Unhap­py in your job: What opti­ons do you have as a secu­ri­ty guard?

Unhappy in your job: What options do you have as a security guard?

It is true that working in the pri­va­te secu­ri­ty indus­try can be a tough job. Working con­di­ti­ons are real­ly bad in some are­as. Howe­ver, the situa­ti­on also varies signi­fi­cant­ly from com­pa­ny to com­pa­ny. It is not uncom­mon for a chan­ge to offer bet­ter care­er oppor­tu­ni­ties, the chan­ce to gain new expe­ri­ence and a more com­for­ta­ble working environment.

Step 1: Ana­ly­se the situa­ti­on carefully!

It is important to know what the cau­ses of their own dis­sa­tis­fac­tion are and know your own moti­va­tors. Ana­ly­se the reasons for dis­sa­tis­fac­tion: Iden­ti­fy exact­ly what makes you unhap­py. Is it the working envi­ron­ment, the tasks, the team, the remu­ne­ra­ti­on or the cor­po­ra­te cul­tu­re? The bet­ter you under­stand the cau­ses, the easier it will be to find a solution.
Often the pri­va­te envi­ron­ment also plays a role or a chan­ge in per­so­nal needs. The­r­e­fo­re, also con­sider the­se aspects in your analysis!

Step 2: Think through your opti­ons and weigh them up!

A next step would be a Brain­stor­ming and rese­arch regar­ding the opti­ons available:
What are my chan­ces? How high are the risks? What hap­pens if…? etc.
Many of the fol­lo­wing opti­ons cost No money, only over­co­ming. Howe­ver, some opti­ons are quite time-con­sum­ing and cost-inten­si­ve or even leng­thy.

  1. Find out about your rights: Make sure you are awa­re of your rights as an employee in the pri­va­te secu­ri­ty indus­try. This includes things like mini­mum wage, working time laws, holi­day entit­le­ments and over­ti­me rules. If you know your rights, you can ensu­re that your employ­er respects them.
  2. Talk to your employ­er: If you are dis­sa­tis­fied with your pay or working con­di­ti­ons, you should tell your employ­er. Per­haps an open dis­cus­sion can help bring about impro­ve­ments. Per­haps your employ­er can also offer you oppor­tu­ni­ties to train or spe­cia­li­se to impro­ve your care­er pro­s­pects and opportunities.
  3. Chan­ge the field of acti­vi­ty (within the com­pa­ny): The pri­va­te secu­ri­ty indus­try is mul­ti­face­ted. Many pri­va­te secu­ri­ty pro­vi­ders offer dif­fe­rent ser­vices. May­be ano­ther field is bet­ter sui­ted for you. Talk to your super­vi­sor about it, app­ly intern­al­ly for ano­ther job. Some­ti­mes an inter­nal trans­fer to ano­ther area of respon­si­bi­li­ty helps.
  4. Join the uni­on: In Ger­ma­ny, the­re are trade uni­ons that stand up for the rights of workers — for the guar­ding ser­vice, this is the Ver­ein­te Dienst­leis­tungs­ge­werk­schaft (ver.di). If you beco­me a mem­ber, you can bene­fit from their coll­ec­ti­ve bar­gai­ning power and fight tog­e­ther with other workers for bet­ter working con­di­ti­ons and hig­her wages.
  5. Search for fur­ther trai­ning oppor­tu­ni­ties: If you con­ti­nue your edu­ca­ti­on or spe­cia­li­se, you can impro­ve your care­er pro­s­pects and often earn signi­fi­cant­ly hig­her wages. Think about what addi­tio­nal qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons could be hel­pful for your job and look for appro­pria­te trai­ning oppor­tu­ni­ties. You will have more opti­ons for action after­wards and be more in demand.
  6. Net­work with othersMany job oppor­tu­ni­ties come about through recom­men­da­ti­ons and per­so­nal cont­acts. In addi­ti­on, cont­act with others offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to exch­an­ge expe­ri­en­ces. If you have a strong net­work, this can help one gain new per­spec­ti­ves. In addi­ti­on to per­so­nal exch­an­ge, online plat­forms such as Xing or Lin­ke­din are recommended.
  7. Look for ano­ther employ­er: If all the abo­ve steps do not lead to impro­ve­ments, it may be wise to look for ano­ther employ­er. The­re are cer­tain­ly com­pa­nies in the pri­va­te secu­ri­ty indus­try that offer bet­ter working con­di­ti­ons and hig­her wages.
  8. Last but not least: Do it bet­ter and start your own busi­ness! Of cour­se, this step should be very well thought out. It is often an opti­on to beco­me self-employ­ed on the side and thus start gra­du­al­ly with less risk. Howe­ver, remem­ber that your pre­vious employ­er must play along. One pos­si­bi­li­ty could be, for exam­p­le, free­lan­ce work as a lec­tu­rer in the secu­ri­ty industry.

