If you are wondering how to become a bodyguard, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of security, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Now commonly known as personal protection specialists or close protection officers (CPOs), bodyguards protect individuals or groups from risk of violence or kidnapping, or any situation which could be harmful to them.

    As a bodyguard your clients could include politicians, heads of industry, royalty, and TV, film and music celebrities.

    Typical responsibilities:

    protecting clients from threats, for example from terrorists, political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans
    checking out premises before clients arrive
    planning and research to identify and prevent potential threat or disruption
    keeping constantly alert to react to threatening situations
    accompanying clients on business and social visits
    driving clients to and from venues.

    You could specialise in residential security, making sure your client’s premises are secure. Alternatively, you could train to be a chauffeur specialising in defensive and evasive driving techniques.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good bodyguards include:

    quick reactions
    the ability to work as member of a team, and also the confidence to act on your own initiative
    good powers of observation and the ability to recognise potentially dangerous situations
    discretion and commitment to client confidentiality
    calmness under pressure
    the ability to adapt and improvise in response to situations
    good interpersonal skills
    decision-making and planning skills
    good written and verbal communication skills.

    How to become an close personal protection officer
    To be a close protection officer (CPO) you must be at least 18. Most CPOs have a background in the Armed Forces, police, prison services or martial arts, although this is not essential.

    You would need to be physically fit, with good eyesight and hearing and a presentable appearance. A driving licence is essential.

    It may be useful if you have knowledge of one or more foreign languages.

    To work as a CPO in England and Wales you are legally required to have a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. To get a licence you will need:

    identity and criminal record checks
    an SIA approved Level 3 qualification in close protection
    a recognised first aid certificate.
    The following close protection qualifications have been approved by SIA:

    Level 3 Certificate in Protective Security, awarded by Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College (BCUC)
    Level 3 BTEC Certificate in Close Protection Operations, awarded by Edexcel
    Level 3 Certificate in Close Protection, awarded by City and Guilds.

    Training and Development
    If you have completed close protection training recognised by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) in the last three years, and have worked in a close protection role since completing your training, you would not have to do further training. However, you would have to take a knowledge test and a practical skills assessment.

    Any of the following training will be recognised:

    Special Air Service Regiment Body Guard Course
    Royal Military Police Close Protection Course
    Metropolitan Police Royalty Protection/Special Branch Close Protection Course
    Police National Close Protection Courses including Northern Ireland
    Nemesis Group Close Protection Course
    Phoenix Close Protection Course.
    The SIA strongly recommends that you should still consider attending a 24-hour Refresher Course, even if you are eligible for the knowledge test and assessment. This is because if you have trained in either a police or military environment you may find the terminology and procedures are different in civilian work. The Refresher Course will give you the best opportunity of passing the assessment. Visit the SIA website for full details.

    Once you are working in the protective security industry, you could do the Foundation Degree in Protective Security Management at Buckingham Chilterns University College (BCUC). The course provides an understanding of close protection issues as well as business management, operations planning, and threat and risk assessment. By completing a SIA-approved Close Protection qualification you will earn 15 credits towards the Foundation Degree.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Most close protection officers (CPOs) are self-employed. Salaries for employed posts depend on the client or company, the length of the contract, the officer’s experience and the risks involved.

    Daily rates for CPOs in low risk areas can be around £100 to £150 a day plus expenses.
    CPOs with high levels of responsibility or working in high risk areas can earn up to and above £500 a day.

    Job Prospects
    You could be employed as a close protection officer (CPO) by state and private organisations as well as private individuals. CPOs working in the high risk, most highly-paid areas of the industry have usually been in the Special Forces or specialist police units.

    You would usually be self-employed on long- or short-term contracts, which can be anything from a few days to several years. Most contracts are negotiated by close protection companies and agencies, which are mainly based in London. They seldom advertise, usually employing CPOs with police or military experience, or by recommendation, so networking is vital.

    You may be able to specialise in surveillance, driving or residential security. With experience, you may be able to move into consultancy work.

    Useful security or armed forces resources:
    Security Industry Authority (SIA)
    PO Box 1293
    L69 1AX
    Tel: 0844 892 1025

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