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 CEOs
- 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 firearms, hand-to-hand combat, tactical driving, and know-how to administer first aid. In multi-agent protection units, 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 and/or risk assessments and 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, security specialists may conduct research to be aware of potential threats to their clients, such as a protest by a radical group or the release from custody of a 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, team members 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 that Bodyguards Use
Depending on the laws, jurisdiction, and type of agency or security service, 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 protect 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 surveillance equipment section.
Bodyguard Job Requirements
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 travel by car, train, and plane to escort their clients. 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 must have a presentable appearance, especially for close protection work for dignitaries and heads of state. A driver’s 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 a member of a team with assigned tasks or be able to act independently, 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 communication skills and strong decision-making and planning skills. Since security experts accompany their clients throughout their day, they will be privy to the private life of the client, which means they have to show discretion and maintain confidentiality.
Hire a Bodyguard or Executive Protection Specialist
Private investigators sometimes double as a bodyguard due to their personal protection experience gained during their time in the military or as former police officers.
Many private detectives carry guns or other weapons and are generally very alert to their surroundings, which makes them natural for bodyguard services. When protecting executives, politicians, or movie stars, those with the most experience and knowledge usually get the job.
For private investigators or private investigation agencies that specialize in executive protection and bodyguard services, please visit our Private Investigation Directory to hire a bodyguard.
Books and Reference Material
If you provide personal protection and bodyguarding 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 Professionals
The Professional’s Guide to Ending Violence Quickly teaches you how to handle difficult situations like a professional bouncer, bodyguard, or security professional. You’ll learn how to avoid confrontations, defuse dangerous situations, and how to end the fight quickly if it comes to that.
The information in this book draws on research and interviews with some of the most formidable bouncers and other security professionals to help you master the art of diffusion. If you provide personal or executive security services to your clients, this book should be in your library.
Defensive Tactics for 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 discusses all aspects of legal defense tactics, including the psychological, physical, and 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. Read this book to 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.
Bodyguard Manual – Revised Edition (Bodyguard Manual: Protection Techniques of Professionals)
This book is written from the perspective of people who work in professional protection groups and teams. It focuses on the techniques used by professional organizations such as the Secret Service, State Department Security, Policemen, and other protective services that work to keep people safe worldwide. If you run a security company or manage of team, this book will help you understand how to run it properly and keep your clients safe.
The following are websites that provide specialized information on bodyguards, personal protection, and executive protection.