This world can be a dangerous place for high-profile individuals, with the threats of assault, stalking, theft, kidnapping, invasion of privacy, and even assassination, a frightening reality. These people need additional Protection and heightened security measures that go well beyond the services of a bodyguard. This is where Executive Protection comes into play.
Read on to learn about Executive Protection services, who they protect, and what it means to work as an Executive Protection Agent—including duties, salary, and required skills and training.
What Is Executive Protection?
Executive Protection (EP), also known as Close Protection (CP), refers to the private security and risk mitigation measures taken to maintain the safety of individuals (Principles) and their families, who may be exposed to elevated personal risk due to their employment, status, net worth, affiliations, or geographical location.
Who Needs Executive Protection?
There is a common misconception that the only people who need Executive Protection are those with celebrity status. In reality, the people who need these types of heightened security measures extend far past Hollywood actors or chart-topping artists.
Anyone who is classified as ‘vulnerable’ due to their status, is a good fit for needing Executive Protection. This includes politicians or those with governmental influence, wealthy business professionals with high net worth, industry leaders with access to trade secrets, and high-profile individuals or families that attract unwanted attention.
The list below is a full outline of individuals who might require Executive Protection:
- Political figures
- Executives and CEOs
- Professional athletes
- Musicians and performers
- Wealthy individuals
- Very Important People (VIPs)
What Does An Executive Protection Agent Do?
An Executive Protection Agent—sometimes called an Executive Protection Specialist—is responsible for the planning and execution of keeping their client safe and out of harm's way. They are responsible for the overall security and protection of their client and often their families, and perform ongoing threat assessment, risk assessment, and vulnerability assessments.
The planning stage (or advance) of any Executive Protection program involves mapping out routes, understanding parking, entrances, and exits, and having a backup plan should any issues arise. Additionally, the role of an Agent can translate into a variety of responsibilities including driving and concierge services, event facilitation, liaising with hotels, airports, venues, and venue staff, and safeguarding highly sensitive and confidential security information. Agents, dependent upon circumstances, will be deployed singularly or as part of a larger team. The ability to work with a team and integrate quickly and seamlessly with other teams is an essential skill.
Executive Protection Agents are often required to travel domestically and internationally as part of their job, so they will need to be able to work long hours, including evenings and weekends. Agents can work for an Executive Protection firm or work for several firms as contractors, dependent upon legislative and licensing requirements.
Is An Executive Protection Agent The Same As A Bodyguard?
While there is some overlap in responsibilities, an Executive Protection Agent should not be mistaken for a bodyguard. Both roles involve protecting a client and keeping them safe from physical threats like assault, stalking, theft, kidnapping, invasion of privacy, and even assassination; however, bodyguards are more focused on acting when a situation arises (reactive), whereas Executive Protection Agents focus on risk mitigation strategies to keep their client out of harm’s way to begin with (proactive). Bodyguards are often used as a highly visible deterrent, rather than an integral part of the overall security and safety of the Principle.
How Much Do Executive Protection Agents Make?
Executive Protection Agents in Canada can make up to $120,000 a year or more. Agents in major cities may charge up to $50 per hour while others in smaller cities may charge less.
The income of an Executive Protection Agent will vary based on numerous factors including:
- Threat level
- Armed or unarmed
- Hours of service
- Location and travel
- Types of Protection services required
The higher the threat level, the longer the hours, and the more travel that is required, the more an Agent may charge for their time. The type of protective services will also impact their wage. These can range from event security and unarmed driving to armed personal security (where allowed under legislation and licensing) and full-time security services. The more advanced the service, the more the Agent will make.
What Are The Attributes Of An Executive Protection Professional?
An Executive Protection professional is intelligent, discreet, decisive, ethical, and serious. They are able to work in a fast-paced environment and maintain a high level of integrity, focus, and situational awareness, at all times. Executive Protection Agents are highly autonomous and carry themselves with a level of professionalism at all times. This type of focus and dedication allows them to do their job to the best of their ability and to the highest possible standard.
How To Get Into The Executive Protection Service
Getting into the Executive Protection industry requires more than some security experience and physical fitness. Careers in the Executive Protection security industry require relevant skills, qualifications, licensing, and experience.
