Career Profile of Art Museum Security Guard

Security guards look on at the 2012 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art on February 27, 2012 in New York City.
••• Mario Tama/Getty Images

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.

An Art Museum Security Guard works on weekends, holidays and for special museum events and openings.

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.​

Education Needed

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).

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).

Duties Required

An Art Museum Security Guard watches over the visitors, staff and museum assets and equipment. Continuous tours of the museum premises may include patrolling the outdoors during inclement weather.

A Guard directs and informs visitors, so must be able to interact well with others as it is a consumer-service-oriented position.

An Art Museum Security Guard monitors the surveillance systems such as the CCTV system. A Guard also directs traffic and wayfinding for visitors, helps lost children, and provides 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.

Skills Required

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.

Career Opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, overall employment of museum staff is “projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.” 

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.