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About Security Guard Careers in Alberta

The following information is a comprehensive compilation of the key information related to security guard and other security careers. If this is a career you are considering for yourself, this information will help assist you in your decision making process and guide you in next steps towards becoming a security professional in the province of Alberta.

Have questions about Security careers?

Are you considering a career in security, but still not sure what the job is exactly? Perhaps you're not sure what you'd actually be doing on a daily basis and want to know more before you decide to take the training? We agree that these are important questions to ask, and we believe it's important that you do some research to find out these answers and more before you decide to start down this career path. 

There are lots of misconceptions out there about what a guard does and what their role is in private/physical security. They're not just a "mall cop"! It is a critical function in the safety of our communities, and supports and enhances law enforcement functions. This page explains what a security guard actually does to clear up some of these misconceptions and give you a solid idea of what the job entails so you can determine if it's the right career for you!

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Access Control

What is Private Security?

Private Security describes roles that secure and protect physical spaces (property), people and assets (items and information) from damage, unauthorized or illegal activity. Security staff work for private or public organizations such as corporations, schools, airports, banks, Indigenous reserves, or for a security company that contracts staff out to these types of organizations. Security provides an additional layer of protection and complements existing law enforcement organizations. Private security are considered civilians so they do not have any additional authorities to enforce the law like the police do. BUT did you know? Licensed security guards are permitted to make arrests!


Organizations that employ security professionals often evaluate the safety of their operations to proactively assess and mitigate risk to reduce chances of criminal activity. Contract security companies often employ security guards whose primary role is to deter crime by being a physical presence, and observing and reporting any suspicious activity to law enforcement.


Some individuals use their experience in their security job to propel them into other fields such as law enforcement, while others understand how private security has a critical role in the safety of our communities and choose to devote their entire careers to that cause.

Want to learn more about what a security guard career is like? Check out our featured articles!


Security system monitoring

What are security guards responsible for?

In general, security guards and security professionals are responsible for one or more of the following three things:

  • Protection of Persons (company staff, community, individuals)

  • Protection of Property (land, buildings, assets, equipment, money, physical things)

  • Protection of Information (digital and physical data)


They protect from damage (such as vandalism), theft, fire, trespass (unauthorized entry), or other unauthorized or illegal activity.


Office tower customer service

What do security guards do?

According to the Alberta Basic Training Participant Manual (Jan 2014) the primary role of a security professional is to:

  • Observe - look for threat or evidence of unauthorized or illegal activity

  • Deter - when safe to do so, confront those who may be violating policies or bylaws or call law enforcement

  • and Report - communicate and document all incidents


The role of each guard is mostly dependent on the requirements of the specific job. Some of the duties you may be expected to do may include:

  • Customer service

  • Being a professional presence

  • Directing traffic

  • Patrolling of premises and/or grounds

  • Monitoring alarm systems

  • Controlling access to individuals at locations

  • Observing and reporting incidents and criminal activity

  • Responding to alarms and incidents

  • Responding to emergencies and emergency scene management

  • Bylaw enforcement (such as issuing parking tickets)

  • Performing a citizen's arrest on those found committing a crime

Security guards are not police officers or law enforcement and do not have the same legal authorities. However, in some cases, security guards may actually have more authority. For example, police do not have the authority to randomly search and may only do so with a warrant, whereas a security guard may be asked to perform searches on premises to which they have responsibility.


Airport security

What can you expect from a basic security guard job?

Average hourly wage: $20.09 (Entry level usually starts at minimum wage.)

Average annual salary: $38.019

Job demand: Medium to high

Outlook: Above average

Types of hours: Varies depending on the type of work and shift

Physical activity: Varies depending on the type of work and shift

Dress code: Uniform


What are the benefits of working in security?

There are many benefits to working in security:

  • Large demand for jobs

  • Flexible options for shifts and can be a great full-time or part-time job

  • Opportunities to advance, specialize and pivot into related careers

  • Challenging career where everyday on the job is different

  • To have meaningful work serving your community

  • To help others protecting life and property


What types of positions are there?

