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Top Paying Security Officer Jobs in the United States

7 minute read

By Hayley Harrison

  • Top-paying security officer jobs pay up to $69,000 per year.
  • Security officers work in a wide variety of industries.
  • Generally only a high school diploma or GED is necessary for security officer jobs.
  • Security officers may need a license to carry a weapon while on the job in some states.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the need for security guards and officers will increase by 15% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the anticipated rate of employment growth for other industries. The average salaries earned by security officers differ based on geographic location, job duties, education and experience. Those looking for the highest-paid security officer jobs can consider the following careers.

Protection Officer

Protection officers make $26,000 to $69,000 per year. Their primary responsibility is to protect a building, its occupants and property contained around and in it from theft, vandalism and other threats. They may work during business hours as well as overnight and on weekends.

When incidents occur during their shifts, protection officers respond and attempt to de-escalate and control the situation while waiting for law enforcement to arrive. Employers generally require protection officers to complete paperwork describing the situation that unfolded, so attention to detail and good written communication skills are important for success in the role.


Facility Security Officer

The salary range for a facility security officer or FSO is $22,500 to $63,000 per year. Facility security officers typically protect large buildings, such as offices of private companies or government buildings. Their job duties include maintaining entry logs that detail who visited their facilities. They may also be responsible for tracking the entry and exit times of employees, making strong interpersonal skills an important qualification for FSO jobs.

Many facility security officers work at stations equipped with security camera monitors. Vigilance and the ability to multitask are vital to successfully tracking the action on multiple screens while also interacting with people arriving and leaving the facility. In some cases, security officers work with management to develop and modify security protocols.


Security Escort

Security escorts earn about $33,500 to $52,000 per year. They usually work in buildings and facilities where access to one or more areas is heavily restricted and limited only to authorized personnel and preapproved visitors.

Due to these high-security standards, security escorts may check ID cards and conduct searches for weapons and dangerous items using metal detectors and physical pat-down techniques. Interpersonal skills are necessary to ensure that people comply but do not feel intimidated or violated.

In some facilities, security escorts physically walk visitors and employees to their destinations. Generally, security escorts are scheduled to work whenever the building is open. This may mean that they have night, overnight, weekend and holiday shifts.


Plant Protection Officer

The salary range for plant protection officers is roughly $29,000 to $52,000 per year. Plant protection officers typically serve as security guards in industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Like other types of security officers, their main responsibility is to protect people and property. However, the nature of their environment means additional responsibilities. Plant protection officers must look for signs of internal theft and take action when they suspect employees are stealing materials, tools or finished products from the plant.

They may also need to carefully screen visitors to prevent corporate espionage, a crime where one company attempts to learn another company’s trade secrets. The ability to remain vigilant, think critically and make quick decisions are important characteristics for plant protection officers.


Safety and Security Officer

Safety and security officers make about $27,000 to $42,000 per year and often work in industrial and manufacturing settings. In most cases, these security professionals perform all of the job duties of protection officers or facility security officers plus additional responsibilities related to employee safety. For example, they may be required to monitor whether employees use mandatory personal protective equipment while on the job.

Alternatively, safety and security officers may work as guards but have specialized training in emergency response. They may be expected to quickly take action if a fire occurs or an employee becomes injured on the job. This type of safety and security officer may also lead or coordinate evacuations in the event of a fire, tornado or other emergencies.


Security Control Center Operator

Security control center operators earn roughly $27,000 to $42,000 annually. These security officers typically work in very large buildings, such as shopping malls, airports, casinos, hospitals and skyscraper office buildings. They spend most of their days seated in front of screens, monitoring closed-circuit television (CCTV) feeds.

Depending on their employer’s safety procedures, security control center operators may respond directly when they see a potential problem, or they may dispatch other security officers to respond to the threat. Success working as a security control center operator requires the ability to sit for long periods of time while remaining focused and to concentrate on multiple tasks at once.


Armed Guard

The salary range for armed guards is $27,000 to $37,500 per year. This job title most often refers to a protection officer or facility security officer who carries some type of weapon, such as a billy club, Taser or firearm.

Instead of protecting buildings like banks and government offices, armed guards may oversee the transport of money and other valuables in specially designed vehicles called armored cars. When a dangerous situation occurs, armed guards are authorized to use force to protect people or property. However, they must adhere to strict guidelines regarding when it is acceptable to use force. Good judgment and the ability to remain calm under extreme pressure are vital to success in armed guard jobs.


Security Flex Utility Officer

Security flex utility officers earn approximately $25,000 to $35,000 per year. Normally, these individuals patrol a given area, such as a neighborhood, mall, power plant or public park.

To protect people and property, the officers typically make rounds, walking the property and looking for suspicious activity. In some cases, they may be called to respond to situations observed by security control center operators.

Generally, security flex utility officers must be able to stand and walk for long periods of time. They often work nights, weekends and holidays and may need to be outside in extreme temperatures and harsh weather.


Custom Protection Officer

Custom protection officers earn approximately $28,500 to $34,500 per year and usually work for contractors that provide services to the federal government and private organizations. These employers may only hire individuals with previous security officer job experience or post-secondary training in security.

Specific job duties for custom protection officers vary based on the setting. They may patrol areas, monitor security screens, sign in visitors and conduct searches. Often, they must keep detailed records and logs regarding activities that take place during their shifts.


Nuclear Security Officer

Nuclear security officers typically earn $27,000 to $34,000 annually and provide security for nuclear power facilities. Their job duties are similar to those of facility security officers, but also include responding to emergency situations related to system failures and malfunctions that could result in a serious nuclear accident.

Some facilities also require nuclear security officers to monitor employee activities and take action or write reports when individuals aren’t following safety protocols. A basic understanding of nuclear power is often needed to gain employment.


Event Security Officer

The average annual salary range for event security officers is $22,000 to $31,000. They provide security for concerts, conventions and other events that are ticketed or open to the public. Before events, the security officers ensure that only authorized individuals enter. They may check bags for weapons and contraband or monitor metal detectors.

Once the event begins, the security officers watch the crowd to look for dangerous and illegal activities. They may also need to respond if an attendee experiences a medical emergency.


Qualifications and Training for Security Officer Jobs

Generally, a high school diploma or equivalent is needed to gain employment. Some community colleges and trade schools offer courses and certificate programs for security officers. Completing post-secondary training may allow them to earn more money as an officer.

Employers typically run criminal background checks before or after conducting an interview, and candidates must usually undergo fingerprinting for these checks.

Specialized certification and licensing are also necessary for some security officer positions, especially ones that involve carrying a firearm or other weapons. States develop their own guidelines regarding requirements for security officer licensing and certification. Prospective security officers may need to complete a training course approved by the state, pass a written or skills examination or both, depending on the state.


Hayley Harrison


Hayley Harrison is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh, she changed gears and pursued a career in banking. In 2002, she began producing financial literacy articles, and eventually moved to writing full-time on a variety of subjects, including health, food, travel and career planning.


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