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Don't Hire a Bodyguard Until You Read This

This article will help guide you through hiring a bodyguard for personal protection.

Hiring a bodyguard or bodyguard agency can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t done it before. If you are currently experiencing a threat, choosing the right individual or business to entrust your safety to can feel overwhelming.

This article will help guide you through hiring a bodyguard for personal protection.

The first step is to think through your specific needs. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself before you get started.

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Questions to Ask Yourself

1. What do I need from a bodyguard?

Any competent bodyguard will at least provide close personal protection, deterring or engaging anyone that physically threatens you. This basic protection may be appropriate if you have a one-time need, like attending a low-risk event. However, you may have a more complex special occasion – or an ongoing security threat that you must strategically manage over several weeks, months, or years.  

Do you know what you need? If not, reputable private bodyguard companies usually offer a free or low-cost threat assessment to help you decide.

After a threat assessment, the bodyguard company may recommend:

  • One or more armed or unarmed bodyguards working in shifts
  • Upgrades to your home or office security
  • Surveillance monitoring services
  • Legal action to deter problematic individuals
  • A change to your daily routine
  • Security-oriented coaching for media, social media, and other communications

     

Note: If you’re currently experiencing a threatening situation, a private bodyguard company can provide immediate protection while working to create a better, long-term solution at the same time.

2. When do I need bodyguard services?

One of the primary budget considerations is how many hours a day and week you require bodyguard services. You can hire a bodyguard(s) for temporary, part-time, or full-time protection.

You can hire a bodyguard on a short-term basis if you face a pressing threat. For example, some executives and high-profile individuals hire bodyguards to protect them only while attending events. Other people need security services only while traveling to and from work. Or you may need to have bodyguard services covering you at all times.

Think about your security concerns and budget to make a balanced decision.

One of the primary budget considerations is how many hours a day and week you require bodyguard services. You can hire a bodyguard(s) for temporary, part-time, or full-time protection.

3. What's my realistic budget for hiring a bodyguard?

A qualified bodyguard is a highly trained professional willing to risk their lives to protect yours. Extreme dedication like this is not cheap.

The average American bodyguard’s salary ranges from $43,073 to $88,152. Per day, bodyguard services can cost anywhere from around $200 to over $900. That’s on average. Location, training, experience, and risk level can inform the actual cost.

Higher skilled, better-trained bodyguards with years of military and combat experience cost much more than a “big guy” bodyguard with only a certificate and no law-enforcement experience.

Read more about executive protection and the difference between bodyguard types here.

Higher skilled, better-trained bodyguards with years of military and combat experience cost much more than a "big guy" bodyguard with only a certificate and no law-enforcement experience.

4. Do I need armed or unarmed bodyguards?

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to be protected by armed bodyguards.

Bodyguards can use powerful firearms, batons, stun guns, tear gas, knives, and protective shields if they are licensed and permitted. Individual states determine what kind of weapons a private bodyguard can carry and use to defend you.

Armed guards are usually 20-30% more expensive and experienced.

Armed bodyguards must pass stringent regulations from the state or the FBI. In addition, they need firearms training, criminal background checks, and personality assessments.

If you don’t feel comfortable with armed guards, you can choose to hire a bodyguard who relies solely on deterrence, avoidance, crowd control, and other active threat avoidance techniques. But, of course, a weapon should never be the bodyguard’s first line of defense anyway – and experienced armed agents only use their firearms when necessary.

A Bodyguard's Perspective on Firearms

While unarmed security techniques are the preferred solution in 99% of situations, it’s usually best to have every tool at your disposal from a security provider’s perspective. Carrying firearms and other serious tools can ensure you are ready to face any security challenge. However, this requires a high level of professionalism so that weapons are not misused.  

An elite-level bodyguard is an experienced security professional who uses observation, situational awareness, real-time intelligence, and a well-developed understanding of human nature to provide:

  • Crowd control
  • Conflict resolution
  • Threat deterrence
  • Non-lethal physical defense
  • Lethal physical defense for extreme situations

Bodyguards can protect you without using a lethal weapon. Still, it’s often best to let them carry a firearm, especially if they think your situation requires it. 