Step 3: Set your per­so­nal goals!

Only if you know as pre­cis­e­ly as pos­si­ble what you want to achie­ve can you work towards it in a con­cre­te way. In order to moti­va­te ones­elf, it is very sen­si­ble to Wri­te down and visua­li­se your own goals. It can also be hel­pful to use the so-cal­led SMART rule to set one’s own goals.

The SMART rule is an acro­nym used as a gui­de for the For­mu­la­ti­on of clear and well-defi­ned goals ser­ves. It helps to for­mu­la­te goals in such a way that they are rea­li­stic and achie­va­ble. The SMART rule stands for the fol­lo­wing criteria:

  1. Spe­ci­fic (Spe­ci­fic): The goal should be cle­ar­ly and pre­cis­e­ly for­mu­la­ted so that the­re is litt­le room for inter­pre­ta­ti­on and one is ful­ly awa­re of one’s goal.
  2. Mea­sura­ble (Mea­sura­ble): The goal should be mea­sura­ble so that pro­gress can be moni­to­red and suc­cess objec­tively asses­sed. It can be defi­ned by quan­ti­ta­ti­ve or qua­li­ta­ti­ve indicators.
  3. Exe­cu­ta­ble (Achie­va­ble): The goal should be achie­va­ble. It should be chal­len­ging but achie­va­ble by you with the means available.
  4. Rea­li­stic (Rea­li­stic): The goal should be rea­li­stic, i.e. it should be pos­si­ble to imple­ment it as inten­ded under the actu­al given frame­work conditions.
  5. Ter­mi­na­ted (Time-bound): The goal should have a clear time frame by when it should be achie­ved. A clear dead­line pro­mo­tes moti­va­ti­on and focus on achie­ving the goal.

Here is an exam­p­le of a goal for­mu­la­ted accor­ding to the SMART rule:

Non-SMART goal: I want to earn more money.

SMART goal: I would like to increase my month­ly inco­me by 20% by com­ple­ting a fur­ther trai­ning cour­se to beco­me a cer­ti­fied pro­tec­tion and secu­ri­ty worker in the next six months and then being employ­ed by my employ­er directly.

By app­ly­ing the SMART rule, the goal beco­mes con­cre­te, mea­sura­ble, achie­va­ble, rele­vant and has a clear time­frame. This increa­ses the likeli­hood that you will suc­cessful­ly achie­ve your goal.


Step 4: Make a “batt­le plan” to achie­ve your goals!

Now it’s time for imple­men­ta­ti­on plan­ning. Plan the mea­su­res that con­tri­bu­te to your goals, e.g.:

It often makes sen­se to approach dif­fe­rent approa­ches in par­al­lel and also to have a plan B (and plan C).
Prio­ri­ti­se your goals! Link the dif­fe­rent actions to your goals. Make calen­dar ent­ries and work in a focu­sed way to achie­ve inter­me­dia­te goals and milestones!
Don’t let set­backs throw you off track! Stay per­sis­tent, focu­sed and positive!


I hope that the­se tips will help you to impro­ve your indi­vi­du­al situation.

Who does not need to pass an examination?

Who does not need to pass an examination?

Only secu­ri­ty staff requi­re a com­pe­tence exami­na­ti­on, which is spe­cial guar­ding acti­vi­ties accor­ding to § 34a GewO or wish to set up their own secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny. The acti­vi­ties that may only be car­ri­ed out with the 34a licence include, in par­ti­cu­lar, guar­ding in public are­as, at admis­si­on are­as or in various secu­ri­ty acti­vi­ties in a mana­ge­ri­al posi­ti­on: More here.
Howe­ver, even if you want to car­ry out an acti­vi­ty for which the suc­cessful pas­sing of a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of com­pe­tence exami­na­ti­on is actual­ly man­da­to­ry, the­re are cer­tain excep­ti­ons. Not all per­sons need the cer­ti­fi­ca­te of com­pe­tence, even if they car­ry out regu­la­ted guar­ding acti­vi­ties or are self-employ­ed as a secu­ri­ty con­trac­tor with their own secu­ri­ty company.

