If you’ve ever watched the security teams on TV chat shows or at out-of-control music concerts and thought “I could do that, how hard could it be?” it’s time to prove it in the retail industry.
While you won’t be protecting Jeremy Kyle or taking an unruly guest off a stage, a retail security officer is an essential role that keeps a store running smoothly, safely and securely.
So, what will I actually be doing?
A retail security officer’s main job is to keep a watchful eye on stock, staff and the customers…particularly customers that have a talent for nicking stuff. Be warned; you’ll be on your feet a lot in this job, so you may need to invest in some comfortable shoes.
Acting like a human CCTV camera, your primary role is preventing any theft or damage from taking place from within the store, but you may also be expected to help customers just like a sales assistant.
Just let any job, there’s also some hidden paperwork amongst your job description, and you’ll have to make official notes on any unusual incidents including property damage and theft. These need to be accurate records as the police or courts may want to use them at a later date.
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The finer details...
Just like any other job in the retail sector, expect to be working shifts during both the week and on weekends.
You’ll be working around 48 hours a week, and with an increasing amount of shops remaining open through the night, there’s both morning and evening shifts up for grabs.
Depending on the store, you may be working alone or with a small team. Expect the unexpected with a security job, and some days you may not be given a uniform to wear, so you can go under-cover.
Money, money, money
We know you won’t want to do this job for free, so what can you expect to earn?
Of course your salary will vary depending on the company and the location, but as a newbie to security you can expect to earn between £12,000 and £15,000.
Get some experience under your security belt and that increases to around £21,000.
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The good points...
Once you’ve become a retail security officer, you don’t have to be stuck in the same sector till retirement if you don’t want to.
The role is full of transferable skills and knowledge that you can take to many different sectors, so if retail isn’t for you, you can move on fairly easily.
...and the bad
Don’t expect shop-lifters to happily admit they’ve been robbing the store, they’ll run, they’ll kick and they'll probably do a lot of shouting too.
There may even be times when you’ll be required to use slight force on a shoplifter to retain them while you await the police. Not for the faint hearted.
Is there study involved?
Good news if you were always the class clown at school, to work in security you don’t actually need the world’s best qualifications.
While a basic level of education is always useful to have, it’s more important you get work experience on your CV. Employers will be looking to see if you can handle the job and the trouble that can come with it, so any experience in something like the police or armed forces will make you stand out.
Most employers will want you to have a relevant security guard license, which you can get by attending an SIA (Security Industry Authority) course. Once you’ve completed your training with them, you’ll have a shiny license to show off to potential employers.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
As a member of security, you’re going to be outnumbered by customers, so you’ve got to have a really keen eye to spot the wrong-uns.
You also need to be reasonably physically fit, with plenty of strength and stamina. While you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, you’ll be expected to run after shop-lifters should you need to. If you can’t even run for the bus without getting out of breath, it might be time to hit the gym.
To be a successful security guard, it’ll help if you have some or all of the following attributes:
- Awareness of your surroundings
Strong communicating skills (you’ll need it when talking to shoplifters and police)
- Polite and helpful
- Good writing ability (for the reports)
- Confidence to challenge people (not everyone is going to admit they’re a shoplifter)
- Ability to adapt and deal with the unexpected
- Confident using CCTV and other monitoring equipment