What does a security manager do? (With skills and FAQs)
Updated 15 May 2023
Security managers play an important role in ensuring the safety of staff and visitors to an organisation. They also make sure that the buildings and sites they operate in remain safe from damage or harm. If you're interested in a rewarding and varied career in which you can play an active role in keeping people safe, you might want to consider going into security. In this article, we discuss what a security manager does on a day-to-day basis and the skills required to perform the role effectively, plus some of the different ways you could get into the profession.
What does a security manager do?
Security managers supervise the workforce that looks after the security and safety of the people who work in a building and visitors to the site. They usually are experienced security professionals with a good knowledge of public safety, who have worked their way up to a supervisory position. A security manager's exact role and duties might depend on the size and nature of the organisation they work for and the nature of the site they work to protect. Some common duties of a security manager include:
overseeing the work of the security team as they work to protect a building or site
planning work rotas to ensure the company's security needs are covered
monitoring CCTV and alarms in a site's control room
carrying out risk assessments to determine the safety of the site
coordinating the response to any incidents
recruiting, hiring and training new staff and providing ongoing training to current employees
coordinating with police and other security agencies to manage security risks
organising specific security for events, VIP visits, or other occasions when there are more people present than usual
developing, testing and improving security procedures such as evacuations in the case of fire or threat
investigating any security breaches
controlling access to certain buildings and areas within the site
What skills does a security manager need?
If you're interested in a career as a security manager, it's a good idea to begin developing the skills that could help you to impress interviewers and eventually perform the role successfully. Here are some of the skills that could be useful for this role:
Security managers oversee the rest of the security team within their organisation. While the number of people they directly supervise depends on the size and security needs of the company, all security managers use leadership skills to some extent. This might include effectively delegating tasks, providing constructive feedback to the people who work under them, and developing and delivering training to more junior employees.
Knowledge of public safety and security
Most security managers go into the role after several years of working in more junior security positions. This means that they have extensive knowledge of the best practices and procedures for keeping the public safe. Many of these professionals have also studied these concepts through apprenticeships or training courses, which provides them with the required knowledge to perform their job effectively.
Attention to detail
Security managers are responsible for the overall security of a site. This means they continually assess the situation to make sure that there are no security breaches, and that everything is safe. Security managers usually have a very developed sense of attention to detail, which allows them to quickly pick up on any abnormalities that could represent a risk.
Customer service skills
Security managers often liaise with members of the public, including other employees at the company they work for, visitors or guests. Although security is not primarily a customer service role, having strong customer service skills can help security managers to better manage any conversations with the public. If you're interested in working as a security manager in the future, you could begin by developing transferrable skills such as verbal communication.
Basic IT skills
Security managers might use various software and computer programmes to fulfil their duties. This might include programmes that allow them to communicate quickly with colleagues, or software related to the monitoring of CCTV cameras and alarms in the building. This means that security managers need at least basic computer literacy to help them perform their roles effectively.
The ability to monitor your performance and accept criticism
The ability to monitor your performance and accept criticism without getting upset is a good general skill to develop for any career. It's particularly important for security managers, as a lapse in their standard or performance could have serious consequences for the safety of the public. For this reason, security managers consistently assess their performance in addition to the performance of the team they manage.
The ability to remain calm under pressure
Working as a security manager can be a high-pressure job, as it directly involves protecting the public from harm. When there is an incident, it's important for security managers to be able to remain calm and coordinate a response. Not only does this ensure the continued safety of the company's staff and visitors, but it can also help more junior security employees to remain calm themselves.
Related: 8 essential security guard skills
Different paths to becoming a security manager
There are several different routes to becoming a security manager, as there isn't a specific qualification that's needed for the role. If you're interested in becoming a security manager, you could get into the role through one of the following methods:
You could get a security manager's job through an apprenticeship such as a security first-line manager's advanced apprenticeship. Most people following this route already have some relevant experience in the security industry. Apprenticeships generally last between one and five years, depending on the level of study and include both practical work experience and classroom learning.
Many security managers got into the role by working in more junior security roles and working their way up over several years. For example, you could find a job as a security officer and then become a team supervisor through on-the-job training and promotion. Eventually, you could work your way up to becoming a security manager.
Some professionals may be able to apply directly to security manager roles. This would usually require you to have considerable experience in a similar role related to security, even if you've never worked as a security manager specifically. For example, those with experience in the police, armed forces or prison service may be able to apply their experience to a security manager's role.
Security manager FAQs
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about working as a security manager:
What are the requirements for the role?
Security managers are usually subject to advanced background checks before employment. The employer might require you to apply for a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Depending on your employer, they may also require you to have a full UK driving licence.
What salary can I earn as a security manager?
The average salary for a security manager is £37,836 per year. You may earn more or less than this depending on your level of experience, the size and nature of the organisation you work for and where you're located in the country. For example, the average salary for security managers in London is £51,907 per year.
What career progression is available for a security manager?
After several years of working as a security manager, you could have a promotion opportunity to advance to an area security manager role, where you would be responsible for overseeing the security of several shops, offices or branches across a geographical area. Some security managers also choose to specialise as consultants, providing advice on security matters for businesses or government agencies. You could specialise in a particular type of security work, such as close protection, anti-terror measures or conflict management.
Where do security managers work?
Security managers could work in any organisation with a need for security to keep its staff, visitors and buildings safe from harm. This could include both public organisations and private businesses. For example, security managers might work in shops and shopping centres, office buildings or residential buildings.
What are working conditions like for a security manager?
Security managers might work in offices, control rooms or visit sites. There may be some requirement to work unsociable hours, such as weekends or evenings. Depending on your organisation, they might require you to wear a uniform. The role might include spending a lot of time on your feet, which means that strong stamina and physical fitness are important.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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