The Difference Between a Security Guard and Bodyguard

difference between security guard and bodyguard

The Difference Between a Security Guard and Bodyguard

In the world of security, so much of the public knowledge and perception of the security industry is to do with how we see this profession portrayed on the silver screen.

We all remember the moment Kevin Costner whisked Whitney Houston off her feet in Bodyguard and we all remember not bothering to see Paul Blart Mall Cop.

There is a big difference between a security guard and a bodyguard. Though one can technically be both.

A security guard is someone who is licensed by the state to perform security guard duties associated with a variety of security-related jobs such as concierge, patrolling, gatehouse, crowd control and others. They have studied a required certificate in order to be able to apply for the licence.

Whereas a bodyguard is someone who is licensed by the state to work as a bodyguard and a security guard. They have studied both required courses and depending on if they have kept both licences and the required training up to date, they would be able to switch between the two.

Let’s take a deep dive into these two security related professions and learn a bit more about what makes them unique.


Being a bodyguard might seem like a glamorous job but there is a lot more to this role than just walking the red carpet with a celeb.

A lot of bodyguards actually work for corporate clients. The demand for personal security for those working at higher corporate levels has risen recently.  Working as a bodyguard or to use the proper name, as a Close Protection Operative, you could work with a variety of clients.

Due to the high-profile nature of the work and the client’s position, discretion is very important. The goal is not to stand out but to blend in.

What Do Bodyguards Study?

In order to become a bodyguard, there are two courses you’ll need to complete.

The first is the course required for all security guards working in Australia. It’s called the Certificate II in Security Operations and this course is taught over an 8-day workshop, with some online work required before and after the course in most states. Some states require a longer time frame for completion of this training.

This course also includes the required first aid course for this licence. In security you need to have your first aid as you are often the person in charge of administering first aid if anything happens on your shift.

This is the required course in order to apply for your unarmed security guard licence. In Queensland the licensing for this industry is handled by the Office of Fair Trading and once an application has been made it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to receive your licence.

Once you have received your licence, you can get out and start working in the security industry. If you’re wanting to work as a bodyguard, you will also need to complete the Certificate III in Close Protection Operations. This course is one of the upskilling options for those who have already studied the Certificate II in Security Operations. This course focuses on conflict negotiation, risk assessment, coordinating the security efforts for the client and collection, storing and destruction of security materials. As well as a lot of other crucial skills you’ll need to excel as a Close Protection Operative.

Where Do Bodyguards Work?

Bodyguards or Close Protection Operatives work in all different kinds of places. What sets them apart is they are not protecting a building like a gatehouse guard or roving patrol guard but a person and for that reason their work takes them wherever their client goes.

Bodyguards work for all kinds of clients, large scale corporate clients, businessmen and women, dignitaries, politicians and celebrities.

They go where the client goes so sometimes bodyguards will travel with their client on holidays or wherever the person might be required to go. They might also be required to perform guarding duties in offices or outside of meetings as well.

Bodyguards often work closely with their clients, being invited into their homes and on their holidays to do their job, which is why a bodyguard must operate with absolute discretion.

What Is It Like Being A Bodyguard?

You have probably walked past a Close Protection Operative and not noticed them at all, but you can bet they would have noticed you. Bodyguards are trained to blend in and remain hyper alert to their surroundings and especially the people around their client.

Watching and gauging people’s emotions and their movements to ensure the safety of the client is a large part of the role. A Cose Protection Operative is also concerned with the larger picture for their clients’ security. Often, a Bodyguard will be working as a part of a larger security detail team, utilising security monitoring equipment and involving multiple operatives.

For example, a bodyguard will need to sweep the area before the client arrives to ensure that it’s safe for the client. They will do checks and vet staff as well maintaining other security protocols for the safety of the client.

How Much Do Bodyguards Earn?

For bodyguards working in Australia, the average salary is 77,000.  However, it can be much higher depending on the job. Obviously, this is an area where the pay goes up as the prestige of the client rises and with the more dangerous positions you take on.

For example, you might work for a company that provides a temporary security detail for a travelling celebrity as a part of a comic con exhibition. In this case your role would be localised to providing services just during the comic con, getting them to and from and monitoring fan interactions during the day. But if you were offered a position on the personal security team of a large corporate client then it might be something that pays more and takes more time to finalise the hiring process as you would likely be doing that role for years.

The role of a general Security Guard will be different than that of a Bodyguard.

Security Guard

A Security Guard can do many different jobs, but their main goal or purpose is to protect people and/or property.

Being a Security Guard is a lot more than just guarding the door at a night club and turning away those with the wrong shoes. It’s about vigilance, observation and above all else, helping people.

