Over the past 15 years, growth in the investigation and security services industry has outpaced growth in the overall economy. Between 2017 and 2018, industry employment grew 3.7 percent, adding over 33,000 new jobs, while economy-wide occupational growth was only 1.5 percent. Over the same time, wages in the industry grew 8.3 percent, almost double the economy-wide average.

Over three-quarters of total employment in the industry is in the area of protective services. This includes jobs such as physical site security, firefighting, policing, gaming surveillance, and criminal investigations.

Private security companies provide services that supplement public-sector policing when the need arises. While the public sector remains the biggest employer of protective services workers, growth in private-sector employment has outstripped growth in public-sector security service employment since the early 2000s. Between 2017 and 2018, protective services employment in the security services industry grew 2.8 percent, while protective services employment in the public sector grew only 0.2 percent.

The geographic distribution of the protective services occupation is disbursed unevenly across the United States. For example, both Atlantic City and Las Vegas have a very high density of protective services employment, likely driven by the gambling and sports entertainment industries. States and cities with a high cost of living tend to possess a higher average wage for protective services workers. Cities in northern and central California in particular boast the highest wages for the occupation.

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Published January 16, 2020