Hiring a security professional who is trained to provide safety and support at a small business or special event can provide peace of mind. Full-service security providers, such as Lion’s Head Executive Protection, Alert Security & Patrol and Preemptive Security Solutions, offer clients security-related services as well as licensing, liability insurance and compliance with state regulations. Typically, security companies charge based on the hourly rate of the personnel dispatched to a site or event. Rates vary based on whether guards are armed or not, as well as the type of experience they have had in the field. Nationwide, the average hourly rate for a security guard is $15–$25 per hour but can be quite a bit higher based on a variety of factors.
Armed or unarmed
Armed guards must have training as well as a license to carry firearms, so armed security typically costs $3–$5 per hour more per guard. Some states also require security guards to obtain training and certification to carry a baton, handcuffs and other means of debilitating or detaining a perpetrator, such as a stun gun, taser pepper spray, etc.
Experience and insurance
A guard’s experience level also affects the hourly rate they charge. In addition, independent security guards usually have lower rates than those employed by a licensed, insured firm, because companies generally have more overhead. In addition, clients get more protection in the form of liability insurance. Companies typically can provide a greater range of security services, too. Here are average hourly rates for security guards from a full-service security company:
Basic unarmed guard: $15–$20 per hour
Basic armed guard: $20–$25 per hour
Unarmed guard with advanced skills and experience: $30–$35 per hour
Armed guard guard with advanced skills and experience: $35–$45 per hour
- Most experienced (off-duty police officers, ex-military) armed guard: $60–$100 per hour or more
Most security companies provide quotes for event security services based on the type of event, size of venue, number of hours and how many guards are needed, as well as what they’ll be doing at the event and other factors. Since these factors vary widely, the cost per hour can range anywhere from $15 to $100 per hour.
Some retail businesses selling luxury or high-cost goods such as jewelry hire a security guard to protect against theft and provide greater security for employees and customers. The cost for one guard to stand near the door or in a visible location in the store typically costs $15–$45 per hour, depending on whether the guard is armed or not.
Some guards specialize in helping retailers prevent shoplifting or theft by employees. These services typically cost $15–$20 per hour.
Roving patrol or gate guard
Some homeowners’ associations hire a gate guard to check the credentials of residents and guests upon entry or a security guard who can patrol the property on foot or in a vehicle. A gate guard costs about the same as a stationary guard used for business security or loss prevention, but a guard patrolling in a vehicle usually costs more to cover fuel and vehicle upkeep. Having a guard on duty 24/7 costs even more simply because of the increased hours.
Bodyguards and trained pros who transport clients in an armored vehicle usually cost $200 and more per day. Some services, such as Alexandria Executive Protection and Security, specialize in this area.
Security companies can provide more than security guards. Alert Security & Patrol and Maximum Protective Services Security & Investigations both provide security assessments for residential or business sites. Maximum Protective Services Security & Investigations can also conduct background investigations of potential clients or employees.
Unarmed guards are less expensive—and the physical presence of a uniformed guard with a visible communication device may be all that’s needed to deter unwanted and unlawful behavior at a business or special event.