Security Guards vs. Security Officers: What’s the Difference?

Security Guard

Security Guards vs. Security Officers

Investing in security for your home or business is crucial for protecting your household, staff, and guests. However, when choosing a security company, you may find yourself feeling confused between security guards and security officers. While some people believe that the two are the same, they have nuances that separate them. For instance, a security guard can mean something entirely different depending on the industry or state you’re in, with each bearing specific duties.

Whether you need security services for an event or your business, you’ll need to know the difference between the two. Understanding the roles they fulfill will help you make the right decision for your situation. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between security guards and security officers:

All About Security Guards

People often use ‘security guard’ to talk about all security professionals. To the general public, uniformed personnel with a set of handcuffs and who aren’t under the local police department’s employment qualify as a security guard. However, there are a few nuances between officers and guards.

Security guards generally work under a security officer, so the notable difference lies in the hierarchical chain of command. Security guards are typically at the front line, fulfilling their duties of carrying out the lay work. Meanwhile, security officers handle more complex, grand scheme tasks.

Security guards often assume a stationary position, which is why they’re called “guards”—they’re watching over a specific place from one assigned area. If they have to conduct a roving patrol, they must follow a well-defined route or patrol area to watch for any suspicious behavior. They’re also in charge of preventing or responding to theft, disturbances, or other instances of criminal behavior.

Some people believe that security guards aren’t allowed to carry a weapon and that this right is reserved for security officers. However, this isn’t true; each state has its respective laws and requirements for armed security professionals.

All About Security Officers

Meanwhile, security officers are typically considered to be above a security guard in terms of the chain of command, duties, and training. Security guards are stationary, and security officers are mobile; they’re usually charged with patrolling potentially dangerous areas, giving critical oversight to other security personnel. Given the increased risk and liability that security officers deal with, they receive higher compensation.

Security officers are also responsible for managing other security guards, like checking on guard posts and patrol routes. They also have more paperwork and administrative duties to deal with, unlike security guards.

Another characteristic that sets security officers apart from security guards is that they’re usually considered a field agent since they have more dynamic roles. While they may not be assigned to patrol a route, they’re responsible for surveilling the entire property or designated location. They function as emergency personnel, especially when security guards are overwhelmed. Becoming a security officer requires a background in law enforcement or the military; sometimes, a retired or off-duty officer can also become one.

Security officers typically require additional credentials, depending on the state. Ultimately, many states don’t differentiate between security guards and security officers in terms of national accreditation, which you may want to keep in mind.


Security guards and security officers perform the essential functions of keeping an area safe from suspicious and harmful activity. However, understanding the nuances that separate them will help you when choosing security services.

Silbar Security is a security company with franchises all around the US. From roving patrol to event staff to security officers, our security services are the best in the industry. Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your business feel safer and more secure.

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