Armed bodyguards must pass stringent regulations from the state or the FBI. In addition, they need firearms training, criminal background checks, and personality assessments.

5. Should I hire a bodyguard directly or go through a security company?

You have two options: hire bodyguards directly or go through a company.

To hire a bodyguard directly, you must take care of recruitment, interviews, background checks, state licenses, insurance, payroll, and taxes. 

If you hire a bodyguard company instead, you will still need to check the company out to ensure it’s legitimate, reputable, and qualified to provide services – but, after that, they will handle the rest of the work.  

Now that you have a better idea of your specific needs let’s take a moment to understand the security industry better – so that you can carefully choose how to get the level of protection you need.

Meet the Bodyguard Industry

While some bodyguards enter the field right out of school, most executive protection agents and elite-level bodyguards have a military or law enforcement background.

Bodyguard Training is Not Optional

Bodyguards typically undergo state-regulated, mandated training as well as some elective courses. There are also excellent private resources available to provide continuing education. In addition, bodyguard agencies usually have continuing education requirements and an annual in-house training regimen.

The Power to Arrest Course

The “Power to Arrest” course is California’s qualification training course. This course gives a fundamental understanding of the profession. Topics covered include:

  • Making arrests
  • Escalation and de-escalation techniques
  • Restraint techniques
  • Trespassing laws and enforcement
  • Weapons of mass destruction awareness
  • Terrorism awareness
  • Coordinating and sharing critical information with other security guards or police
  • Ethics, professionalism, and respectfulness
  • Public relations and interpersonal skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Crisis recognition and intervention
  • Recognizing harassment and discrimination
  • Handling substance abuse and mental illness
  • Observation, awareness of suspicious activity, patrolling, and documentation
  • Working with first responders and government services
  • The implications of various decisions
  • Criminal and civil codes, liabilities, risks, and other legalities

California Elective Security Courses

California offers elective courses. These cover:

  • Executive protection
  • Workplace violence
  • Crowd control
  • Civil disobedience and disturbance planning
  • Handling labor actions, disputes, and workplace stoppages
  • Further equipment training on monitoring, communicating, and alarm use
  • School security training
  • Emergency response
  • Working with employers
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Threat assessment
  • Bloodborne, environmental, and hazardous material safety
  • Access control
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Handling difficult people
  • Dealing with chemical agent threats
  • Preserving incident scenes
  • Driver safety
  • Courtroom demeanor and professionalism
  • Fire safety
  • Stun gun and taser use

Elite private bodyguard companies provide further training to their agents. Often, these private courses include enhanced physical protection and weapons training that state-run programs do not cover.

Private agencies often tailor their bodyguards’ training to meet clients’ specific security needs.

Bodyguards are State Regulated

Most states regulate the private security industry.

The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) regulates bodyguards in California. California’s private bodyguards must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a criminal history background check from California’s Department of Justice and the FBI
  • Complete the “Power to Arrest” training program

Individuals must meet these qualifications to become registered security guards and be permitted to protect persons or property.

There are additional regulations for bodyguards carrying weapons like firearms, batons, or tear gas. However, firearms permit requirements are the most stringent. To become authorized, California’s registered bodyguards must:

  • Be a United States citizen or permanent legal resident.
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Pass criminal background checks from the DOJ and FBI
  • Complete firearms-related training courses
  • Pass a personality assessment and demonstrate that they will use good judgment, restraint, and self-control if carrying firearms as a bodyguard

States may issue baton and tear gas permits to bodyguards who complete specific security courses and submit an application.

If you hire a bodyguard that doesn’t meet your local regulations, you can open yourself up to severe legal liability. It can be a real mess when someone gets injured on the job.

Elite Bodyguards are Talented Professionals with Intangible Qualities

Like any competitive industry, you don’t become a professional bodyguard simply by meeting a state’s bare minimum requirements.

An ideal bodyguard has physical capabilities, experience, training, intelligence, temperament, and good judgment.

