Does the idea of a lucrative paycheck for a dangerous short-term gig in one of the world’s hot spots appeal to you? If you are pondering the notion for more than a moment or wondering how much it pays, then security contracting might be for you.
Private security contracting is a booming industry, particularly given the political desire of many countries to reduce their military footprint overseas. As Kerry Patton observed in his book, “Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors,” 52 percent of the people fighting in Afghanistan in 2012 was contracted to do so.
And private security contractors don’t just work with military and government organizations. Many for-profit companies and non-government organizations operate in war zones, piracy hot spots and destabilized areas. Private security is a vital component of their daily operations.
So who can get a security contracting job?
This is one career path where you won’t need to tame down that military lingo or avoid talking about your hard-core combat experience. The overwhelming majority of security contractors are ex-military personnel, but as you can imagine, they are not the people who spent the majority of their time behind a desk.
Private security companies seek skilled commissioned and non-commissioned officers with combat arms experience, but have a strong preference for ex-Special Forces candidates. You must be ready to deploy, in peak physical condition, and ideally have expertise in jungle or urban combat, intelligence, weapons, maritime security, explosives, VIP close protection or personnel extraction operations. Paramedic or linguistic skills are an added bonus.
What does a security contractor do?
This is where it gets a bit hazy. For obvious reasons, the specific details of your position may not be advertised on the company website. As an example, the job description for a Protective Security Specialist in Afghanistan might detail convoy and facility protection duties. But not specify if you will work alongside military personnel in Kabul or in support of a non-profit organization’s initiatives in a remote rural area.
Typical jobs for security contractors include providing security for facilities, vessels, residences and project sites, escorting convoys transporting commodities such as food, oil, water or weapons, and providing security training to foreign military and police personnel.
The duties may sound very similar to the types of jobs you did in the military. The big thing to remember is that you won’t necessarily have the might of the American military there to back you up if things go badly. The Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University estimates that “over 6,900 contractors working for the U.S. have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.”
Other considerations? It is not going to be a nine-to-five job. Typical contracts have you based in the Middle East or Africa. Your shift may be 12 hours. You could average six days a week for a one-year period, with a four-week vacation halfway through. Alternatively, you may work for two months but then have an unpaid break before your next contract.
If the reality of working in remote locations and placing yourself in harm’s way doesn’t deter you. There are some attractive benefits. Anecdotally, Tier 1 Security Contractors (usually ex-Special Forces personnel) can earn upwards of $600 a day in a hostile area. Annual salaries run from $100K to $250K for those with specialized expertise. And your job won’t be boring.
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Where do I learn more? Check out our 2019 Hop Jobs for Veterans
A great place to explore private security contracting opportunities is careers.gijobs.com. Some sponsored companies that are currently hiring include:
Vinnell Arabia: Vinnell Arabia is the leader in U.S. military doctrine-based training, logistics, and support services inside Saudi Arabia. We answer our customer’s requirements perfectly throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have done so for over 35 years.
With over 1,250 highly experienced employees Kingdom-wide, over half of whom are Saudi nationals, we provide a unique knowledge-base of experience and talent.
DynCorp International: DynCorp International is a leading global services provider offering unique, tailored solutions for an ever-changing world. Their success is based on seven decades of strategic decisions and the dedication of the people who have made them a trusted partner to commercial, government and military customers. We provide sophisticated aviation, logistics, training, intelligence and operational solutions wherever they are needed. DynCorp International is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, USA.
AECOM: At AECOM, veterans can continue to make a difference by putting their military experience to work. We value the unique training and experience military veterans to bring our teams together. Our team is dedicated to identifying the best qualified military candidates for employment. We offer challenging global opportunities and currently employ over nine thousand veterans on projects across the United States and around the world.
Academi: Formerly Blackwater, but now under new leadership, Academi has many contracts in Afghanistan.
AdvanFort: Specializing in maritime security and anti-piracy, AdvanFort personnel provide security for vessels transiting through high-risk piracy areas.
PAE: PAE is contracted to provide a wide variety of services, including critical infrastructure protection and CBRNE/WMD response in countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.
Triple Canopy: Currently offering more than 24 security jobs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
(Companies listed in the above section are paid advertisers that are recruiting for these positions)
Security contracting is not a job for every veteran. It requires the commitment, mental fortitude and physical fitness to take your specialized military skills and return to the world’s danger zones. But for those who thrive in these conditions, the pay and challenge can prove rewarding.
Mission Essential: Mission Essential offers an unparalleled opportunity for military service members and veterans looking to begin a private sector career in the Intelligence Community. We have positions available at all skill levels. Entry-level to SME, across multiple intelligence disciplines in multiple locations. Both CONUS and OCONUS. We invest in the talent and potential of our team members. And of course pride ourselves on our focus on professional development and our promotion rates. Contact us and find your next Mission!
Want to get a degree in Cyber Security? Check out a recent post about colleges with cyber security majors.
Some of the employers listed in this article are sponsors of G.I. Jobs