It’s not often you hear children say they aspire to be security officers when they grow up. Given how rapidly today’s security industry is evolving to be the next big business asset, though, we may start hearing it more.

From Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and large airports, to hospitals, educational institutions and small businesses, modern security professionals are adding value to almost every business sector, doing far more than protecting others. They’re also using a range of business and operational skills, and the latest technology, to not only guard but also provide risk assessment and proactive planning services.

To better understand the role of a security workforce, it’s time to re-think these common misconceptions:

One security workforce suits all. There’s a common stereotype that security services are a standard commodity best evaluated on price. This couldn’t be farther from the current reality. Companies providing security workforce capabilities are differentiating themselves based on the quality and approach of their offerings, and their ability to adapt to the specific security challenges facing any corporate or institutional environment. Not only is it possible to tailor a security program to unique business or industry challenges, but today’s security workforce is equipped to learn on the fly and make adjustments accordingly. 

A security workforce operates primarily on paper. There was a time when security officers carried notebooks while on patrol to record incidents, or filed reports on paper. There was no easy way to sort through those paper reports to glean valuable business insights. Today, however, guards are equipped with state-of-the-art mobile devices that connect to other business systems in real time. When an incident happens, reports are recorded electronically and automatically coded, making the data easily searchable in the future. This means front-line data can be used in meaningful ways to better understand the threats facing businesses and how to proactively guard against them.

Security officers are not well-educated or trained. You might have heard it said that ‘anyone’ can get a job in the security industry, but the reality is that today’s security professionals are expected to have well-rounded practical knowledge and skills, including certifications. They must also stay current with trends and tactics by participating in a range of professional development courses and webinars on topics such as cybersecurity, enterprise security risk management, active shooter response, biometric technology, access control devices and security practices for high-rise buildings. The performance expectation placed on a security workforce is extremely high, and continuous professional training is now a job requirement.

A security workforce needs to be physically strong. The suggestion that security officers must be strong and fit, regardless of their role, is far from the truth. Modern protection relies more on intelligence than a show of force, meaning security professionals must be skilled in logistics, negotiations, diplomacy and detailed planning and know how to perform accurate threat assessments. As the security industry evolves, the reliance on a brains-over-brawn mentality becomes greater to ensure security professionals are quick thinkers who know how to use the latest technology and devices.

A security workforce doesn’t require strong communication skills. Regardless of the type of facility they’re securing, how large a crowd they’re controlling or what task they’re performing, it’s essential that security officers be effective communicators. That’s because they’re now called upon to provide a unique level of customer service, one that conveys their knowledge and expertise. There’s no room for ambiguity — they must know the exact words to use to convey a message as precisely as possible, both in person and via a communications device. Whether assisting with a lock-down, checking identification at an entrance, patrolling grounds or providing safety awareness data, security officers are expected to be helpful, enthusiastic and professional at all times.

Debunking these myths is important to ensure the perceived role of the modern security workforce evolves along with the industry. Today’s security officers are a necessary business asset who are highly trained, qualified and tech-savvy – fueling exciting career opportunities both for today and the next generation.