Finding Work In CP (UK Market)


Finding Work In CP (UK Market)

After writing a Beginners’ Guide to Becoming a Close Protection Officer a few years ago and having seen a great deal of questions being asked recently regarding getting started in this industry. I thought it was time to add my experiences since then to help others. I can’t offer any advice for HE as that isn’t my experience. I can only offer a perspective from a civilian background coming into the UK market.

Is It Well Paid?

The first thing you have to ask yourself is why you want to get into this career and what you have to offer that makes you different from all the rest that are trying to get into this field. If it is because you think it is very well paid then you may have to think again. Some do command good rates of pay but most of these have had extensive experience in either DPG or RMP (Ones that have actually done the RMP CP course) and some SF. If you have just left the army with an average career and a few operational tours then you will be joining the masses that are already trying to get a foot in the door. At the moment there are hundreds of people just like you, which are trying but not getting much more than the odd contract, the rest being made up of other security work or maybe some RST positions.

If you do a quick calculation of the average hourly rate for RST and quality event work being £12 per hour getting 48 hours a week then you will probably earn £29,952 before tax. In reality there will be periods where there isn’t any work so yearly earnings will be less than that figure. Compare that with a friend of mine that is a self employed electrician fitting cooker elements. He charges £95 for less than an hour’s work with a part that costs about £10 and probably less than £10 in diesel. That works out to about £70 per hour with the same unpredictability of work load but he rarely starts before 10am and often back home before 6pm. To get qualified as an electrician would probably cost about the same as doing a mid priced CP course.
If it is the money you are after then a trade will be a better bet especially if you have learned a trade in the armed forces which means little training needed once you have left.

What Am I Likely To Earn?

Let’s break it down into components:

  • Quality event work: £11 - £15 per hour
  • RST - £120 - £150 per day for a 12 hour day
  • AGMs: £120 - £165 per day
  • CP: £180 - £300 per day, hours various dependant on client
  • Surveillance: £250 - £300 per day or approx £25 per hour

A good job will cover expenses but not always accommodation so that has to be factored in as well. Most jobs will not cover any additional expenses. Some others may have differing rates but these are the ones I have encountered, the maximum figures I have earned.

I Have Done My Course But I Am Not Finding Any Work.

This is what happens to most people after doing a CP course and expectations of jumping into a contract don’t materialise. One of the main reasons for this is that some training providers don’t really paint the true picture of the industry and for obvious reasons. They are in the business of selling courses. If they told the harsh truth then you probably would walk away and become an electrician for example! Some of this depends on who you did your course with. Some have an operational arm to their company and even though nothing is a guarantee, it does at least offer a chance of getting a foot in the door.
It would be wise to see what other past students have gained after doing a course and be critical of those roles. Some jobs are not CP, much like with roles being described as RST when in fact they are static guarding, or CP when it is in fact a book signing and you have no direct responsibility to the author apart from crowd management at a Waterstones!

Another common mistake is to flood as many companies as possible with your CV. To be honest most companies are getting flooded with CV’s on a daily basis (some mention around 200 a day!) so already you will probably be put in the bin. Using CV writing companies might not always be the best path as so many people are getting someone else to write their CV that there is a high chance yours will look the same as a few others and the main point of a CV is it is a personal statement not a commodity.

Most jobs are passed between people that you have worked with before so it makes more sense to get on to any work going and network with other team members to get the next opportunity. What may seem like a boring dead end job could end up providing you with a good amount of work later. This is something that happened to me where a 5 day £10 per hour job got me around £14,000 worth of work with a very good employer in the past year alone. So it pays to do every job well as you never know where it will lead. Using this way of working has earned me £37,000 over the last two years and I have never in that time sent out a CV to a company looking for work. It is as many say it is who you know that counts in gaining further work.

That figure above is with having a fair amount of time off including the Olympic period so I could enjoy the event properly, trips abroad to see friends and a proper Christmas break. I could have earned more if I applied myself more.

What I will say is be prepared to be flexible and available. The majority of my earnings have come from work outside of CP tasks but it was working with some of those people that opened up opportunities in areas I had not previously thought about.

How Can I Increase My Earning Potential?

A CP course on its own isn’t going to do much to separate you from everyone else, what will is the additional skills you may possess. This could be skills you already have such as languages or recreational hobbies like diving, skiing or other industry related courses like advanced driving, surveillance, medical or even telecommunications and engineering. One thing that is important is an ability to understand the environment and the people you are likely to work for. An understanding of the business world and etiquette for corporate clients and media and TV for celebrities will be advantageous. You could also look at getting into surveillance or counter surveillance which not only could be another revenue stream but also helpful on a CP task to have a specialist in that field. Obviously you could also use your other skills in the down times; I do graphic design as a side line which only requires a laptop and some time / skills. It would not pay the rent but is an added extra for those quiet times.

Is It Worth Doing A Firearms Course?

Short answer is no, for UK work you cannot carry firearms so your training money would be far better being put towards an advanced driving or surveillance course which would offer a good return for your money. If you have never handled weapons before then a two week course will be of no use to gain employment for foreign tasks abroad anyway. The only reason is for personal enjoyment, any training provider that tells you otherwise are lying to you to get your money!

What Are The Prospects In The Industry At The Moment?

As you have heard from many on here the industry is saturated at the moment, not only is there a large amount of ex forces entering the private sector but the recent push of extra security staff due to the Olympics which are surplus to requirements are also now looking for work. Particularly from January to March there is far less work available than the rest of the year. This will have a knock on effect on rates and the publicly available jobs. More jobs will be passed around through internal networking than any advertising or ad hoc CV submissions.

