Are You Considering Starting a Career in Protection?
With global threat levels at an all-time high, there is more work in the security industry now than there ever has been, and the security industry is booming. Despite that, finding work can be very difficult for many new entrants. Since regulation, the process of getting qualified is easier and more straightforward than ever before, meaning, there are thousands more ‘qualified’ CPOs chasing after every position. So, if you’re thinking of working in this industry then you need to be sure it’s right for you before you splash the cash on expensive training.
Read the information we’re put together in this section and be honest when asking yourself these important questions to ask before starting a career in protection. Breaking into this industry is not easy but a career in protection is one of the most satisfying out there.
1. Why Work in Protection?
The close protection industry is a dynamic and fast-evolving sector of the global security industry and is itself comprised of several nuanced areas of expertise, such as; celebrity, VIP, and high net worth protection, incorporating specialisms in maritime, aviation, and hostile environment protection. The role is demanding, competitive, and requires a level of dedication beyond that which most jobs ask. However, it can also be an incredibly rewarding profession, allowing you a view of the world that you would never normally see. This, coupled with the expectation of good salaries, has made close protection an increasingly popular career choice, particularly amongst service leavers.
2. What is a Close Protection Operative?
Irrespective of the many niche areas of security, close protection operatives (CPO’s), or bodyguards, can commonly be defined by the single most important requirement expected of them in their professional capacity; to provide physical protection to a principal, shielding them from any potential harm and to quickly get them to safety.
The different types of threats commonly faced by bodyguards across the globe include: violence, kidnapping, mugging, hostile confrontation, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and more subtle threats such as reputation damage, bribery, and potentially embarrassing situations. To be successful in protection you will need a wide range of skills and plenty of self-discipline. And unlike with conventional jobs, you will have to make time for and in many cases pay for your own professional development.
When starting a career in protection you will need to meet certain criteria to ensure you are suitable for the role and will not add any undue risk to the principal or hinder the assignment in any way. Good protection operatives possess the following characteristics in abundance:
- High Level of Fitness
- Calm under pressure
- Fast and effective decision maker
- Good Time Keeper
- Team Player
- Ability to Operate on own initiative
- Good communication skills
3. How do I get Started?
Most CPOs are employed through private companies that are appointed by those who seek protection. Not all jobs are the same and many require different skills and experience from their operators so it’s advisable to diversify your development and be prepared for any situation and thereby making yourself more employable. But before starting a career in protection you need to be licensed, which means getting qualified by undertaking a training course that meets SIA (Security Industry Authority) criteria. There are many other factors that should be considered before opting for the first training provider you come across.
Read more on how to select a training provider >
4. What does Close Protection Training Involve?
A close protection course typically involves intensive training that runs continuously from start to finish, immersing a student in the world of a CPO. It’s vitally important to find a training company that offers a high-quality professional service and it’s advisable to do a great deal of research in this department before enrolling with any training provider.
Unfortunately, in the wake of regulation, a lot of companies have appeared, offering students a cheap and quick route to certification by compromising standards in order to process would-be operators through their courses at a rapid rate. Sadly, for several years this became a viable route into the industry as demand outstripped supply. But now, in a more settled environment, employers scrutinise prospective candidates, and not valuing the training you undertake is a surefire way to remain unemployed. Suddenly, what seemed like a cheap investment in a training course actually turns out to be quite expensive as you’re faced with the prospect of retraining or giving up on your dream of becoming a protection specialist.
For more information go to our Training section.
5. What is the Security Industry Authority (SIA) Licence
Before starting a career in protection in the UK, or working for a British company abroad, operatives are required by law to be licensed by the SIA and it is your responsibility to obtain the required licence and ensure you stay in date. The SIA is the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry; it is a criminal offence to undertake the licensable activities of a close protection operative without an SIA licence.
To obtain an SIA licence you must meet certain criteria to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. Licensing is in place to ensure that you adhere to industry standards and uphold them.
Find out more about the SIA licensing criteria.
6. What is Continuing Professional Development?
Once you’ve passed your entry course and acquired the necessary accreditation and licensing you will be expected to engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD). From a practical point of view, this ensures that your skills and knowledge remain fresh in all the areas you have trained in but also by expanding your ability in other areas it will make you more versatile and more employable. You never know where demand will shift to next in a global market, so remain open-minded and adaptable, and commit to development.
For more in-depth information go to our Development section.
7. Can I Get Work in Close Protection?
Despite a downsizing in the numbers of CPOs employed in hostile protection, in the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf of Aden, the requirement for close protection is increasing all the time. In a hostile and unpredictable world, where natural resources are becoming more scarce and governments can be overthrown via social media, people from all walks of life are more invested in security. So long as you have the necessary qualifications and accreditation, display the correct attitude, and have access to experienced networks of professionals then you have a chance of making it in protection.
Networking remains an integral part of gaining employment in the close protection industry, it is vitally important to establish and maintain relationships with experienced and operational professionals so that you may be recommended for jobs. It remains the most likely way of learning about new vacancies and given that over 80% of work is given to people who are known by current employees, it’s also your most likely route to employment.
More about BBA Job Vacancies >
What Is The BBA?
While not fundamental to starting a career in protection, one question many protectors consider is whether or not to join a professional industry organisation. The British Bodyguard Association was established more than a decade ago, during a period of unprecedented growth in the security industry. The BBA was originally formed to allow operators to network and find employment wherever they were deployed. But as the operating environment has evolved, so has the association. We now support a lot more members, guiding and assisting in their professional development and helping them to enjoy long and rewarding careers.