Guards usually either work as an employee at a large company such as a cannabis or pipeline company, or they work for a security company who contracts out their services to other organization such as smaller companies or government.


If you end up working for a large company, you will likely have a static employee or temporary position. This means you will have the same set hours, work location, roles and duties, and pay.


If you end up working for a security company, your role will be dependent on the contract you are assigned to and will likely change once the contract is completed and you are assigned to a different contract. For example, you could end up doing access management at a particular site for 2 months, and then for the following year do vehicle patrol for several sites.


You could be offered a full-time, part-time or casual position. Full-time positions are typically offered to those with a reasonable amount of security experience. Casual positions are where you would be asked to fill in specific shifts on an occasional basis and are great as a second job, or while in school. Shifts may be daytime, nighttime, split or occasional.



Did you know?

Besides being a security guard, the following careers also require you to take the Alberta Basic Security Training and get your Security Licence:

  • Loss Prevention

  • Executive Protection

  • Patrol Dog Handler

  • Alarm Responder

  • and more


You must also apply for one or more of these specific classes of licence when you apply for your Security Services licence.


VIP Protection

Advanced security positions

There are numerous opportunities to grow and pivot within the security industry and related protection careers. Once you are comfortable as a basic security guard and are ready for the next step, additional training and experience will be required, based on the specific area you want to get into. Typically those who want to advance in their security careers will become a security professional by either specializing in a specific skillset, moving into management, or pivoting into a related protection career.


Private security staff work in almost every industry and it is a very diverse field that allows an individual to specialize in roles such as:

  • Tactical guard

  • Close protection or executive protection (body guard)

  • Loss prevention (detecting and preventing loss of assets)

  • Mobile alarm response (responding to security alarms)

  • Security system monitoring

  • Special events and crowd management

  • Armed transportation

  • Bylaw, law and corporate policy enforcement

  • Risk management

  • Operations management

  • Consulting

  • and others.


As an individual progresses in their career and becomes a professional, they move from being on the ground to behind the scenes coordinating the work. They may be responsible for developing safety and security plans and policies, performing risk assessments, building and managing teams, analyzing information to determine trends to put proactive measures in place to deter unauthorized activity, educating and working with other departments and organizations, coordinating with law enforcement, and more.

The other option some take is to use security as a way to get their foot in the door to pivot into other protection careers, like law enforcement. For more information on the different career options within security beyond a basic guard position and in other protection careers, please visit Career Planning.


Want to learn more about security jobs?

  • Alberta Labour and Immigration Services has some great information on their website about this career:

  • If you know someone who works as a security guard, talk to them! Ask them questions about their role. Find out what they do, what they like and what they don't like.

  • Job shadowing is sometimes possible, but in most cases this isn't an option in security due to the high risk of liability. But you can start by getting experience in customer service.


Special event security

How can you start a career in Security?

To work as a security guard in Alberta, you must have an Alberta Security Services Licence. The following four simple steps explain how to become a basic security guard in Alberta:

  1. Check to make sure you meet the requirements of becoming a licenced security guard in Alberta.

  2. Take the Alberta Basic Security Training (ABST) course either online or in-person.

  3. Pass the Government Final Exam either online or in-person.

    • Once the training has been FULLY completed, you must pass the government final exam to be able to apply for your licence and work as a security guard.  For more information about the exam, including dates for the exam and booking online, please go to Exam Booking: ABST & AIT. ​NOTE:  Government exams are offered online and in-person at our facility in Edmonton.

    • For those who pass their exam, as of January 2023, you will receive your certificate from the Solicitor General of Alberta by E-mail 2-3 business days after the exam.  Once you have this, you may apply for your Security Services license using the instructions in the following section.​

  4. Apply for the Security Services Licence

    • Click on the link for instructions on how to apply for your Security Services Licence, including: basic requirements, what information you will need to gather together, and how to submit your application.​


Foot patrol

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