12 March 2024

Door Supervision: What Does a Door Supervisor Do?

Curious about starting a career as a door supervisor? This lucrative and challenging job role is ideal for those who like to work in fast-paced environments where they may be required to act quickly and decisively to defuse tense situations. Whilst some say that it is ideally suited to those with an ex-military or police background, the truth is that anyone can be a good door supervisor (or close protection officer) as the most important characteristics demand excellent communication skills and the ability to work as a team member.

There is a common misconception that doormen (also known as bouncers, a dated term we do not particularly like) are just the brutes covering the door. In reality, being a good door supervisor has less to do with physical stature and more to do with reasoning skills. Being able to diffuse a situation using good verbal communication will be far more valuable to you as a doorman than being able to physically remove an individual from a venue.

What is a door supervisor?

What is a door supervisor?

Door supervisors are specially trained individuals tasked with protecting people and property. They are typically stationed at the main entrance and check IDs and tickets, making sure customers conform to a venue’s requirements, removing anyone who poses a threat to staff, other patrons or the venue itself.

Door supervisors essentially help a venue to remain compliant with the rules and regulations that are expected of them. This could include controlling capacity, making sure customers are of legal age to enter, and preventing patrons from becoming an annoyance to neighbours. There are four licensing objectives and it is the responsibility of door supervisors to support the designated premises supervisor (DPS), who is often the licensee in a hospitality venue, in meeting these requirements, listed below:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm

How do you become a door supervisor?

How do you become a door supervisor?

To become a qualified door supervisor, you need to complete a recognised training course regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). This course will usually take around 6 days of full-time learning. It will include theory and practical scenarios to help individuals get some hands-on experience of how to handle diverse situations.

There are four exams at the end of the course to ensure you understand how to apply the principles you have learned throughout training. If an individual passes these tests, they can then apply to the SIA for their certification and accreditation. The four exams are:

  • Working in the Private Security Industry
  • Working as a Door Supervisor
  • Conflict Management
  • Physical Intervention

The SIA carries out extensive background checks on each applicant to ensure there is no reason why they cannot become a responsible door supervisor. This includes a criminal background check and a mental health background check.

You will also need a first aid qualification too. The minimum requirement is Emergency First Aid at Work, which is a one day course costing about £80, although it is often rolled up into the cost of an overall Door Supervisor course by training providers as an extra day.

If the applicant satisfies all of the requirements, they will be added to the SIA register of licence holders, and be issued with a photocard licence they must wear while working. It’s common to wear this SIA accreditation as an armband to ensure it remains visible without becoming a choking hazard.

SIA registration lasts for three years, after which time the applicant must apply to renew their licence. It is against the law to work without a valid SIA licence, even if you are awaiting a renewal. This is why it’s important for door supervisors to apply in good time, so they don’t miss out on paid opportunities to work.

Once you are registered, you can apply for door supervisor roles in any type of venue. You will have the skills and knowledge required to perform the role without supervision. It’s important for door supervisors to feel confident in their abilities, as they will often have to act on their own initiative.

The door supervisor SIA badge will also enable you to take on security guard roles too. Also, close protection SIA licence holders are able to deliver both door supervisor and security guard roles. The rates of pay vary, but it is not a typical for freelancer door supervisors to earn in the region of £12.50 per hour, and this can at least double with experience and even treble at busy times of the year, such as Christmas and the New Year.

The main responsibilities of a door supervisor

The main responsibilities of a door supervisor

As a door supervisor, your main role is to uphold the legal security requirements of a venue. You might work for fixed hospitality venues such as bars or clubs, or at seasonal events around the UK. Event work will differ slightly to venue work, as it will often be about crowd control and ensuring licensing regulations are followed correctly. In general, door supervisors will carry out the following tasks on a day-to-day basis.

  • Checking IDs and tickets to ensure only those with the right credentials can gain access.
  • Keeping track of the number of people entering and leaving to prevent the venue being over capacity.
  • Performing searches for drugs and weapons.
  • Enforcing the dress code for the venue and ensuring that customers behave in line with the code of conduct.
  • Removing individuals who are violent or aggressive.
  • Documenting incidents and providing evidence to the police where required.
  • Providing support in an emergency situation, including directing emergency services to incidents.
  • Providing customer service to patrons to ensure they feel safe and protected in the venue. 
  • Confiscating unauthorised and prohibited items discovered during searches. 

