There are many different jobs for security personnel, but there are some common elements to all of these jobs. Security personnel need to know the legal principles governing their line of work; effective surveillance techniques; and how to assess and quickly handle threatening situations. Many security workers also need the strength and self-defense skills to restrain offenders. Some need basic first aid skills (this includes amusement park and concert security). Most officers spend a good portion of their time preparing reports and filling out other paperwork.
Security officers patrol and inspect the property to guard against vandalism, dangerous situations, and theft. These guards work in department stores, schools, for private businesses, government buildings, museums, on ships, in nightclubs and bars, and much more. Job duties vary, but these guards are there mostly to deter criminals and to keep the public or patrons safe.
Correctional and detention officers work with arrested and incarcerated individuals. These guards help keep the peace by preventing assaults, disturbances, and escapes. The work is stressful and dangerous, but does not require advanced training and offers good pay and job security.
Police officers and detectives protect the lives and property of the public. Officers respond to service calls, respond to accidents, assist in investigations, and patrol. Sheriffs and their deputies enforce laws at the county level, and state troopers monitor state highways. Detectives and agents investigate and try to solve criminal cases. Agents also enforce federal laws.
Information security is performed by computer operators and systems analysts, among others. These workers build security into the computer systems, implement security procedures, and sometimes assist office or company staff when security issues arise. High-level workers may help governments or big businesses catch hackers, identity thieves, and more.
Most guards (security and correctional) work a regular 40-hour work week. Many facilities need to be watched 24-hours a day, on holidays and weekends, too. Police officers have more irregular shifts, and some work overtime (especially detectives). Police officers and agents are also expected to enforce the law or help out as needed when off-duty (for example, assisting at a traffic accident that they witnessed).