Workforce Profiles look at the people behind Workforce WindsorEssex’s 76 In-Demand Jobs. Each week, we talk to a different professional for an inside look into their work.
Protecting against theft, vandalism, controlling access and maintaining order — the roles of Security Guards (6541) extend to many types of businesses throughout the community, making it one of the 76 In-Demand Jobs in Windsor-Essex.
Ten years ago, Andrew Hedges went to Toronto right out of college, looking for work. A friend worked for a security subcontractor and helped him get a job. Since that time, he has maintained working in security while pursuing other projects. In 2015, he opened Empire Muscle, a power lifting and heavy weight lifting style gym on Windsor’s west end.
We met with Andrew early one night at the bar to discuss the field of security and his experiences over the years. We discussed his role as a security guard, as well as his various positions in the security industry, including his current role as a bouncer at The Foundry.
What is an average day for a security guard?
On a day-to-day level, as a security guard you’re keeping an eye on property. You’re typically going to be in a building, commonly after hours, making sure people aren’t spray painting stuff or breaking windows, that kind of thing.
I did work in Toronto that was during business hours, working directly with the public, making sure people weren’t running down escalators the wrong way, skateboarding in the lobby, typical things like that.
Working downtown at the front door of the bar, I’m the first face people are going to see when they come into the business. I am making sure that good clients get in and potentially troublesome clients, especially downtown the weekends, don’t make it through the front door.
The first thing is access control and then it’s enforcing house rules, making sure people aren’t breaking glasses or being too drunk. There are other minor things, like calling cabs for people, checking bags, recommending restaurants. There are a lot more miscellaneous tasks than working in a security guard position where you’re tied to a front desk or walking a set patrol route.
Did you know anyone who worked in security growing up?
Growing up, I wasn’t really too familiar with what the job entailed and I didn’t know anything about it until I started my in-house training for the company I started working for up in Toronto.
Since the government instituted security licenses laws, some in-house training of around 40 hours was mandated. I’m thankful that they did this, whether it was mandated or not, because I learned a lot about what the job actually was all about. The roles and responsibilities of a security guard are different than what people typically think.
The biggest thing for me that I learned from the classes was that your job as a security guard is to keep an eye on things, write it down, and never get involved. If something is going on, all you are there to do is observe and report. If it ever has to go to court, then there is a document of what happened. That’s something I learned in the class that I had never really considered before.
Obviously, there is a lot of hands-on learning when it comes to dealing with the public and developing social skills in a way that you might not be comfortable or used to doing. If you’re going to work in a bar downtown in Windsor, have some good social skills and really understand that you’re here to provide a service to help people. Have some self awareness and know whether you’re the kind of person who can tolerate the nonsense that you will have to put up with on a day-to-day basis. You have to have a long fuse.
Are there different certifications for a bouncer?
Anyone who is going to work in a bar has to have their Smart Serve. Anyone who is going to work in a security capacity has to have a security license. In my position here at the bar, I have to have both those things.
For the security license, you do the course, write the test, and pay a licensing fee which is good for every two or three years.
Some people want to do the least amount possible to get certified. If this not a capacity you’ve worked in before, it’s worthwhile finding a good course and spending a little extra money. It’s money you’ll earn back. The better you can do your job, the more money you can earn.
Is it difficult to find a job in Windsor?
I would say for people who are willing to jump through the hoops and get the licensing, it’s easy to find a job in Windsor. Security subcontractors seem to have high turnover and always seem to be hiring. The money isn’t that great and the hours can be difficult.
Bouncing downtown has been the way to go for me, but the issue is that the hours can be pretty limited. You can make a better hourly rate because you’re dealing with more nonsense on a daily basis. Especially to start, you might be only getting four hours a week and it’s really hard to make a living off that.
What is the best and worst part of your job?
The best part of my job and the worst part of my job is actually the same thing: dealing with the public. The biggest thing is the energy you put out there into the world. When you’re dealing with people, what you put out there is generally what you’re going to get back.
It’s a pretty extreme outlier, the person who will be unreasonable to you no matter how cool you are. You meet a lot of really cool people doing a job like this and you meet a lot of jerks.
Also, it’s all about the venue, it’s all about the place you’re going to work. Don’t be in a hurry to jump into the first bar that is willing to offer you a position because there might be a reason. Do your research on the bar and spend a couple weekends there to see what the crowd is like. A good crowd, good management, and good coworkers is what will make the difference between your job being great every day, like mine is, or a nightmare.
Why is Windsor unique to work in security?
As far as security subcontract / night-watchman / mall cop positions go, there are a lot of commercial buildings. There are a lot of business infrastructure that is being built up in Windsor and those places need someone to keep an eye on things after-hours. In a lot of cases, insurance policies say that someone has to be keeping an eye on the fire alarms at all times.
Windsor has always had a thriving downtown scene. It will need qualified and effective doormen and bouncers. Especially for someone who has the personality and social skills and the work ethic to excel and do well, there will always, always be demand for that.