In event management, door supervisors might be tasked with the following additional tasks:

  • Ensuring alcohol consumption is restricted to a specific area and that patrons are not consuming anything brought in from outside.
  • Ensuring safe crowd flow.
  • Checking tickets and credentials for backstage areas.

Limitations of the door supervisor role

Limitations of the door supervisor role

Door supervisors usually only make the news when they perform in a way that is beyond the scope of their role. While door supervisors are protected in their roles, they cannot act with impunity. There are many restrictions on what they can and cannot do to protect members of the public. Following the training and acting within the scope of the role is the simplest way to ensure you have the law on their side if something goes wrong. In general, door supervisors cannot legally do the following:

  • Use unnecessary force to remove someone from a venue or to protect bystanders or themselves. If a door supervisor is attacked, it is expected that they can use reasonable and equal force to protect themselves, but it is recommended to use alternative methods to take control of the situation.
  • Door supervisors cannot enforce searches. A patron is free to refuse a search and they are free to walk away at any time. The door supervisor can only state that a search is required to gain entry. However, male and female door supervisors must be present to carry out searches as searches can only be conducted by people of the same sex.
  • Door supervisors cannot detain someone unless they are performing a citizen’s arrest and waiting for the police to arrive. In this situation, they would be acting as a private individual.

What makes a good door supervisor?

What makes a good door supervisor?

A good door supervisor possesses a combination of skills, qualities and characteristics that contribute to the effective performance of their duties. Here are some key attributes that make a good door supervisor:

Effective communication skills

Effective communication is crucial for a door supervisor. They need to interact with customers, colleagues, staff and management in a professional and clear way. The ability to defuse conflicts through communication is essential.

Door supervisors often encounter conflicts. The ability to remain calm under pressure and resolve conflicts diplomatically is a key skill. Training in conflict resolution techniques is hugely beneficial.

Observational and problem-solving skills

Being vigilant and observant helps door supervisors identify potential issues before they escalate. They should be able to quickly assess situations and respond accordingly. They also need to be able to pay attention for long periods of time, even when things might be otherwise quiet. 

Quick thinking and effective problem solving are valuable skills in handling unexpected situations or emergencies. Door supervisors should be able to assess risks and take appropriate actions quickly.

Physical fitness

Physical fitness

The nature of the job may require physical intervention or restraint in certain situations. A good door supervisor should maintain physical fitness to handle situations safely. Height and stature are less important than the ability to communicate well to diffuse tense situations, as door supervisors are trained to rely on body language, tone of voice and spoken words much more than physical presence. 

Customer service

Providing good customer service is critically important for creating a positive atmosphere within a venue – you really are the first impression made on customers, so make sure it is a good one. A friendly and approachable demeanour helps in interacting with customers and managing situations more effectively. Maintaining high ethical standards is also crucial. Door supervisors should act with integrity, honesty and fairness in all their interactions. 

They need to understand what is expected of them and follow the door supervisor’s code of conduct, including their appearance and how they communicate with others. A good door supervisor always conducts themselves professionally. This includes dressing appropriately, being punctual and treating everyone with respect.

Training and certification

Training and certification

Keeping up-to-date with industry training and certifications is also recommended. Continuous learning helps door supervisors to stay informed about best practice and new technologies. Training is updated frequently as the threats facing door staff change and evolve. Being committed to continuing professional development (CPD) is likely to lead to better opportunities, higher pay and increased job satisfaction.

Closing thoughts

Door supervisors are an essential cog in the world of security. They help to ensure the proprietor of a venue remains compliant with the laws and regulations applicable to them while also helping to keep customers safe from violence and disorder. As the threat of terrorism evolves, door staff are also trained to look for signs of suspicious behaviour.

The role is incredibly diverse, which is why door supervisors undergo extensive and ongoing training. They also need on-the-job experience to be able to perform their role to the best of their abilities. If you’re interested in becoming a door supervisor, you will need to complete an SIA-approved training programme and apply for your SIA licence. Once you have secured your SIA-approved photocard licence you can then apply for door supervisor work.