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Security Officer/​Guard

Āpiha Whakamarumaru/​Tūtei Whakamarumaru

Alternative titles for this job

Security officers/guards patrol or guard an area or building to prevent fire, trespassing, theft or vandalism. They may also complete investigations for individuals and businesses, or provide personal protection to a client.


Security officers/guards with up to three years’ experience usually earn

$19 per hour

Security officers/guards with more than three years’ experience usually earn

$19-$33 per hour

Source: Stats NZ; NZ Security Association, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a security officer/guard are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for security officers/guards varies depending on experience and specialisation.

  • Security officers/guards in training can expect to earn the minimum wage.
  • Security officers/guards with more than three years experience can earn between minimum wage and $20 an hour.
  • Security officers/guards who specialise as private investigators can earn up to $33 an hour.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, '2013 Census', 2014; NZ Security Association, 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Security officers/guards may do some or all of the following:

  • patrol properties and buildings to check they are secure and free from fires and other hazards
  • maintain order at events where there are large crowds of people
  • pick up and deliver valuables and money, and monitor cash on premises
  • perform security checks on staff members
  • conduct investigations for clients and prepare evidence for court proceedings
  • operate electronic security equipment and computer software
  • advise clients on personal security, and plan and carry out personal client protection
  • detect and investigate theft and other unlawful acts carried out in retail premises.

Skills and knowledge

Security officers/guards need to have knowledge of:

  • security and surveillance methods and equipment
  • legal procedures for arrest
  • laws on trespass and assault, and personal property.

Private investigators and personal protection officers also need to have knowledge of:

  • court procedures and legislation
  • how to use cameras and video equipment
  • protection procedures and the New Zealand laws that define the limits of their legal powers
  • self-defence.

Working conditions

Security officers/guards:

  • usually do shift work, which may include evenings and weekends
  • may work long hours
  • work in a variety of places such as bars, offices, public buildings, and event centres
  • may experience verbal or physical abuse from the public.

Entry requirements

To become a security officer/guard you must have a Certificate of Approval issued by the Ministry of Justice. This involves a police background check and a public notification, which allows members of the public to raise objections.

You also need to:

  • complete mandatory training within 3 months of starting work as a security guard to qualify for the approval certificate
  • not have any dishonesty, violence or drug convictions in the past seven years.

A first aid certificate may also be useful.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements for security officers/guards, but three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include physical education and digital technologies.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

Loss protection officer

To become a loss prevention officer it is useful to have a qualification in security.

Personal protection officer

To become a personal protection officer with the New Zealand Police you need to:

  • become a police officer
  • complete a further intensive two-week course.

Private investigator

To become a private investigator you need to have:

  • a private security licence from the Ministry of Justice

Private personal protection officer

To become a private personal protection officer you need to:

  • have proven experience and a good reputation in the security industry
  • apply for a private security licence from the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority.

Personal requirements

Security officers/guards need to be:

  • skilled at communicating and able to relate to a wide range of people
  • able to remain calm in emergencies
  • mature and responsible
  • good at solving problems
  • alert, with an eye for detail
  • honest, reliable and able to keep information confidential.

Useful experience

Useful experience for security officers/guards includes:

  • police officer work
  • customs officer work
  • work as a member of the armed forces
  • any job that involves working with the public.

Physical requirements

Security officers/guards need to have a good level of fitness as they may spend long periods on their feet.

Personal protection officers need to have an excellent level of fitness and must be strong.

Find out more about training

Skills Organisation
0508 754 557 - support@skills.org.nz - www.skills.org.nz
NZ Security Association
(09) 486 0441 - nzsa@security.org.nz - www.security.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of getting a job as a security officer/guard are good as not enough are training to meet demand, causing a shortage. Demand for security officers/guards is increasing as:

  • business owners and members of the public worried about crime hire private security firms
  • security companies take on security functions from other agencies. For example, private security companies are now often providing crime scene security for the police.

According to the Census, 9,378 security officer/guards worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Opportunities for private investigators and personal protection officers poor

However, opportunities for some specialist security officers/guards, such as private investigators and personal protection officers, are poor, as many individuals and businesses cannot afford to hire people in these roles.

Types of employers varied

Security officers/guards may work for:

  • private security companies
  • retail businesses such as department stores
  • museums and galleries
  • banks and financial institutions
  • manufacturing and construction companies
  • bars and pubs
  • sports and entertainment venues
  • the police.


  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Morrison, G, Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Security Association, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2017, (www.security.org.nz).
  • New Zealand Security Association website, accessed March 2017, (www.security.org.nz).
  • Redmond, A, 'Nelson Bouncers Worked Unlicensed for over a Year due to Training Shortage', 22 July 2016, (www.stuff.co.nz).
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Vance, A, 'Private Security Guards Hired to Fill Void Left by Shortage of Cops on Streets', 1 June 2016, (www.tvnz.co.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Security officers/guards may move into security planning, consultancy or management. Some set up their own security firms.

They may also specialise in an area of security such as:

Loss Prevention Officer
Loss prevention officers work in shops and businesses to prevent theft and crime. They operate surveillance equipment and may work in plain clothes.
Personal Protection Officer
Personal protection officers provide for the personal safety of a client, either as part of the diplomatic protection squad or in the private sector.
Private Investigator
Private investigators conduct investigations for clients, such as obtaining personal information or trying to find a missing person. They may also prepare evidence for court proceedings.
A security officer/guard monitors closed-circuit television screens

Security officers/guards monitor buildings to keep them safe

Last updated 12 August 2020