Security & Protective Services

Careers in security and protective services cover a broad range of specialties, with both public and private sector jobs available for this career field.

Essentially, any position which provides protection to a person or group of people can be placed under this umbrella. Firefighters,police officers, the military and even school crossing guards can be classified as providing security and protective services.

The strong desire to protect others – even at great personal risk to oneself – is the hallmark characteristic of those who are ideal for serving in these kinds of positions.


As with other jobs in the criminal justice category, the requirements for working in a career centered on security and protective services vary.

For some jobs in this industry, only a high school diploma or equivalent, plus on-the-job training, is required. For others, more advanced degrees are preferred.

Associate-level degrees are available and take approximately18 to 24 months to complete. These kinds of programs, regardless of whether they are in a traditional or online setting, focus on the criminal justice system and how it operates. Coursework in criminology, investigative techniques, domestic/international terrorism and criminal law is completed in order to earn the degree.

Undergraduate degrees, also known as bachelor degrees, will expand on the skills learned in an associate degree program in security and protective services. Greater emphasis will be placed on the areas of correction, crime scene investigation techniques, forensic psychology, the juvenile crime and corrections system, law enforcement and homeland security.Those who possess an undergraduate degree in this field will be eligible for higher-paying positions and be afforded the opportunity for advancement in their chosen field. 

Graduate degree programs in security and protective service soften are reserved for those working in managerial or state and federal government positions. Among the highest paid positions in the security and protective services industry are managerial positions. These are the people who oversee police officers and detectives, firefighters and prevention workers and criminal investigators. This level of schooling will include studies in the causes of criminal behavior across various cultures and the factors which attribute to social deviance.

Graduate programs – also referred to as master degree programs – often are available online as a convenience to professionals already working the industry who wish to hone or increase their skills.

Future Outlook

Demand for security and protective services personnel is expected to increase by 7 percent between now and 2020. Jobs are expected to be plentiful at the local level, with fiercer competition for fewer openings at the state and federal levels.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in May 2010that over 3.2 million people are employed in security and protective services jobs.

The average annual income of those employed in the industry was $40,200. Those working in managerial positions within the security and protective services industry earned between $63,840 and $76,820per year. 

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