And contrary to pop culture, the best bodyguard isn’t necessarily a mean-mugging bodybuilder or MMA fighter. Bodyguards must be physically fit. But most of the work relies on the individual agents’ intelligence, psychology, and threat management skills.

Professional bodyguards should have:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Social intelligence (comfortably interacting with all walks of life)
  • Mental fitness
  • Good judgment
  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • The right psychological profile
  • Personal discipline
  • Professional commitment
  • Verbal skills (projecting power, intimidation, verbal commands)
  • Professional communication skills
  • Poise

     

You want to hire a bodyguard who can have a chat with a loitering vagrant, speak with a local police sergeant about security concerns, and blend in at an evening gala.

Excellent soft skills separate elite-level bodyguards from fly-by-night operations and other eager but inexperienced agencies.

Now that you know what you need and a little about the security industry itself, it’s time to decide whether you want to hire bodyguards yourself or go through an agency.

How to Hire a Bodyguard or Private Bodyguard Company

Are you willing to hire a bodyguard yourself?

First, decide if you are willing to take on the risks of hiring a bodyguard yourself.

Bodyguards train to defend people at almost any cost. They are usually armed with deadly weapons and skilled in physical violence. Should anything go wrong, the person or entity that hired them can be held responsible for putting the public or other people in danger.

If you’re still comfortable with hiring a security agent directly, you must still decide if you are ready to be an employer. Hiring a bodyguard as a personal staff member means recruiting qualified talent, dealing with sick days, providing benefits, finding replacements, and other HR issues.

Questions to Consider Before Hiring a Bodyguard Directly

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you willing to take care of hiring, human resources, employee risk management, and other employment concerns by hiring a bodyguard?
  • Do you want to take care of insurance and expose yourself to potential liabilities?
  • Can you continually source employment talent to ensure that you can always have someone at hand?
  • Are you ready to manage employee benefits, find new bodyguards when one gets sick, or fire bodyguards who just aren’t working out?
  • Do you know how to examine bodyguarding licenses and credentials for fake or expired documentation?
  • Can you enforce a confidentiality agreement?
  • Are you familiar with the latest training resources that the state does not require but are still highly valuable? 
  • How much time do you have to keep up with the security industry?
  • Are you willing to pay for 3rd party intelligence reports?

     

You may have experience hiring personal staff and be willing to take on the extra challenge – or already have an estate manager or HR department ready to manage your employees. In your case, recruiting and hiring your bodyguards may not be a burden. You can use these quick checklists to help you sort out candidates.

What to Look for When Hiring a Bodyguard

Find candidates with:

  • Active professional bodyguarding association memberships
  • Current licensing, credentials, and insurance
  • Balanced temperament and the ability to perform in stressful conditions
  • Excellent language and communication skills, including bilingual or trilingual abilities, when the environment demands it
  • Great references and recommendations

Avoid candidates with:

  • Substance abuse issues
  • A bare-bones education
  • A lack of experience or long-term placements

Is a bodyguard agency the right choice for you?

The easiest way to hire a bodyguard is to use a reputable private bodyguard company.

Agencies perform multiple services:

  • Screen for highly qualified bodyguards
  • Pair their clients with the ideal match
  • Take care of employment, insurance, and other general business issues
  • Offer multiple types of security service

Good bodyguard agencies have several licensed, insured, and qualified bodyguards on staff at all times. These bodyguards typically come from different backgrounds and offer various specialties and capabilities.

An agency will pair their client with the bodyguard who best fits their security needs and lifestyle. The agency will also provide another bodyguard if that match doesn’t work out.

If you choose to use a bodyguard agency, you won’t have to worry about recruitment, background checks, psychological screening, salary negotiations, providing benefits, or putting your bodyguard through ongoing training.

Should you choose to hire a bodyguard company, here are some helpful tips:

How to choose the right private bodyguard company?

A private bodyguard company should provide you with the best candidates possible and make hiring them easy and convenient for you.

You want to find an agency that does far more when hiring bodyguards than you could do yourself. You may also want to find one that can manage any security services you already use – like a home surveillance system or trained dogs.