To ensure the safety and security of clients, Executive Protection Agents need to possess the following relevant skills:
Evasive and defensive driving skills:
Since driving is an integral part of the job requirement, Agents will need to be skilled behind the wheel. Should they ever find themselves in a situation where they have to evade a threat or get away from a situation quickly, the client will need to know they are in good hands when traveling at high speeds.
Firearms handling skills:
Executive Protection Agents should be extremely skilled and comfortable handling firearms (were allowed by legislation and licensing). Depending on the threat level, they may need to carry this type of weapon in order to maintain a high level of protection for the client.
Martial arts skills or other forms of self-defense or combat training:
If an Agent is working an unarmed assignment, they will need to be well-trained and experienced in defensive hand-to-hand combat. Physical intervention is a last resort for any security professional; however, you must be able to defend and protect the Principle.
Good communication, written, interpersonal, and computer skills:
Since the job stems well beyond physical Protection, Agents will need to have good communication skills to liaise with the client and other vendors throughout their service.
Landing a position as an Executive Protection professional will require some relevant experience. Many Protection specialists come from a military or law enforcement background and have experience handling difficult situations with learned knowledge on how to avoid them.
Executive Protection Agents should have experience in the following areas:
The customer service experience can teach a person many things including patience, empathy, self-control, adaptability, and more. This experience will be beneficial in an Executive Protection Agent role.
Patrol and security:
The level of situational awareness that is gained through patrol and security jobs is incredibly beneficial—not to mention the valuable experience that is gained through responding to various high-stress situations while on the job.
Military, law enforcement, or government agency:
This type of experience can bring a more formal and serious level of expertise to the table—very much needed for an Executive Protection Agent role.
Private Investigation (PI):
The problem-solving and critical thinking skills developed during PI work directly translates into Executive Protection Agent work.
These roles are fast-paced and high-stress. Having real-life experience responding to emergencies will be extremely important in an Executive Protection Agent role.
Evasive, defensive driving:
Beyond simply being a good evasive, defensive driver, it is beneficial for an Agent to have some experience with real-life high-stress driving scenarios.
Entry and exit point control:
Executive Protection Agents should have experience and training in accessing, controlling and managing, exit and entry routes to ensure the safe movement of their client from building to vehicle, vice versa, and a possible emergency evacuation.
Movement, escort, and removal of individuals, assets, property:
Knowing what it takes to transport assets, property, and individuals is critical in an Executive Protection Agent role. This includes creating a movement strategy that does not attract attention and knowing what to do if attention has been attracted.
Coordinating with law enforcement and emergency responders:
Certain situations may inevitably involve law enforcement or emergency responders. Should this happen, Agents should be familiar with the formalities of coordinating with first responders and how to conduct themselves in a professional manner.
Managing and de-escalating situations with people or crowds:
High-profile people have the tendency to draw large crowds. Agents will need to be able to manage, de-escalate, and often divert people away from the area to create the safest environment for their clients.
Knowledge of the use of force laws:
Every geographical location will have a different use of force law. Having a deep understanding of the legislation and the use of force continuum will allow an Executive Protection Agent to do their job in accordance with the law and keep them protected in the long run, should a situation arise.
Each security firm, organization, or client will look for different qualifications before hiring you as an Executive or Close Protection officer. The qualifications listed below are some of the most commonly looked for in the Executive Protection industry.
Executive Protection training school:
Agents are often required to have formal training from a recognized agency, law enforcement, or military and the practical knowledge plus experience to work in the field.
Security guard license:
The security guard license is a baseline certification that may be required by an Executive Protection firm in order to be hired. Some jurisdictions require specific Executive Protection Licensing to operate.
Concealed Carry firearm permit:
To handle firearms, Executive Protection Agents will need an up-to-date and valid permit or license in the specific jurisdiction that they will be operating in. Possession of a firearm when not licensed in a jurisdiction is strictly against the law.
Naturally, first aid training is required as part of the job. Agents will need to be able to respond properly should an emergency arise, including having a current First Aid with CPR/AED certificate. Having the skills to deal with this properly could save lives.
Many security firms will prefer their Agents to have some sort of formal post-secondary education on their resume.
Current and valid driver’s license:
Since driving is an essential part of the job, Agents will need to have a current and valid driver’s license to perform their duties. Production of a driver's abstract may be required.
Executive Protection Services
If you’d like to start building a career in the Executive Protection industry, Paladin Risk Solutions offers Executive Protection services with world-class training programs that prepare you for success.
Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash