What is a Bodyguard?
A bodyguard, or personal protection specialists, is a type of security guard who protects another person from danger such as assault, kidnapping, assassination, loss of confidential, information, or other threats. Bodyguards provide protection for government officials, celebrities, prominent business or political figures, wealthy individuals and others.
Many important public figures, such as heads of state or governors, are often protected by a bodyguard or by a team of bodyguards. Other important public figures, or those with lower risk profiles, are often accompanied by a single bodyguard who may also serve as a driver. Some high-profile celebrities use bodyguards to protect themselves from overly aggressive fans.
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 bodyguards may specialize in specific tasks, such as 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, bodyguards 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, bodyguards 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, bodyguards must remain alert and be able to react quickly to threatening situations. In some cases, bodyguards also drive their clients, which means they need to be aware of suspicious vehicles and be prepared to execute evasive or defensive driving techniques.
Bodyguard Tools and Equipment
Depending on the laws, jurisdiction and on which type of agency or security service they are in, bodyguards 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. Bodyguards 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 by bodyguards, please see our Spy Equipment section.
Job Requirements of a Bodyguard
Bodyguards often work long shifts in order to provide 24-hour protection, and shifts often include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Since bodyguards follow their clients, the work locations may range from indoor office meetings or social events to outdoor rallies or concerts. Bodyguards often have to travel by car, train, and plane to escort their client. International travel may be required.
Bodyguards often have backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, security services, or prison guard services. They may also be an expert in martial arts. Bodyguards must be physically fit, with good eyesight and hearing. Bodyguards 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, bodyguards 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. Bodyguards 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 bodyguards accompany their client throughout their day, the bodyguard will be privy to the private life of the client, which means that a bodyguard has to show discretion and maintain confidentiality.
Hire a Bodyguard
For private investigators or private investigation agencies that specialize in executive protection and bodyguard services, please visit our Private Investigation Directory.
Bodyguard Books and Reference Material
For more information on bodyguards and executive protection view Bodyguard Books.
Following are websites that provide specialized information on bodyguards, personal protection and executive protection.
- Bodyguard Books – A collection of books on bodyguarding, personal protection and executive protection.
- Bodyguard Careers – BODYGUARD CAREERS is an informational site with the purpose of providing bodyguards with all the information and tools necessary to succeed in the executive protection field.
- Executive Protection Training Institute – The Executive Protection Training Institute