Who is exempt from the 34a examination…

Basi­cal­ly appli­es: Anyo­ne who has com­ple­ted a hig­her-level trai­ning or fur­ther trai­ning with a reco­g­nis­ed (IHK) qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on in the secu­ri­ty indus­try does not need an addi­tio­nal cer­ti­fi­ca­te of competence!

But be careful! The­re are a few more pit­falls. Here are the details on the exemp­ti­on from the expert know­ledge examination:

A per­son is exempt from the expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on if he…

…has suc­cessful­ly pas­sed the cor­re­spon­ding final exami­na­ti­on. Pro­of of this can be pro­vi­ded by pre­sen­ting the respec­ti­ve exami­na­ti­on certificate.

I have suc­cessful­ly com­ple­ted the so-cal­led “plant secu­ri­ty cour­ses”. Is this the same as the exami­na­ti­on for expert knowledge?

No! The fac­to­ry secu­ri­ty cour­ses (fac­to­ry secu­ri­ty cour­se 1–2 or 1–4) are — wit­hout suc­cessful­ly pas­sing the exami­na­ti­on to beco­me a fac­to­ry secu­ri­ty spe­cia­list — not equi­va­lent! You need the expert exami­na­ti­on. In addi­ti­on, the IHK works pro­tec­tion spe­cia­list exami­na­ti­on is no lon­ger offered. 

I was in the armed forces. Do I still have to take the examination?

Basi­cal­ly alre­a­dy. Cau­ti­on is advi­sed here: As a per­son doing basic mili­ta­ry ser­vice, a tem­po­ra­ry sol­dier or a pro­fes­sio­nal sol­dier, you have to take the expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on — regard­less of whe­ther you are curr­ent­ly obli­ged to be a sol­dier or not — if you (addi­tio­nal­ly) want to work in the pri­va­te secu­ri­ty sec­tor and per­form the cor­re­spon­ding guar­ding tasks. The only excep­ti­on is for mili­ta­ry poli­ce, i.e. the mili­ta­ry poli­ce of the Ger­man Armed Forces. Mili­ta­ry poli­ce offi­cers are exempt from the expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on, as mili­ta­ry poli­ce offi­cers have acqui­red a lar­ge part of the know­ledge requi­red in the expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on during their trai­ning cour­ses. Mili­ta­ry poli­ce offi­cers or ser­geants, for exam­p­le, do not need to take a Cham­ber of Indus­try and Com­mer­ce (IHK) exami­na­ti­on; the pro­of is pro­vi­ded by the Bundeswehr’s trai­ning or ser­vice record. All other sol­diers must acqui­re the 34a certificate.

Do I need a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of com­pe­tence as a poli­ce officer?

The­re are excep­ti­ons both for poli­ce offi­cers at sta­te level (Land poli­ce) and at fede­ral level (Bun­des­po­li­zei). By the way, the same appli­es to employees in the cor­rec­tion­al ser­vice and to the wea­pons-car­ry­ing area of the cus­toms ser­vice. It is important to note that the obli­ga­ti­on to take the exami­na­ti­on is only wai­ved if you work in law enforce­ment and have suc­cessful­ly com­ple­ted the cor­re­spon­ding care­er exami­na­ti­on — at least for the inter­me­dia­te ser­vice. Poli­ce offi­cers who work as civil ser­vants in the poli­ce enforce­ment ser­vice the­r­e­fo­re do not need a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of com­pe­tence. Many poli­ce offi­cers earn extra money pri­va­te­ly, e.g. as door­men. Espe­ci­al­ly in conur­ba­ti­ons whe­re life is expen­si­ve, such as Munich, Stutt­gart, Frank­furt, Ham­burg, Ber­lin or Düs­sel­dorf, a part-time job in a secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny is a good way to earn extra money. Tip on the side: Make sure that you inform your (main) employ­er about your side job and ide­al­ly have it appro­ved in writing.