What may be a good opening is the flurry of AGMs that start up towards the end of the financial year. The pay varies a fair bit depending on the client, the company employing (or subcontractor) and venue but it is a very good way of meeting many who work various CP roles in London during the summer months. It is a very small industry so you will start to see familiar faces fairly quickly.

It will be harder over the coming year and foresee some companies going in house to supply security staff in some areas, further closing off revenue streams. Having said that, with determination and a good work ethic, you could find your niche within the industry.

I hope that helps answer some of the questions and everyone please feel free to add any additional information and experiences which will help others starting out.
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Great post Nomad and I really hope people read and digest the information given. Too often do we all read newbies 22 years this 13 years that doing themselves a huge injustice by failing to do a little research.
I don't know about other TPs but when I did my CP course I spent a great deal of time researching, just because the course is over why do people think it end?
Great post, hope people read it. A very realistic look at getting a start in UK CP. Others experience may vary but as a general outlook, excellent.

Any chance mods can make this a sticky to stop so many of the same question?

Should be sent to all Resettlement Offices around the country for the troops to read before they commit themselves into this industry - many still have visions of grandeur on the reality of what this industry entails. What would be good is a hand in glove post along with this giving the reality of HECPO work and a grass root summary on the state of play.
If they have visions of grandeur, then they are failing to use their brains, do their research and have forgotten the 7 Ps (Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance). Even if all the information was in one single post in flashing neon letters, people would still not bother to read it, and they will continue to post asking the same questions.

Research is key :)
Should be sent to all Resettlement Offices around the country for the troops to read before they commit themselves into this industry - many still have visions of grandeur on the reality of what this industry entails. What would be good is a hand in glove post along with this giving the reality of HECPO work and a grass root summary on the state of play.

By all means direct people to this site that are asking questions regarding this :)
Good post and times have changed much over the years, based on your thoughts I forecast the 'Sparkies market' to be saturated within 2 years by service leavers. :)
Been in the private market 18 months myself(abit more before I got my badge) and its a funny industry.

It's so full of shit for around 75% of it, people literally have no idea how to hold themselves in front of clients and need to speak just as clearly and properly as the client themselves. I think presentation and communicational skills are so important, I can not stress.

And if we lived in a perfect world, it would be added to all CP courses. Sadly you can't over turn punctuation, pernounciation and body language in days.

First year:45k
This year: 50-55k depending what summer work I get.

And my CV is NOT impressive. I have a minimal Police Background with some head of security type roles but in total 5 years of experience.

I got these gigs, one through luck and one through pure hard work and impressing. That one lucky break has now sorted me enough that if I left which I plan to do, I would be welcome back on a 42k basic wage with flexibility for time off.

So the money is ok and lots of willy waving etc, now if I worked out what my hourly rate was for last year, it would of been **** all. If I had a family, I wouldn't of seen them hardly, sometimes 6 day weeks with 12 hour days minimum, first 6 months hitting nearly 300 hours.

You are looking after a family or person from when they first move to when they sleep, not including sorting out the logistics and prep before hand. If you want a CP role 9-5, good luck as it virtually doesn't exist.

I lost a relationship over it but I don't care, this job does have potential to earn well but for the family man with kids, it's no life.

The day I get a family is the day I go back in to the Police or something secure.

My friend is a sparky, earns 70k a year.
Mate works for 02 selling business packages, earns 100k.
Mate installs windows, 50k a year.
Mate is a motorcycle courier for virgin bikes, earns 32k a year.

All these people above me work on average 30-50 hour week, Monday to Friday, weekends off with happy families.
There jobs are more secure than mine, they have good social lives and are all more than happy.

This job or industry in comparison is gash, 6-8 months and I'm off on a new adventure.

Money means **** all if you're life is miserable earning it.

You want security, get in to IT Security, the opportunities are endless and it's only going to grow as technology advances.

EDIT:This is written at 4am, finishing 2 weeks of nights and I am zonked.
I could of laid it out better but typing for 10 minutes quickly, you get my point hopefully.
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Also I'd like to point out this is CP/RST work in the UK and obviously some movement abroad.

My friends that work abroad in HE/ Maritime, especially in management earn double or a **** sight more but that's another story.
a very good and acurate post i am myself have only recently just come on to the circuit but have been very lucky picking up a few one on one jobs and doing other security and event work in the mean time every thing written here rings truth ! dont get disheartend guys there is stuff out there you just have to have the nounce and working ethics to get it ! well done for the post very good !
Nice post Nomad and comprehensively laid out.
Pay rates pretty much spot on for the varied tasks etc.

Your post should be first in the queue for newbies looking at the realities of this industry.

Having read a plethora of posts recently from new persons wanting to enter this industry it strikes me the lacking factor is
research and understanding of what we actually do.

It's not a case of doing a CP course then flooding the market with CV's..etc

You need the patience and the get up and go to continue training and to re-evaluate your personal circumstances to fit into the varied jobs out there.

i am going on cp course soon, once its completed i am looking to go on HECPO side of the job what is the best way to go about it?
Davy, please utilise the search function in the first instance, located at the top right, for answers to questions you may have, info you are looking for, etc.

Check out the "New to the Security Industry - Commonly Asked Questions" forum located here:

New to the security - Commonly asked questions

You may also want to check out these posts and associated links, for answers to the same questions that are asked over and over, with regards to the state of jobs in CP for hostile work (including definition of hostile environment) and UK work etc:

This post on research is worth a read:

Research is key :)