7 August 2023
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Executable (Achievable): The goal should be achievable. It should be challenging but achievable by you with the means available.
- Realistic (Realistic): The goal should be realistic, i.e. it should be possible to implement it as intended under the actual given framework conditions.
- 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.:
- When do I talk to my boss about better pay? Ask for a talk, send appointment suggestions!
- What do other companies offer? Research job offers!
- What do I earn after further training? Check the collective agreement that applies to you!
- How much time can I set aside to further my education? Talk to your partner about your plans!
- Does my idea for self-employment work? Work out a business plan!
- How much will upgrading training cost me? Find out about costs and state subsidies!
- How have other colleagues done it? Network and exchange ideas!
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.
9 February 2023
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…
- certified plant security specialist (WSFK) or as a certified protection and security worker (GSSK),
- as a service worker for protection and security (SSS) or as a specialist for protection and security (FSS),
- as a certified master craftsman for protection and security or as a certified master craftswoman for protection and security (MSS),
- as a certified plant security foreman or forewoman,
…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!