29 March 2024

How Much Do Bodyguards (Protection Operatives) Earn?

The world is becoming more dangerous, which means the need for personal security and close protection has never been higher. From high profile celebrities to wealthy corporate executives, individuals are increasingly seeking the services of bodyguards or protection operatives to ensure their safety in various environments. 

These individuals work long hours in difficult and dangerous situations. They also carry out extensive training in areas such as conflict resolution and physical intervention. It’s an industry that attracts a wide range of individuals, often from ex-army officers to security guards, but also from lots of different backgrounds. As is often the case, attitude, mindset, character and personality are the most important aspects to doing the job well.

The industry is shrouded in misconceptions. And one of the biggest mysteries surrounds how much professionals earn. In this guide, we answer this common question about the security industry, so you can decide if this career path could be right for you.

How much do close protection operatives earn?

How much do close protection operatives earn?

The compensation for bodyguards or protection operatives in the UK can vary significantly depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, client demands and the level of risk involved in the job. While some may envision lavish salaries for those tasked with protecting high-net-worth individuals, the reality can be more nuanced.

Typically, entry-level bodyguards or protection operatives may start with an annual salary ranging from £20,000 to £30,000 per year. This figure can increase substantially with experience and specialised skills. Those with a background in law enforcement or military service may command higher salaries due to their training and expertise.

For mid-level professionals with several years of experience, salaries can range from £30,000 to £50,000 per year. These individuals may have additional certifications or specialised training in areas such as close protection, threat assessment or emergency response, which can further enhance their earning potential.

At the upper echelons of the profession, experienced bodyguards or protection operatives working with high-profile clients or in high-risk environments can earn well over £50,000 per year. In some cases, salaries can exceed £100,000, particularly for those providing security to A-list celebrities, politicians and corporate executives who face significant threats to their safety.

In the freelance world, rates of pay typically start at £200 per day and can go up to £500 or even £600 per day (perhaps even more) for those at the top if the pile. Personality, charm, charism, grooming, fitness, attractiveness and martial arts skills can all boost earnings.

What other benefits do close protection officers enjoy?

What other benefits do close protection officers enjoy?

In addition to base salaries, many bodyguards or protection operatives receive additional compensation in the form of bonuses, overtime pay, health insurance, pension contributions and travel allowances. Some may also negotiate lucrative contracts which include perks like housing allowances, luxury vehicles and expense accounts.

How much does it cost to train as a close protection officer?

The training is usually an intensive 18-day course that will cost around £900. You will also need to pay for your licence, which costs £189. The licence expires every three years, and you will need to take additional top-up training to secure your licence renewal.

This is a relatively low cost training route when you consider that you could be earning in excess of £30,000 after a few years. The barriers to entry are low, but not everyone is suited to a career in close protection, and this will quickly become evident during your training period and/or during your first year or so on the job.

Is close protection a good career path?

Is close protection a good career path?

It’s important to note that the demand for bodyguards or protection operatives in the UK can fluctuate based on factors including geopolitical tensions, social unrest and the individual security needs of clients. As a result, job opportunities and earning potential within the industry vary from year to year.

Moreover, the level of professionalism, discretion and reliability demonstrated by bodyguards or protection operatives can significantly impact their earning potential and career advancement opportunities. Building a reputation for excellence in the field and establishing trust with clients can lead to higher paying assignments and longer term contracts.

Working with an agency or working as a freelancer can be one of the best ways to secure a range of experience that will help to increase your earning potential.

Closing thoughts

The compensation for bodyguards or protection operatives in the UK varies widely depending on factors such as experience, skills, client demands and the level of risk involved in the job. Geography also plays a part with clients willing to pay more in the big cities.

While entry-level salaries may start modestly, experienced professionals working with high-profile clients or in high-risk environments are able to command six-figure incomes from their clients and £500+ day rates for freelance work. 

Ultimately, the earning potential within this industry is reflective of the critical role these professionals play in safeguarding the safety and wellbeing of their clients in an increasingly uncertain world.