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N is for Night Watchman

by Mark Schultz
September 2016

Night Watchmen, more commonly known as Security Guards, are an integral part of every industry as they protect businesses and companies large and small on a daily basis. But there is so much more to this job than simply guarding, patrolling, and monitoring areas in order to prevent from theft, violence, and rule violations and locking doors and gates. As seen in Table 1, the tasks of a Night Watchman require high attention to detail for writing reports, strong communication skills, and working well with others when trying to de-escalate a situation or working with police and firefighters, as well as the ability to keep calm during medical emergencies.

Table 1: Other Tasks of a Night Watchman
  • Answer alarms and investigate disturbances
  • Monitor and authorize entrance and departure of employees, visitors, and other persons to guard against theft and maintain security of premises
  • Write reports of daily activities and irregularities, such as equipment or property damage, theft, presence of unauthorized persons, or unusual occurrences
  • Patrol industrial or commercial premises to prevent and detect signs of intrusion and ensure security of doors, windows, and gates.
  • Call police or fire departments in cases of emergency, such as fire or presence of unauthorized persons
  • Respond to medical emergencies by administering basic first aid or by obtaining assistance from paramedics
  • Circulate among visitors, patrons, or employees to preserve order and protect property
  • Warn persons of rule infractions or violations, and apprehend or evict violators from premises, using force when necessary
  • Answer telephone calls to take messages, answer questions, and provide information during non-business hours or when switchboard is closed
  • Operate detecting devices to screen individuals and prevent passage of prohibited articles into restricted areas
  • Inspect and adjust security systems, equipment, or machinery to ensure operational use and to detect evidence of tampering
  • Escort or drive motor vehicle to transport individuals to specified locations or to provide personal protection
  • Monitor and adjust controls that regulate building systems, such as air conditioning, furnace, or boiler

Source: O*Net OnLine (

According to DEED's Job Vacancy Survey, 44 percent of the current vacancies for night watchmen are part-time. Tack on the fact that the median hourly wage for this job in Minnesota is $14.53 (starting wage is around $10.36 per hour), which does not meet the $17.57 wage threshold to cover the basic cost of living needs for the average family in Minnesota, this position may not be a career for someone. However, working as a night watchman can provide valuable experience for those looking to work as a correctional officer, police officer, or sheriff's deputy, all of which pay well more than the hourly wage to meet basic cost of living needs. Marshall Ogren, who has spent 11 years working as a police officer and 15 years in correctional services, states that " In my experience, prior work history as a security officer can provide a foundation to be a competitive candidate for a protective services job. Security officers are often trusted to be custodians of areas or facilities that are generally off-limits to the public. A candidate can leverage security officer work experiences to highlight qualities such as: trustworthy, mature, self-directed, and reliable. Security officers may encounter situations that require them to make decisions about handling the incident or calling law enforcement. This type of experience can serve to highlight the candidate's experience with stressful situations and exercising discretion. "

Table 2: Employment and Wages for Night Watchmen and Related Correctional Occupations
Occupation Employment Wage Percentiles
10th 25th Median 75th 90th
Total, All Occupations 2,772,240 $9.38 $12.40 $18.88 $29.60 $44.78
Security Guards 10,550 $10.36 $12.46 $14.53 $18.88 $26.29
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 8,790 $18.44 $23.95 $29.78 $34.66 $37.64
Correctional Officers and Jailers 4,740 $16.77 $19.63 $22.76 $26.23 $30.10
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 1,190 $22.09 $26.96 $33.98 $38.97 $59.04
Firefighters 5,680 $9.22 $11.09 $14.43 $18.70 $25.49
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 150 $22.60 $26.88 $32.06 $35.86 $38.58
Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

Not only is a job as a night watchman a good source of professional experience to help a candidate move on to other jobs in corrections, it may also be an excellent source of extra income as a second job. As mentioned earlier, 44 percent of the current vacancies are part-time, which would allow some who work a full-time, regular job to work part-time, including nights and weekends, to help supplement their current income. This would be perfect for individuals who like to live a more lavish lifestyle, people trying to save up for a big vacation or Christmas presents, and college grads trying to pay off their school loans, just to name a few. The part-time nature of some of the vacancies would also include night and weekend hours which would allow for more flexibility than a regular 9 to 5 job.

Figure 1 illustrates the vacancy trends from the second quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2015. No clear pattern appears of increases and decreases from seasonality is shown, but what is certain is that Minnesota has seen a general trend upward during this time, with an increase of 201 from second quarter 2010 to fourth quarter 2015. It is possible that this is a response to the increased threats of terroristic activity in the nation which causes employers to make extra efforts to protect their companies and enterprises.

Figure 1: Vacancy Trends in Minnesota

There is quite a bit of variation in the employment and wages for night watchmen depending on area of the state. It's not too shocking to see that the highest employment is in the Seven County Metro area. Central Minnesota, however, has the highest wages. The $25.45 median hourly wage in this area is over 10 dollars higher than the next highest paying region, Northwest Minnesota (see Table 3).

Table 3: Regional Employment and Wages
Region Employment Median Wage Total Openings 2012-2022
Seven County Metro 7,510 $14.32 2,090
Southeast 510 $14.88 290
Southwest 270 $13.94 30
Central 760 $25.45 100
Northeast 480 $12.74 120
Northwest 600 $14.93 160
Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

Additionally, the Seven County Metro area is expected to see the highest number of openings, followed by Southeast Minnesota, while the Southwest region is projected to see the least number of openings.

Working as a night watchman may not become a career for many individuals, but it is definitely a job that is needed in the state of Minnesota. Based on the job tasks listed above, it seems that it can be an interesting and challenging job for those who like to test themselves. With many of the openings spread throughout the state, those who need a second source of income, and the flexibility that these jobs may offer may also find a job as a night watchman attractive and available throughout Minnesota. It is definitely a job that is needed and, if the current trends continue, there will always be openings to fill.

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