Career Overview: What I Do As an Executive Body Guard

Private security is no joke for people who can be targeted by criminals or overzealous fans. But it’s not just celebrities who need protection; High-profile corporate businessmen can face threats too, as well as wealthy people regardless of their prominence.

But I am oversimplifying their role by calling them guards or bodyguards. Proper security requires research, preparation, and effective communication between teams and individuals, which has nothing to do with brute force. An Executive Protection Specialist reached out to us to share his career and explain what it’s like to work in the security industry.

Tell us about your current position and how long you have been in it.

I am currently working as an Executive Protection Specialist (EPS) for a wealthy Southern California businessman. EP Specialist is the technical name for what most people would call “bodyguard.” Although most of us know that this phrase does not reflect what our work entails. As most professional books on protective safety say, your most important resource is your mind, not your muscles.

There are different types of EP. The scope ranges from high-threat defense overseas with heavily armed teams, to corporate EPs where a medium-sized team works to protect the “principal” [protected client], to celebrity security, where only one EP is recruited to protect the chief. The EP that I am describing here can be described as a corporate EP.

I have been in my current position for two years. When I was hired, my security experience was somewhat limited (military training, emergency medical care, political science degree, etc.), so in my first position I worked in the “command center”. As with most EP jobs, the least experienced people start out by working in an operations center that supports a defense team 24 hours a day. Only after someone becomes competent in this area will he move on to work in the field.

In my two years in my current position, I have ensured the safety of our directors at concerts, sporting events, performances, domestic travel and minimal overseas travel. I have also undertaken risk assessments related to travel intelligence and threat incident management. Online investigations are also an important part of this work.

What prompted you to choose your career path?

Two main factors influenced my decision to go this route. First, there was the “push” factor. As a 21-year-old political scientist, Marine reservist and OCS candidate, I was in crisis. In political science, we call the presentation of information that conflicts with your pre-existing beliefs cognitive dissonance. And that was at the center of my crisis.

After I finished my first session of the Platoon Leader Class (US Marine Officer Candidate School), I started asking myself tough questions about US foreign policy. One PLC Juniors statement stuck in my head: A 20-year-old 1st Lieutenant stood in front of my PLC company and gave a lecture in which he asked, “What purpose do wars serve?” He went on to explain that “wars are fought for political ends.” And in this obvious and simple statement, I began to lose interest in a military career. Needless to say, when I returned to OCS for PLC Seniors a year later, I was kicked out in week 5 (out of 6). OCS commander Colonel Witter told me that he had no doubts that I would successfully complete my OCS training, but I did not have the “character” they were looking for.

Once I burned that bridge, so to speak, I narrowed my perspective to (A) a job in a research institution / think tank or (B) corporate security / management protection. Then comes the attraction factor. I’ll be completely honest: executive defense sounds cool and I knew the money would be decent. So, I reached out to an old Marine colleague of mine who was doing the EP and he helped me move in the right direction with readings and training courses.

How did you get a job as an Executive Protection Specialist? What kind of education and experience did you need?

I asked [my former Marine colleague] what I can do to be a good candidate for the MP. He gave me a list of books to read and a number of courses worth taking. After reading about five books he recommended and spending $ 2,000 on an EMT certification course, I got through my first interview for an EP job. I got interviewed about the opportunity to work in the operations center (command center) of the EP group and I got the job.

My education at the time looked like this: Military Police at USMCR (6 years old), Bachelor of Political Science, EMT Certification, Junior Martial Arts Instructor and minimal experience in private security (and I had a watchdog ticket – more on that below – as well as unprotected firearms permit and CPR card).

And one more thing: After working in the command center for about 9 months and having mastered this aspect of our work, I shelled out about $ 4,000 to pay myself through the esteemed 7-day EP course. Then I was given the opportunity to work in the field and eventually act as a team leader at some events.

Do you need any licenses or certificates?

This will vary from state to state. In California, any security officer must have a Security Guard Card. This is a California license giving you permission to work as a security guard (or similar work). For this license, you pay a couple hundred dollars and take a three-hour course followed by a short exam. This is the only requirement of the law; the rest is at the discretion of your hiring manager.

This is not required, but I am certified as an Ambulance Technician and encourage others to do the same. This is a required certification to work in the USA as an EMT. This training will help you evaluate patients and provide emergency care. This is one of those certifications that will help you stand out from the crowd. At a minimum, most EP positions will require a CPR / AED certification from the AHA (American Heart Association).

Another important license is the CCW (Concealed Carry) Permit. Having one might impress some employers, but others won’t care because they can always help you get one in the future if you need it. The hiring manager cares more about hiring someone with common sense than someone who thinks he or she is a cowboy.

What misconceptions do people often have about your job?

A popular misconception about EP specialists is that they are large, dragging Neanderthals. This is not true.

Celebrity EP may be an exception, but celebrities have their own tastes and preferences. The EP has a place / role for physically large and intimidating defenders (like Google 50 Cent and his bodyguards). However, this is not the same in the corporate EP that I am focusing on. Celebrities’ attitudes towards a bodyguard’s special looks can be compared to their preference for one handbag style to show off. This is part of the show.