Find an agency that:

  • Offers bodyguards with varying skill sets
  • Runs background checks
  • Takes care of security insurance
  • Can integrate bodyguarding services with security systems
  • Acts as a dedicated security provider

You want to find a bodyguards you can trust with your life. That starts with finding an agency you can trust to acquire and manage those agents.

Ask about their existing clients

Ask the agency who their current client base is.  

Some agencies focus purely on apartment security, bank security, or armed guard trucks. Other companies provide Executive Protection for CEOs, while others handle special events. There are many different focus areas within the security industry, so it’s often best to find a provider that matches (or has a division that matches) your particular needs. Also, a reputable company will not hesitate to recommend the right company for your specific needs when they are not the right fit for you.

Look into the agency's leadership, management, and executive team

You always want to find out who is running the company and their leadership. What’s their personal experience in security? For example, some bodyguard agencies are owned and run by military veterans or ex law-enforcement, while inexperienced investors found others.

What’s their management and leadership experience? Look for a track record of success and leadership positions – it’s common to find different backgrounds: traditional MBAs, military officers, and opportunity-minded entrepreneurs.

How old is the company? Is this a new operation launched by entrepreneurs, a young company run by experienced professionals, or an established bodyguard agency with a long track record?

What business profile or corporate reputation do they have? First, you want to ensure that the company or its leadership has a good reputation. Many security agencies aim to work as discreetly as possible. In those cases, the core leadership should have good professional reputations and be able to provide references.

Here are some things you can ask them:

  • Can they give you documentation and proof of insurance?
  • Can they show your resumes (CVs)?
  • Does the agency of a specialty? What types of clients do they have?
  • Do they include communications or surveillance equipment?
  • What sets their bodyguard agency apart from the others?

What kind of customer service does the agency provide?

You want an agency that treats you right, takes care of your needs at any time and maintains your privacy.

It isn’t easy to know what a company’s customer service will be like before hiring them. However, by the time you get an initial estimate, you will have experienced a company’s website, phone communications, e-mail, and actual estimate. What is your instinct? Do you want to work with this company?

Ask the agency if they require a service contract and what those terms are. It is almost always appropriate to have a probationary period to opt out of any long-term agreements.

An ideal bodyguard has physical capabilities, experience, training, intelligence, temperament, and good judgment.

Find out how the agency chooses their bodyguards

Ask the agency for their hiring standards. You don’t want to pick a company that staffs bodyguards with only the basic qualifications.

  • How do they vet their agents?
  • Do their agents know first aid and CPR?
  • Are their bodyguards licensed to carry weapons?

Interview the candidates

You need to feel comfortable spending extensive time with the bodyguard you hire. That’s why it’s a good idea to interview or chat with potential hires – even if you work with an agency.

Here are some things you can ask them:

  • When did you have to act under pressure?
  • What are some situations you had to step in and physically protect a client?
  • What made you decide to become a bodyguard?
  • What training do you have beyond the regulatory requirements?
  • Do you have special expertise in any areas?

Once you’ve worked through your questions and checklists, it usually comes down to chemistry and a gut feeling. Hire a competent, calm bodyguard who you feel safe around.

Good luck and stay safe out there!

Once you've worked through your questions and checklists, it usually comes down to chemistry and a gut feeling. Hire a competent, calm bodyguard who you feel safe around.

Bodyguard Protection by Global Risk Solutions

Global Risk Solutions is a trusted executive protection company for some of Northern California’s top CEOs (references available upon request).  We offer a wide range of agents and support staff to provide custom and comprehensive security coverage. Our VIP executive protection team is composed of both men and women that are:

  • Former military personnel (special forces to the highest levels).
  • Licensed professionals in various fields (law enforcement, private investigators, licensed private security officers).
  • Individuals trained by Global Risk Solutions’ highly skilled instructors on topics such as team dynamics, intelligence gathering, surveillance detection operations, driving courses, weapons, and specialized topics.


When you hire Global Risk Solutions, you can expect courteous and professional agents who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure your safety.

When you hire Global Risk Solutions, you can expect courteous and professional agents who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure your safety.

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