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Career in Private Security & Services

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Security has existed since people began to inhabit the earth. There is a certain attraction attached to the work of a private detective, security officers, executive protection personnel, and investigator, especially among adverturous young souls. Security is intended to protect and preserve activities/property without loss or disruption. Security and loss prevention constitute one of the fastest growing and changing industries worldwide. Private security services encompass a wide variety of products and services for industrial applications and the safeguarding of event venues, persons and property against hazards arising out of human negligence, natural calamities and criminal intent.
Security Guy
Private security is made up of self-employed individuals and privately funded businesses which provide security to other persons and businesses for a fee. People are increasingly seeking protection in addition to that provide by law enforcement departments. The growing complexity of industrial societies in the 1080s and 1990s has transformed a fairly straightforward human resource-based
Profession into a major business. The private security services business now hinges on competence in strategic intelligence and research, engineering and industrial automation, information technologies, law media relations, and the management of all these aspects.

The need for professional security services industry has emerged mainly to supplement the efforts of law enforcement agencies especially from a less-obvious, informal angle. Reliability with efficiency are the keywords for success in the security business. Detective agencies which often provide security services too have to be equipped to handle duties ranging from the location of missing persons, to exposing financial frauds. There is no work that they can refuse if they want to be successful. Insurance Investigations, ascertaining the bona fide or credit worthiness of an individual, adopting enquiries, proofs of evidence and statements obtained, executive, diplomatic and celebrity protection, infringement of patents, accident investigation and surveillance. The variety of services in demand is unlimited.

Nature of Work

The work force of a security and detective agency is usually composed of people from all strata of society. For the boss, work would be primarily office work and investigators would be the employees in whose efficiency you can depend on. Public relations skills would be required to convince clients of your ability to handle the problem and also to maintain good relations with old clients, Building up of a good team of loyal and efficient workers is crucial to success. So the basis of success is the employment of a good work force.

At the start-up level, are the security guards who look into the regular maintenance of security at residential, business premises, stores and other sites. Security and protection work around celebrities and important government/political functionaries appears to be exciting and glamorous but quite often the work tends to be very humdrum. This is the bread and butter for the survival of professional security services. Hours of work are long, often irregular. Some executive protection professionals have admitted that at the more sophisticated/senior levels, one was better off being single and unattached. Family times get severely restricted and personal plans are often put on hold.

Private detectives, investigators and private security personnel are involved in a wide variety of businesses and problems. They assist legal personnel, businesses and the general public in resolving various problems. They extend protective services to residential/business premises protecting their clients from thefts, vandalism, and disorder. This may be very mundane affair but it is the work which provides a steady and rolling revenue for a security/detective agency.
After getting a contract, the business executives of the agency have to also ensure good quality service to these clients by providing the best personnel and support services.

The work is stressful to say the least and you should be at ease with the use of firearms. Updating on the latest surveillance technology and communication facilities is important to be a step ahead. Dealing with demanding clients may not be hazardous physically but is stressful form the business point of view. Hence PR and communication skills are most essential to keep the business going and multiplying.

There is that bit of risk which keeps the adrenaline pumping. But there is usually a back-up for personnel deputed by any agency in any high-risk operation.

Work Environment

Detectives would be pursuing investigations during their free time rather than office time unless the situation warrants it. Much of the surveillance work has to be really beefed up during these off periods because that is when most of the underhand work goes on. Hush-hush folks-detectives and security personnel – must be really tuned to catching their prey in action. Hours of work are not expected to be regular, no seheduled vacations and unsocial work hours.

Environment out of the office for an investigator or detective might be seedy bars, rather than plush hotel foyers. Most of the work is individual and so one should be able to handle working alone. During surveillance team work would be required which means that one must be comfortable both ways-on one’s own and in a team.

Detectives and personal security personnel should aim to be unobtrusive in dress and appearance. Strength and skills should be present but they should look like the average man/woman on the street.


Detectives and security personnel of various categories and at various levels are usually without professional degrees, but at higher levels they usually possess work experience in police service or armed forces background.

Specialists are called in or employed for investigations and analyses in which specialised knowledge is required. For legal investigations legal firms or lawyers may hire the services of the detectives. Or professional security services hire legal professionals to help them in unfolding legal crimes. The investigators assist the lawyer/s in preparing criminal defences, locating witnesses, interviewing police, gathering and reviewing evidence, searching out testimonial, documentary or physical evidence, taking photographs, testifying in court even,. Similarly, lawyers can help detectives keep within the law and resolve cases on a firm legal footing.

During corporate investigations both internal and external invevstigations are required . Sometimes corporate houses employ their own in-house investigation staff who may, inturn, employ outside agencies to do their undercover operations.

Financial investigations require specialised knowledge of finance and investigating agencies may employ or hire the services of finance specialists to complete the assignment.

Departmental/retail stores require the services of security agencies for loss control and asset protection. They have to be able to apprehend anyone who is out to steal merchandise or destroy store property. Whether it is to detect shoplifting, or theft by even employees these detectives have always to be on the alert. In fact they have to be on the alert at the time of opening and closing of the store on a daily basis. Not only that, they may be required to testify in court against persons apprehended by them. Their utility lies more in anticipating problems which is why they would be required to prepare loss prevention and security reports for the management.

On a very large-scale, ideally, security enterprises might maintain a laboratory for chemical analyses, employ forensic scientists, chemists etc. who would ideally be specialists in their field.

When technical investigation work is on, a technical expert may be called in to give a specialist view, or if the firm conducts technical investigations on a regular basis would prefer to employ full-time technical personnel.

