – like a mercenary, the drive needs to be there.
Working in security is no different – most high level security staff has followed that path in order to make a difference, to perhaps save a life, or more, and to make sure the “bad guys” don’t win when they’re on the job. The tediousness of planning and making sure that the “back end” is working flawlessly is certainly a part of that satisfaction, and seeing it completed and your employer or subject safe at the end of another day, is the ultimate reward.
That, and the paycheck, obviously. In the US, a bodyguard’s salary will usually start upwards of 40,000 USD, and continue up through six figure numbers. In comparison, a “low level” security guard will earn somewhere between 18,000 and 38,000 USD, while a “private military contractor” (we call it a mercenary around here) can earn from 180,000 to 270,000 USD per year.
Being a bodyguard requires a greater dedication to security and the profession than most other branches of the industry. Do you have what it takes?
Bodyguard – How to Become One
“Close protection training”: There are a lot of schools and institutions, as well as companies, who provide several levels of close protection training and education. In most cases, a single course like this isn’t enough to call yourself a bodyguard, but you’re a step along the way.
Many companies look for other qualifications than just tactical training and physical fitness and your weapons or martial arts qualifications. Some companies even prefer people with some kind of psychology training, since they will often and more readily identify a person who might be a threat, than others.
Choosing your education is key. Find a security education with the correct credentials for your country or state, or train to be a police officer. Supplementing close protection and security management to a police training is one of the better ways to go about it.
“On the job training” isn’t really all that available for bodyguards – in the most extreme scenarios, you only have one attempt at success or failure, naturally. And the worst case scenario is always the one we’re planning for, right?
So here’s a quick run-down:
1: Find your training. Law enforcement + close protection + security management.
2: Supplement your training. Tactical training, weapons, close combat.
3: Supplement your training. Psychology/psychiatry.
4: Experience. Law enforcement, or private security.
5: Find your ideal employer, and go for it. Always remember what Shia says.