The EP is much more than just a heartbeat fool staring over your shoulder (but I’m not underestimating the importance of the celebrity role in the EP). I would like to point out that no one sees behind-the-scenes physical and emotional labor. what it takes to support the defensive team. This includes travel information, threat assessment, threat incident management, logistics coordination for the principal, and more. In the future, top EP professionals will have backgrounds in computer science, open source intelligence, and psychology.

What’s your average uptime?

I usually work 50 hours a week. I do not work two days in a row, but I may be asked to come on weekends or early on other days. Hours are usually a combination of day or night shifts. Sometimes there are 70-80 hour weeks, but this is rare with a fully staffed team.

What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?

First, spend some of your time reading and learning the theory / methods of interpersonal communication. This comes in handy when you inevitably have to work with strong personalities (on or off your team). I have found that How to Win Friends and Influence People and The 48 Laws of Power help you navigate these waters.

Second, the best way to avoid questions about your team / security practices from outsiders is to act stupidly. When you are approached and asked questions, the easiest way is to behave ignorantly. If some schmuck thinks you’re an idiot, it doesn’t hurt you. It will hurt you to play the role of a tough bodyguard and divulge confidential information that the enemy can use.

Third, the simplest but most insightful piece of advice I’ve ever received is, “Remember, leaders are ordinary people … they just have a lot of money.” Many EP professionals (and their managers) are of the opinion that the slightest thing will upset executives, or that if the executives even see you (patrolling their property, etc.), you will alarm them. I [think] it’s okay to do our job without any remorse if you partly offend the leaders.

What are you doing differently from your colleagues or colleagues in the same profession?

I take a page from Seth Godin’s book, Lynchpin . In this book, Seth tells us that we must become the “core” of our organization – the person who, if they disappeared, the organization would cease to be the same. I put all my energy into becoming the most valuable member of our team. When employee X quit and I took over their responsibilities and then set the standard several times higher, my manager knew I was worth holding on to. And after I continued to collect more and more responsibility, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, I became irreplaceable. Note that acquiring such value for your team gives you great opportunities when it comes to negotiating with your manager for higher salaries, training courses, etc.

What’s the worst part of a job and how do you deal with it?

The worst part of my job is the lack of social life. The situation looks like this: work long hours and make a lot of money and have a decaying relationship, or be less available to work and therefore skip promotions but maintain a healthy relationship. This is a zero sum game. And I’m not sure the leaders even know that we are putting our souls into their protection.

I recently found a solution, after having struggled with the idea for the past 9 months: work independently as a security consultant or find a niche in security to specialize in where the dynamics are different (more pay; less over time; more brainwashing tasks). I follow the first. My goal in the near future is to become an independent security consultant. And my website is a platform that will help me achieve this goal.

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?

The most enjoyable part is traveling to areas that I might not otherwise have traveled to. I also enjoy reading and doing research. Collecting and analyzing information from open sources is a large part of my work, and also what intrigued me the most. I can write, so when I have the opportunity to present my findings – be it travel intelligence or the findings of an investigation – I enjoy putting original ideas on paper and making sense of the mess of data. For this I have to thank my political science student.

What advice can you give to people who need to use your services?

My best advice is to speak to a reputable organization that provides advocacy and counseling services. Before embarking on any protection scheme, you should carefully assess your particular situation. In your particular case, there may not even be an excuse for defensive security, or perhaps security is not the best way to mitigate your risks. Major players in the industry are Gavin De Becker and Associates and AS Solution .

How are you “progressing” in your field?

First, you need to put your job ahead of your social life. This is a controversial statement, but in my experience it is completely true. Whether you are the most senior or junior EP professional, you will be asked to come early (and stay late) on the days you are scheduled for work, and then asked to come on the days when you are not working. scheduled for work. Even the EP manager has to answer phone calls from executives and the command center outside of business hours.

Second, you must continue to develop professionally, even if you work hard. If you are not learning something new, you are lagging behind the rest. Professional development can include reading safety literature, learning a new skill, or teaching a skill. You must want to learn. This is true for those moving from working in the command center to working as EPS in the field, as well as EPS in the field who want to transition to EP team management.

What do people underestimate or overestimate in what you do?

People underestimate the extensive research needed to support a protective safety program. Whichever event executives attend with (or without) security personnel, a team member in the command center views all public social media posts at the event in real time. In addition, before the security team attends an event with the leaders, they collect research about the event (including past events), attendees, cumulative crime, etc., in order to assess the level of threat at the event. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

How much money can you expect at your job?

Starting with a job in the command center, you can expect to earn approximately $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 per year (overtime included). With a couple of years of experience in the field, an EP Specialist can expect to profit from $ 60,000 to $ 90,000. And after significant experience, an EP program manager can expect to earn anywhere from $ 100,000 to $ 200,000.

What advice would you give to those who want to become your profession?

I advise aspiring EP professionals to find someone who makes a living doing it, and then go have a coffee with them, asking every question you can think of. If you find yourself still curious, then start building up your security IQ: read, take courses, join the army, join law enforcement (will improve resume, but law enforcement is not the same as EP) and get an education.

This interview has been edited for clarity.


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