What is a Bodyguard?
A bodyguard, or personal protection specialist, is a type of security guard who protects another person from various dangers such as assault, kidnapping, assassination, loss of confidential information, or other threats. Bodyguards provide security and protection for:
- Government officials, heads of state and other political figures
- Celebrities who need protection from overly aggressive fans
- Prominent business members such as CEO’s
- Other wealthy individuals
Protection may come in the form of a single protection specialist, or a team of experts who perform various security-related functions.
The Role of a Bodyguard
Bodyguards are often trained in the use of firearms, hand-to-hand combat, tactical driving, and know how to administer first aid. In multi-agent protection units, one or more individuals may specialize in specific tasks, such as a bouncer, providing a protective escort, crowd screening and control, searching for explosives or screening for electronic surveillance devices. Bodyguards may also work with other security personnel to conduct threat assessments and/or risk assessment and may analyze potential security weaknesses.
At times, they will examine a premise or venue before their clients arrive, to determine the location of entrances and exits, find potential security weaknesses, and interview the staff. In addition, the security specialists may conduct research to be aware of potential threats to their client, such as a protest by a radical group or the release from custody of person who is a known threat. While escorting a client, protection teams must remain alert and be able to react quickly to threatening situations. In some cases, members of the team may also drive their clients, which means they need to be aware of suspicious vehicles and be prepared to execute evasive or defensive driving techniques.
Tools and Equipment
Depending on the laws, jurisdiction and on which type of agency or security service they are in, guards may be armed with a lethal weapon such as a gun or with a non-lethal weapon such as a stun gun, pepper spray, or a TASER. Agents from government security agencies that provide protection for heads of state may carry a handgun or even a fully automatic machine pistol or a mini-submachine gun. Guards from security agencies such as the Secret Service often wear body armor, to protect themselves from gunfire.
To learn more about the personal protection devices and surveillance equipment used, please see our Spy Equipment section.
Bodyguards often work long shifts in order to provide 24-hour protection, and shifts often include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Since they follow their clients, the work locations may range from indoor office meetings or social events to outdoor rallies or concerts. Guards often have to travel by car, train, and plane to escort their client. International travel may be required.
Persons in this field often have backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, security services, or prison guard services. They may also be an expert in martial arts. Individuals must be physically fit, with good eyesight and hearing. They need to have a presentable appearance, especially for close protection work for dignitaries and heads of state. A drivers license is usually required. In the UK and some other countries, individuals must be licensed, which involves identity and criminal record checks.
Bodyguards need to be observant and possess quick reflexes. They should be able to work as member of a team, with assigned tasks, or be able to act independently, and adapt and improvise an appropriate response if the need arises. They must be able to recognize potentially dangerous situations and remain calm under pressure. They require good interpersonal and communications skills and strong decision-making and planning skills. Since security experts accompany their client throughout their day, they will be privy to the private life of the client, which means they has to show discretion and maintain confidentiality.
Hire a Protection Specialist
Private investigators sometimes double as a bodyguard due to their personal protection experience gained during their time in the military or as a former police officer. Many private detectives carry guns or other weapons and are generally very alert of their surroundings, which makes them a natural for bodyguard services. When it comes to protecting executives, politicians, or movie stars, those with the most experience and knowledge get the job.
For private investigators or private investigation agencies that specialize in executive protection and bodyguard services, please visit our Private Investigation Directory.
Books and Reference Material
Following are websites that provide specialized information on bodyguards, personal protection and executive protection.
- Bodyguard Careers – An informational site with the purpose of providing the information and tools necessary to succeed in the executive protection field.
- Executive Protection Training Institute – The Executive Protection Training Institute
If you provide personal protection and body guarding services in addition to private investigation services, it may be helpful to brush up on the latest approaches and techniques. The following books provide helpful information. You’ll find information such as:
- How to become a bodyguard, where to get the proper training, and how to find a job
- Self-defense and personal protection tips to keep yourself and your client safe in dangerous situations
- Equipment, accessories and tools used to keep clients safe
- How to evaluate a location, scene or automobile to identify potential security threats
- Offensive and defensive driving maneuvers
- Awareness and observation techniques
A Professional’s Guide to Ending Violence Quickly: How Bouncers, Bodyguards, and Other Security
This book teaches you how to handle difficult situations like a professional by defusing dangerous situations and avoiding confrontations. The information draws on research and interviews from some of the toughest bouncers, and other security professionals to help you master the art of diffusion.
Executive Protection: A Professional’s Guide To Body guarding
This book demystifies the folklore behind the profession. It describes the true reality involved in protecting real-life celebrities, corporate executives and foreign dignitaries. The author, Benny Mares, explains how to begin a successful career in the field of personal protection and bodyguarding.
How to Bodyguard Yourself: A Personal Protection Guide Women : The Practical Guide Deterring Rapists, Stalkers, Serial Killers, Hit Men, Terrorists
This bodyguarding guide is design primarily for women who wish to specialize in the field. It teaches contemporary security techniques required by women to successfully implement a user-friendly and practical security awareness program. Use this professional protection guide to learn how to be a specialist in this male-dominated career field.
Defensive Tactics the Security Professional
This reference guide for security professionals explains self-defense tactics and discusses the legality of using them in various circumstances. The book discuss all aspects of legal defense tactics including the psychological, the physical, and the practical aspects involved in training defensive tactics.
The author is a martial arts / kung-fu expert with over 40 years of experience in the business. Learn about:
- How to engage in hand to hand combat situations
- Defending against various weapons, even if you don’t have a weapon yourself
- How to handle attacks from multiple people simultaneously and the last person left standing
- How to improve your level of awareness with awareness training
- Liability issues faced by protection specialists
The book contains illustrations and descriptions of various situations and explains how to best handle them.