What Does an Art Museum Security Guard Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019

An art museum security guard helps to provide a safe environment for museum employees and visitors and to safeguard the fine art and equipment by protecting the museum from all types of threats such as theft, fire or any other type of danger.

Besides protecting the art by walking through the galleries, an art museum security guard engages with visitors by answering their questions, reuniting lost children with their caregivers, and making sure that visitors do not approach, touch or photograph the artwork.

Even though an art background is not required, museum guards are often asked about the artwork on view, which is why this position is often filled by artists. Several famous artists who have worked as Museum Security Guards include Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Robert Ryman, and Fred Wilson.​

Art Museum Security Guard Duties & Responsibilities

An art museum security guard handles a variety of duties and responsibilities, such as the following:

  • Watching over the visitors, staff and museum assets and equipment.
  • Continuous tours of the museum premises may include patrolling the outdoors during inclement weather
  • Directing and informing visitors, so must be able to interact well with others as it is a consumer-service-oriented position
  • Monitoring the surveillance systems such as the CCTV system
  • Directing traffic and wayfinding for visitors
  • Helping lost children
  • Providing crowd control and security for all major museum events

A Guard must be able to expertly handle emergencies and to report any hazardous conditions or irregularities to the appropriate personnel. Light office computer work such as emailing and writing reports may be required.

Art Museum Security Guard Salary

An art museum security guard's salary varies based on the level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors. The following information is for security guards:

  • Median Annual Salary: $32,680 ($15.71 /hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $55,520 ($26.69/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $23,020 ($11.07/hour)

Education, Training & Certification

An art museum security guard does not need to have a four-year degree, but may be required to carry certain certifications.

  • Education: A college degree is not required to be an art museum security guard, but a High School diploma or GED, or job-related work experience is needed, with the addition of several certifications (listed below).
  • Certifications: A Guard must be trained and certified in First Aid, CPR, and AED. In the USA, getting Cleet Certified may be a prerequisite for employment. Each state will have different requirements. For example, in New York, a Guard should be a Certified Protection Officer (CPO) and possess a New York State Security Guard license, a Fireguard Certification for Places of Public Assembly (F-03), and Supervision of Fire Alarms (S95).

    Art Museum Security Guard Skills & Competencies

    • An art museum security guard needs excellent public relations skills as the position requires constant interaction with visitors, museum staff, and others.
    • A Guard needs to be physically fit with strong reflexes and able to climb, stoop, crawl, stretch and stand for hours on end. A Guard needs to have excellent hearing, vision, and sense of smell in order to be acutely aware of the surrounding environment. In addition, a Guard needs to lift, carry and operate a 50-pound fire extinguisher.
    • A Guard needs to be proficient in using a 2-way radio and have a valid Driver's License.
    • A Guard also needs good written and verbal skills as writing reports and speaking to visitors is a big part of the job. Written reports document any unusual observations or occurrences and daily monitoring of surveillance activities.

    Job Outlook

    According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, overall employment of museum staff is projected to grow 13% through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, which is 7%. However, this statistic includes museum curators, archivists and other job position. The growth for art museum security guards may not be as high as for other museum staff.

    The Bureau does not post specific statistics for art museum security guard jobs, but the available jobs would just be a small portion of that amount.

    Work Environment

    Art museum security guards work within the museum, although they may also be responsible for patrolling the outside grounds of the property as well.

    Work Schedule

    Security guards often work in 8-hour rotating shifts, and nighttime and weekend hours are common. An art museum security guard works on weekends, holidays and for special museum events and openings.

    How to Get the Job


    PREPARE A RESUME

    Check online for a template to use for your resume format. Add your experience, and highlight experience and activities that are relevant for the security guard job i an art museum.


    APPLY

    Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. You can also visit the websites of individual art museums to look for job openings.

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