I stu­di­ed law, have an LL.B. or a sta­te law degree. Do I real­ly still need to take the expert know­ledge examination?

It’s hard to belie­ve: but of cour­se, a (part-time) job in the secu­ri­ty indus­try can also be inte­res­t­ing for pro­s­pec­ti­ve lawy­ers, be it to finan­ce their stu­dies or to gain impres­si­ons of the indus­try. Of cour­se: In the field of law (public safe­ty and order, trade law, data pro­tec­tion law, cri­mi­nal law and cri­mi­nal pro­ce­du­re law, civil code, code of cri­mi­nal pro­ce­du­re, etc.) law gra­dua­tes are alre­a­dy fit. That’s why you only need to catch up on the topics of acci­dent pre­ven­ti­on in the secu­ri­ty indus­try (UVV, DGUV regu­la­ti­on 23), deal­ing with peo­p­le and the basics of secu­ri­ty tech­no­lo­gy. A cer­ti­fi­ca­te of par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the IHK ins­truc­tion pro­ce­du­re ser­ves as pro­of of this. Tog­e­ther with a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of suc­cessful com­ple­ti­on of a law degree at a uni­ver­si­ty or aca­de­my that awards a degree equi­va­lent to a uni­ver­si­ty degree, no addi­tio­nal com­ple­ti­on of the expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on pur­su­ant to §34a GewO is required.

I have been working as a secu­ri­ty guard for many years. Is work expe­ri­ence not enough recognition?

No, not nor­mal­ly! Howe­ver, the­re are cer­tain tran­si­tio­nal arran­ge­ments for “vete­ran” secu­ri­ty workers. Employees in the pri­va­te secu­ri­ty sec­tor who have par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the requi­red trai­ning sin­ce 1 April 1996 or who were alre­a­dy working in the secu­ri­ty sec­tor befo­re 31 March 1996 and were pre­vious­ly exempt from trai­ning due to this cut-off date regu­la­ti­on are, so to speak, “grand­fa­the­red”. Atten­ti­on: This exemp­ti­on may only be invo­ked if it can be shown that the guar­ding acti­vi­ty was unin­ter­rupt­ed for at least three years befo­re the cut-off date of 1 Janu­ary 2003. For all others who have only been acti­ve in the secu­ri­ty indus­try sin­ce 2003, such exemp­ti­ons do not app­ly.
So it is com­pli­ca­ted! My tip: It is bet­ter to invest in taking the qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on exami­na­ti­on and bene­fit from a “know­ledge update” even as an expe­ri­en­ced secu­ri­ty employee!

Atten­ti­on: Spe­cial cases!

The­re are some other spe­cial cases, such as the pos­si­ble reco­gni­ti­on of for­eign cer­ti­fi­ca­tes of com­pe­tence. It is also not always clear whe­ther the type of acti­vi­ty to be per­for­med requi­res a qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on exami­na­ti­on at all. If it is a mat­ter of simp­le ste­war­ding acti­vi­ties (e.g. car park ushers) or sim­ply che­cking and tearing off admis­si­on tickets, the­re is usual­ly no need for an expert know­ledge exami­na­ti­on, and in some cases not even the ins­truc­tion accor­ding to § 34a GewO. Howe­ver, bor­der­line cases such as super­vi­si­on or secu­ri­ty ser­vices in muse­ums or cer­tain con­stel­la­ti­ons of acti­vi­ties in event pro­tec­tion are some­ti­mes con­tro­ver­si­al. (Such bor­der­line cases are dis­cus­sed again in sepa­ra­te artic­les here on the Info­por­tal).
An important note: To be on the safe side, ask the Cham­ber of Indus­try and Com­mer­ce (IHK) and the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ty whe­ther your qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on is suf­fi­ci­ent or whe­ther you also have to take the IHK exami­na­ti­on accor­ding to § 34a GewO. You will then recei­ve legal­ly secu­re, per­so­nal infor­ma­ti­on. If you are new to pri­va­te secu­ri­ty, you are then allo­wed to car­ry out the cor­re­spon­ding acti­vi­ties after your relia­bi­li­ty has been che­cked and you have been assi­gned the guard ID!

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