Why Am I Analysing Jobs?
Firstly, as a budding self-employed, there’s always a nagging fear (albeit small) that one day, my customers and work might dry up.
Dwindling tuition or writing assignments until the day I become obsolete in my current industry. And what if this happens before the day I have socked away enough to declare myself financially independent?!
Therefore, it’s almost imperative to look at alternatives. About half a year ago, I actually explored the possibility of becoming a taxi driver.
Secondly, if I attain Financial Independence (FI) before the age of 40, I seriously doubt I would still be a tutor by my early fifties.
After all, one of the main perks of achieving FI relatively early (i.e. before 50) is the ability to experience “multiple lifetimes”. Try out different vocations, ranging from a taxi driver, a librarian or even a zookeeper!
And since I attended a sharing session by a security firm a few months ago, why not pen down some of my thoughts on the possibility of me joining the security sector?
Nature Of The Job
I will be honest here. Besides that sharing session, what piqued me to write about this topic was seeing a young and good-looking security officer at the premises of my in-laws’ executive condominium.
I am ashamed of myself, but my first thought was actually “What’s he doing as a security guard?”
Well, it’s a notoriously tough job, with low pay and long working hours. And the vocation rarely gets the respect it deserves from the public.
The common perception is that the job of a security officer is very “chillax”. However, through my interactions with some security guards (lull time between lessons), I have found out that it’s not as simple as just being “present”.
- During peak hours, they have to stand under the hot sun and ensure that no trespassers enter through the side gate
- Perform patrols around the premises
- Traffic warden during the weekends to ensure ample parking for visitors
- Ensure safety at the swimming pools
- And many more….
It’s not as simple as we think it is. But to be honest, as an introvert, I don’t really mind performing most of these tasks. If money is not an issue, I would probably prefer doing these tasks than be stuck in a stressful office job.
There’s also interesting proficiencies like counter-terrorism that nobody should sniff at.
Pay & Prospects
Thankfully, it’s already September. The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is finally in force for the security sector. Under the new wage ladder, the minimum monthly basic wages of security guards will rise from $800/month to $1,100/month.
In my opinion, the PWM is a good first step in attracting and rewarding security officers for their good performance in their roles. Most of them will be able to draw a salary above $2,000 after taking into account overtime pay, since they typically work 12 hours each day, six days a week.
It’s interesting to note that SAF personnel and police officers draw much higher pay than security officers. I understand that the scope might be very different, but essentially they aim to provide similar outcomes: Ensure safety and serve as a deterrence.
So I am with MP Zainal Sapari when he says that security guarding should not be a low-wage job!
I am not exactly sure of the profit margins of security firms but if I were to hazard a guess, the margins are pretty low. Therefore, the low wages of security officers is most likely due to cheap sourcing of security contracts. Firms or premises which require security almost always go for the lowest-priced quote.
Just like our health, most of us only cherish it when it’s gone. The Standard Chartered Bank branch in Holland Village must now be regretting its decision to skim on its security needs and not even deploy a security guard on its premises.
What Do I Need To Qualify
So let’s say I am interested in embarking on this career, how should I go about doing things?
According to WDA, “The Security Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification (Security WSQ) maps out the skills needed for jobs in the private security industry and the training needed to enter the industry”.
I could tap on SkillsFuture for the courses and at the minimum, one has to be certified competent in two Basic Licensing Security WSQ units for (1) Perform guard and patrol Services and (2) Handle security incidents and services.
There will be hands-on training and simulation exercises and during the more than 100 hours of training over a few weeks period.
Apparently, most security guards are quite apprehensive over taking these courses and exams and even though they are actually proficient in their skills, not getting certified might delay their promotions and pay raises.
During the sharing session, I actually learnt that the security industry is facing a manpower shortage. From an economics point of view, that’s pretty ironic, considering the relatively low pay a security officer earns.
However, the ultimate bugbear for me is not the low pay but the long working hours. 12 hours a day for six days a week is no joke.
3 years ago, a scheme was launched to attract housewives and retirees to join the security industry. However, it seems that the response was muted. I guess in a couple of decades’ time, I probably wouldn’t mind doing this for at least a few months if I can just work an 8 hour shift for 3 days a week.
A senior management in a security firm actually mentioned that due to the manpower shortage, certain shifts during weekends and public holidays actually pay quite well and I was thinking polytechnic or university undergraduates could actually take advantage and earn a little for their keep.
Who knows, if enough people give this industry a shot, the norm could be a five day instead of a six day week for a full-timer. I don’t know about you, but I do think our hardworking security officers deserve a good break!