Electronic and cyber crimes are the emerging security concerns of most organsations today for which IT professionals and Intellectual Property Rights professionals are required.

Secretarial help and office assistants take care of the formal paper work and follow-up/record keeping. Their duties include seheduling appointments for prospective clients, keeping clients posted on the happenings as and when they need to be.

Accountants take care of financial matters. These people, while tuned to the privacy and secrecy norms of the work, would be carrying on very normal and regular work hours.

Physical and Psychological Requirements

Security professionals require leadership qualities, persuasive skills, helping attitude, ability for instructing others, problem-solving skills, creativity, initiative, and ability for team work. Frequent public contact, manual dexterity and physical stamina are essential requirements on this job. Most employers say that they look for individuals with ingenuity who are aggressive, persistent and assertive. A candidate must not be afraid of being confrontational, should communicate well, and should be able to think on his/her feet.

Qualities required of security guards are good physique, physical fitness integrity, strength of purpose, motivation and discipline primarily. Most security agencies prefer to employ ex-servicemen but also pick up freshers with the right physical and personal qualities.

Literacy and common sense, being observant, alertness, manual dexterity, ability to work as a team, ability to tackle regular public contact and hazards are useful qualities.

Ease in use of sophisticated equipment for coordinating with team-mates and in collecting evidence is something that needs to be developed on-the-job. Much of the skills required on-the-job are actually learnt at work as there is hardly any training on a professional basis for this type of work anywhere in the world.

Negotiating and intelligence gathering is very important in this work. Information is power and so the more information you have the better able you are to provide security and protection or track down offenders. Good interpersonal skills come into play here and choosing the right word recording to the person you are talking to is a knack that is to acquired. Detectives have to learn to use their voice-make it soft, confident, angry, commanding or any other way the situation demands. Since half of communication is listening, good listening skills go a long way in doing the job better. Both body language as well as attentiveness count towards good listening skills. Beware of certain types of people, traits you are uncomfortable with – your bias should not overcome your ability to listen.

Anger management- yours and the other party’s – helps in negotiating or information gathering. It is wiser to know the types and relative strength/influence of the different sides in a given situation.

The executive protection professional carries the responsibility of providing for the protection, health, welfare and possibly the life of another human being. This job requires skills in physical defense, best physical condition, strength, endurance, flexibility, high level of alertness, the ability to be mentally charged to absorb new skills, be a good judge of character, the ability to develop a good support network, a basic understanding of law, discretion and confidentially.


A large variety of training avenues can be useful for entry into the professional security services industry. Eligibility requirements vary but physical and psychological requirements, prior related work experience is helpful for entry.

Training in subjects such as criminal justice is helpful to the aspiring investigator or detective. Most corporate investigators would find it helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree preferably in a business-related field. An MBA, law degree, degrees in criminology, forensic science, accountancy and insurance surveying training are helpful.

Most agencies dealing in investigation and detective work prefer to recruit employees and then train them in house in their ways and practices. Good interviewing and interrogation skills acquired in earlier careers in law enforcement or other fields are important. Typical training is provided by the employers of security personnel at various levels.

Guards are provided physical training and skills like martial arts, use of arms, etc., at their training centers. Those possessing genuine licenses for firearms are posted as armed guards wherever specified by clients who may be big or small companies, residential complexes, hotels, commercial centers, etc.

Selection & Recruitment

In most firms, the screening process for potential employees includes a background check to confirm education and work experience, to inquire about criminal history, and to interview references and others who know the applicant.

Outdoor and hazardous work environment is part of the job. Those who have employed in the police force or have served in the defence forces already have certain skills and qualities developed to handle the work. This is the main reason why the security and detective agencies are mostly set up by personnel retired from these services or who have opted out of the organized forces.

Recruitment of managers and general office staff is according to conventional modes or reviewing the resume, conducting group discussions and interviews.

Employment Prospects

Opportunities for private detectives and investigators are expected to grow as fear of crime and sophistication in its execution increases. Rise in litigation and fear of leak of confidential information, and the need to protect property of all kinds requires more such people on the job. Most organisations prefer to hire outside contract workers. Part-time and full-time work exists but there are no job guarantees or job security(!).

Globe TOPS, Security Intelligence Services are some of the oft-mentioned names at the national level in security and investigation work in corporate circles.

Salary structures vary with the size of the organisation and level of responsibilities. At the lowest level, as security guards, the payments are not very encouraging, sometimes being as low as Rs.2,000 for 10-12 hour working days with hardly any social welfare benefits.

In routine investigation work at a reputed agency you could start with Rs.4,000 with not much work experience. With the right type of work experience professionals may be paid a monthly salary of Rs.20,000 with privileges. For very high-level investigative or shadowing work specialists may get paid by the hour at Rs.2,000 or Rs.20,000 for a normal working day.

Payment is really high for those who operate as single agents for an indivdual’s security but one should have sufficient experience and reputation to get to such a position. Over the next decade the demand for private security and protection personnel and services is certain to rise.

Career Progression
Most private detective and investigation agencies operate on a small scale and have a local jurisdiction so the scope for advancement is restricted. There are very few well-defined ranks or status so promotions are in the nature of salary increases and status/responsibilities of the work assigned. Those who have become established in the field may tend to open their own firms or decide to specialise in a particular type of work for which they have prior experience and credibility.

Security of jobs in this profession depends a lot on the individual and his/her previous relevant experiences, learning attitude and openness to new ideas for diversification. For those who are reliable, sincere and experienced assignments keep pouring in.

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