What Do Security Guards Study?

To become a Security Guard, you must study the Certificate II in Security Operations.

This course covers everything you’ll need to know to excel as a Security Guard. You’ll learn how to apply effective communication, how to negotiate, how to apply legal and procedural requirements, how to control people using empty hands techniques, how to assess risk and provide security services. You’ll also learn about patrolling, using defensive techniques, monitoring and controlling access and entry and exit of persons from facility and how to provide first aid.

Completing this course fee for service costs $1500 however most people are eligible for some government funding in QLD. This funding is called Certificate 3 Guarantee funding and you might be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  • be aged 15 years or older;
  • be no longer at school (with the exception of school students in Year 10, 11 and 12 undertaking a VET in School (VETiS) program;
  • permanently reside in QLD;
  • be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident (includes humanitarian entrant), temporary resident with the necessary visa and work permits on the pathway to permanent residency, or a New Zealand citizen; and
  • not hold, and not be enrolled in, a Certificate III or higher-level qualification, not including qualifications completed at school and foundation skills training. (This does not apply to AVI20118 Certificate II in Transport Security Protection).

If you are successful in gaining this funding it will bring the cost of your course down to either $14 or $42 depending on if you hold a current concession card.

There is also funding available for those wishing to gain their security licence in NSW and the NT. There are also scholarships available and payment plans you might be able to access.

Where Do Security Guards Work?

The great thing about the security industry is that there are so many different kinds of security roles you can do. Every industry needs security workers.

In security there is a job to suit everyone. If you’re into music or live gigs you could work crowd control for one of the large event spaces such as Suncorp Stadium or the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

If you’re into nightlife you could work crowd control for a nightclub or music venue in the Valley. If you’re a bit of thrill seeker, then working the night shift at the emergency department of the hospital must be something you are interested in.

If you’re great with people and have impeccable personal presentation, you could be a brilliant concierge at large corporate buildings and fancy hotels. If you’re good with people and handling situations with a bit of finesse, you would make a good retail security guard. This means you will work more day shifts but there would still be weekend work to do.

If you’re a bit of a night owl, the right role for you would be roving patrol work. For these jobs you work all night going round to different buildings, checking the alarm system and making sure no-one is hanging around where they shouldn’t be.

The same goes for gatehouse work. If you’re a night person the evening gatehouse shift is all about keeping an eye on everything, doing your rounds and monitoring the arrivals and departures.

There are security guards in every industry from hospitality to the art world, from logistics to corporate. Wherever you might want to work, there is a security role you can find there.

What’s a Job In Security Like?

Security jobs change drastically depending on the role you’re performing. If you’re working roving guard positions, for example, the role would include working nights and weekends, walking around the buildings and checking the security system and confirming everything is secure.

If you’re working as a retail security guard, you’ll likely have to monitor CCTV footage as well as working with your team, patrolling and helping people.

If you work in concierge then you will have to wear a nice suit, be extremely polite and helpful and also able to enforce the rules of that building.

Roles in security and the tasks you’ll perform can change dramatically depending on what your job is but there are some elements of the industry that are universal.

To excel in security, you’ll need to be well presented. These days in almost every security role you’ll either be wearing a suit or a uniform. You’ll need to kept the shirt pressed, and the shoes shined as it helps to communicate your authority in the position.

You will also need excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, as you will need to negotiate with people in your role and record everything that happens on your shift. Security guards must also be meticulous and methodical in all their work. All protocols and procedures have to be followed to the letter and everything gets documented.

And finally, you’ll need to have a genuine desire to help people because, at the end of the day, that is what this job is all about.

How Much Do Security Guards Make?

Security guards are paid under the Security Services Industry Award MA000016. Most guards begin their journey as casual employees and under this award as a causal employee working at a security officer level 1 position your hourly pay rate is $28.55 and it goes up to $31.55 for a level 5. If you work a Saturday as a casual, you can make $39.97 per hour at a level 1 and on Sunday, $51.39.

Under the same award as a full time or permanent part time staff member you can earn $22.84 per hour but if you work weekends or night shifts, the rate can go up as a high as $45.68 per hour and that’s just as a level 1 security guard. You can go all the way up to level 5 on that pay grade.

As security work involves a lot of nights and weekends, you can definitely make decent money working in security.

How Do I Get Started In The Security Industry?

If you’re interested in knowing more about security, you can check out the course here or book in to have a chat with one of our friendly course advisors. They are experts on the process of becoming a security guard and what you’ll need to do if you want to progress to being a bodyguard as well.

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