Bodyguards protect people from risk of violence, kidnapping or any other harmful situation.
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What does a bodyguard do?

As a bodyguard, or close protection officer (CPO), your client could include celebrities, public figures, the royal family or heads of industry. You may be working as part of a larger close protection team with other CPOs and professional drivers or offering your services as an individual.

Your work would typically include:

  • protecting clients from threats, for example from terrorists, political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans
  • checking out premises before clients arrive
  • planning and research to identify and prevent potential threat or disruption
  • staying constantly alert to react to threatening situations
  • accompanying clients on business and social visits
  • driving clients to and from venues

You could work in high or low risk environments. This will depend on where you are working and who you are protecting. For example, in a high risk environment, you could be protecting a public figure in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a low risk environment your principal may be a celebrity who needs protection from over-eager fans.

You could specialise in a particular area, such as residential security or defensive and evasive driving techniques.


What do I need to do to become a bodyguard?

To work as a CPO in England and Wales you are required by law to have a SIA licence. To get a licence you will need:

  • to be aged 18 or over
  • identity and criminal record checks
  • complete a SIA approved training course
  • provide evidence that you have a recognised first aid award

The SIA may also make other checks to decide if you a suitable person to hold a licence. The SIA website has more detailed information.

To gain a close protection licence you will need to work towards the qualification that is recognised by the SIA.

The SIA has approved a number of bodies to award this recognised qualification. Look for course providers who offer the qualification awarded by one of the following organisations:

  • Buckinghamshire New University
  • City & Guilds
  • Edexcel
  • Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance
  • Industry qualifications

The SIA website has more information about the licensing process and a course search for training providers.

Many CPOs have a background in the armed forces or the police. This is not always essential, although some employers may prefer you to have a military background for work in high risk areas. Employers may also prefer to take people age 25 or over for security reasons.

You will need to be physically fit and have good eyesight and hearing. You’d also need to have a presentable appearance and be adaptable. For some jobs you may need to stand out in a crowd, for others you will need to be less obvious and blend into the background so people don’t know you are there.

The demand for female close protection officers is growing and more women are moving into this profession.

It may be useful if you have knowledge of one or more foreign languages. A driving licence is essential.


Related skills

  • Analytics
  • Communication

Essential qualifications

  • SIA approved training course
  • Recognised first aid award

Where to find out more

Security Industry Authority (SIA) – information for applicants 

Security Industry Authority (SIA) – information about licencing

Security Industry Authority (SIA) – training provider search


Where could I be working?

You could work in high or low risk environments. This will depend on where you are working and who you are protecting. For example, in a high risk environment, you could be protecting a public figure in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a low risk environment your principal may be a celebrity who needs protection from over-eager fans.

You could specialise in a particular area, such as residential security or defensive and evasive driving techniques.


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