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Bodyguard Close protection officer (CPO)

Bodyguards protect individuals or groups from the risk of violence, kidnapping and other harmful situations.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a Close Protection licence issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to work in England or Wales.

For this you’ll need :

  • a Close Protection qualification
  • a first aid certificate
  • a criminal records check for the UK and any time spent abroad or in the armed forces
  • to be aged 18 or over

Some employers may prefer you to have a police or military background for work in high risk areas. They may also prefer to take people aged 25 or over for security reasons.

A driving licence is essential, and it may be useful if you can speak more than one language.

The SIA has more information on qualifications, training and becoming a bodyguard.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to adapt in different situations
  • quick reactions and the ability to take decisive action
  • excellent observational skills
  • the ability to stay calm in potentially dangerous situations

3. What you'll do

You may work for state or private organisations, as well as with private individuals. Your clients could be celebrities, public figures, heads of industry or royalty.

You may work as part of a larger close protection team with other CPOs and professional drivers, or offer your services as an individual.

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • protecting clients from threats like terrorism, or from political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans
  • checking out premises before clients arrive
  • planning to identify and prevent potential threats or disruption
  • staying constantly alert to react to threatening situations
  • accompanying clients on business and social visits
  • driving clients to and from venues

You could specialise in a particular area, like residential security or defensive and evasive driving techniques.

4. Salary

Your earnings will depend on the client or company, the length of the contract, your experience and the risks involved.

Daily rates for CPOs in low risk areas can be around £100 to £150 plus expenses.

CPOs with high levels of responsibility or working in high risk areas can earn around £500 a day.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You may work as part of a 24-hour protection team. This could involve working long shifts in the day, at night or at weekends. You could work indoors and outdoors.

Depending on your client you could also be required to attend social events.

You'll usually be required to travel. You may also need to spend time away from home, sometimes overseas.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in surveillance, driving or residential security, or move into risk assessment consultancy work.

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Last updated: 11 April 2017