LAST EDIT November 13, 2023
Can You Get a Bodyguard Job, Without Having Police or Military Experience?
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So, you're a security officer, perhaps with little to no experience in law enforcement or the military. You aspire to become a security professional, specifically a personal protection agent or bodyguard for celebrities, corporate executives, and high-net-worth individuals.
How do you achieve this goal? Is it even possible?
I believe it is.
Stay with me here.
First, for some context: Some of those in the industry, might tell you that the path to personal protection lies through the military or law enforcement officer, aka LEO experience. That's because much of the personal protection industry is believed to be a word-of-mouth industry, in essence, the best jobs aren't really hired for from the general public safety public, but are contacts giving their personal contacts jobs based on past relations, for example, I knew this guy in the service or he was in all of the same LEO trainings as me, so I know he will be good.
But, I believe, it's possible for you, a security officer, to also move into this industry, and here's my roadmap for how this can be done, even without military or LEO experience. If you disagree, let me know in the comments.
Let's think of this as our five year plan, growing from unarmed security guard, to professional protection officer.
First, if you're working as an unarmed officer and aspire to be a bodyguard, your first step is to get your armed officer card or certification. For more on the Armed Security Exam, check out The Security Officer's Book, Armed Security Prep Guide. The link is in the description. You will probably need to put in some time, working as an armed officer, even if it is for the big generic corporate security companies; mostly, just to post armed officer experience to your resume.
Next, here's a neat hack for getting what could be considered Law Enforcement Officer or LEO experience. Working in your state's Department of Corrections or a private prison agency is sometimes viewed as LEO experience. These jobs are often readily available, as DOC agencies, and/or private prison operators are constantly understaffed. This means they qualify as what I term, "quick hire jobs." A quick hire job is a job, where you go into the interview and discover that the interview is more of a job prep session than it is a job eligibility determination event, i.e., "is the night shift ok with you? When can you start?" They will get you into a uniform and down range as fast as the paperwork allows.
Once hired, completing their academy, spending at least a year down range and earning at least one promotion; you have boosted your resume significantly. This experience is valuable across various contexts, from potentially counting as LEO experience for the purposes of bodyguard work (probably depending on who is processing your resume), and where working with offenders could carry more weight than other types of LEO experience;
to college LEO programs where, if in the future you change your career path, and want to become an LEO, you may be able to portfolio in your DOC training and save yourself time and money;
to private security where programs such as the Custom Protection Officer program, CPO, have been known to require it's participants to have military, police OR a corrections background.
A word of caution: if you do choose to spend some time working in corrections, don't let offenders manipulate you! They thrive on their ability to co-opt new C Os and this is a test of your suitability for this industry. Don't let this happen to you! If you can be turned by an offender, then your career has just hit a brick wall.
Now, if you are really all in on this: while you are getting some armed security experience and/or DOC experience, consider spending some of your off-work time working in event security. These are also quick hire jobs and you will likely find that event security companies in your area are constantly posting for event security officers. Just check the job boards. They will often need staff for evenings and weekends, and your willingness to help, even at short notice, makes their staffing manager very grateful to you. These grateful staffing managers are likely to respect your request for the best assignments where you can make personal protection industry contacts and get to know those in the industry who are providing personal protection services. You might find yourself near celebrity suites at games or movie screenings, working alongside actual close protection officers.
You will display a professionalism beyond your current role's requirements. Always observant you are already projecting the air of an executive protection officer, regardless of your current position. Maybe it's been a long day working an event, but, you won't be the one leaning against a wall, sitting down or zoning out and glassing over. You will remain alert and carry the bearing of a professional protection officer, even though you are still wearing one of the lame event security uniforms. This will impress your contacts and set you up for the next level of work.
Now it's time to invest some of your extra earnings into executive protection training. There are numerous courses available, some requiring you to travel and take time off work, so its a good thing that you have that extra event security money. These courses not only provide certifications but also the word-of-mouth contacts in the industry. And, this continuous learning can give you an edge over the ex-military personnel who might not pursue additional training because they got so much training while in the military, which is true, but your training will be more recent, and thus, potentially more relevant to the current day.
See the description below this video for links to some of these companies.
Here are some tips: seek out some of the unique programs that can be conversation starters in future interviews with employers and clients. As you can see, there are plenty to choose from. Also, take courses from a diverse array of providers. Some of these training providers also provide protection services. So, when they need a local, advance man in your city, for one of their visiting clients, they might just look throughout their student directory to find out who is local and who they can call, thus, you will want to have relationships with as many of these providers as possible.
With armed security, corrections experience, executive protection training and event security under your belt, your resume is ready and you should start leveraging your contacts. Let them know that you are ready for personal protection work. Keep an eye on job postings and use your event staffing contacts for leads. You may not be successful right away, but stay persistent. And, don't hesitate to take the less-than-exciting perimeter security jobs.
Jobs like perimeter security at a celebrity or business executive's home or armed fixed-point security at high-value sites, can be the stepping stones to full-on executive protection, allowing you to showcase your skills and make further contacts. Expect that this could be hit and miss for a while, perhaps getting called in when a regular protection officer needs off work or can't travel with the client. But, over time, if you stay persistent, keep growing your contact list and training, show good judgement while on duty, and impress with your poise, confidence and awareness, you should be in the right place at the right time to win some key assignments.
Thank you for for your support. We'll see you next time.
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