How to Hire a Bodyguard

"Bodyguard" has become a "Hollywood-ized" term and is probably not what you want. The vocational name is "Executive Protection" or "Personal Security" and specialists are not hard to find. Follow these instructions to ensure you're getting someone truly qualified to protect another person's life and well-being.


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    Understand that "Personal Security" is a professional service, so keep your expectations realistic. As the core component of PROTECTIVE SERVICES, Personal Security is divided among several specialties focused on the type of person being protected. Individuals trained to handle corporate executives, politicians, dignitaries and high net-value families fall under "Executive Protection" or "EP" in contrast with those trained to handle Celebrities, Actors, Musicians, Professional Athletes and other high-profile, public individuals are commonly referred to as "Talent Security". All qualified Practitioners are driven to be visibly low profile and are capable of adapting to and remaining as unobtrusive to your lifestyle as possible.
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    As, unlike the United Kingdom, there are no national civilian training standards for this profession in the US or Canada, there are several titles a Practitioner may use: Executive Protection, Protective Services, Personal Protection or Personal Security.
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    Like the Secret Service, the best individuals are proactive, clean cut, intelligent, articulate, educated professionals that are trained to PREVENT a threat to your welfare. Contrast these specialists with the stereotypical 400-pound thugs working for Britney Spears or Madonna. These "bodyguards" are only able to REACT to a threat and are usually working as bouncers or bounty hunters and "sidelining" as a Bodyguard and generally lack the specialized training.
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    Look on the Internet for your state’s private security company regulations. Learn the name of the required license for “Bodyguard” or “Personal Protection Officer” or something closely related. The candidates will need this license in order to work for you. That said, do not assume that a "Bodyguard" license from any state is in and of itself a good indicator of their abilities. The majority of states have no requirements other than a Concealed Handgun License, a few have very stringent training requirements and the rest have appallingly low training requirements that meet no professionally recognized minimum training standards. These licenses have names like Personal Protection Officer (PPO) or Personal Protection Specialist (PPS) and are probably required for the individual to work for you but most are acquired with very little training that anyone can get if they have a "Security Guard" license and $100 to pay for a "Bodyguard" course.
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    Ensure your candidates are graduates of a Government Protective Services course from the;
    • United States Secret Service (Special Agent versus Uniformed Division))
    • US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service
    • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
    • US Army Military Police School's Protective Services Training Course
    • US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID)
    • US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)
    • US Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI)

      or graduates from one of the few, internationally recognized and respected, civilian executive protection schools in the US like;
    • Executive Security International(ESI)in Colorado
    • Executive Protection Institute in Virginia
    • R.L. Oatman & Associates in Maryland
    • National Protective Services Institute in Texas
    • Gavin de Becker & Associates in California
    • The former Vance International in Virginia
    • International Training Group in California
    • Texas A&M University's TEEX in Texas
    • Academi/US Training Center in North Carolina
    • Executive Protection International in Massachusetts.
    • There is also a University that specializes in Personal Protection Management and offers Bachelors, Master's and Doctorate level Degrees (see Henley-Putnam University)
    • If a candidate attended a school not listed above, ensure that the instructors openly identify themselves, have extensive experience (10+ years) in Government Protective Services or a civilian equivalent and that the course was a MINIMUM of 100 hours of formal personal security training.
    • As a second choice, consider “Executive Protection/Protective Services/Corporate Security” personnel from Fortune 500 corporations like Microsoft, Dell, Boeing, IBM, etc., with direct (not limited or collateral) experience.
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    Just because someone has been in the military, law enforcement or has worked overseas on a Protective Services Detail (PSD) DOES NOT mean they have the right mind-set, training or skill-sets to perform Personal Security within the United States.
    • If a candidate claims to have been a member of a US military Special Operations Force, like Army Special Forces "Green Beret", US Army Ranger, Navy SEAL, Air Force Combat Controller, Marine Corps Special Operations (MARSOC), etc., ask them to provide you an ORIGINAL copy of their DD214. This document is issued to all former military service members and will give you the names of schools they graduated from and their professional character while in the service. If they claim their background is "Classified", they are lying to you. The only thing actually classified about their military background would be missions they took part in.
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    Get a photocopy of the applicant’s driver’s license, Social Security card and copies of any professional certificates.
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    Conduct a background check on the web and pay for a simple criminal history check.
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    Have every candidate sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (available for free on the Internet) before discussing your needs or personal information.
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    Look for specific experience, and ask for examples of how the candidate has demonstrated proficiency in skills including, but not limited to:
    • Choreography (knowing how to stand, walk and get in and out of a car with a Protectee)
    • Conducting advance work to prepare for trips and events ahead of time
    • Effective countermeasures to deal with an attack or security threat if one materializes
    • Knowledge of physical security and access control systems
    • Formal training in specialized driving skills, and
    • Extensive Firearms and Defensive Tactics or martial arts training
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    Ask the candidate about "big name" people s/he has protected. If s/he gives you a list of names, those names would likely be okay and can most often be verified by contacting the company, government office or a celebrity's agent or representative. However if a candidate starts revealing personal information it is possible that they are violating non-disclosure and confidentiality statements they agreed to. At the same time, do not accept the response, "I can't tell you for reasons of privacy." Good bodyguards are very careful about divulging information about former clients or protects, and will find a way for you to verify their claims without violating confidentiality agreements.
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    Specialized driving skills are generally considered a sub-specialty within Personal Security and are commonly known as Evasive and/or Counter-ambush Driving, that few Personal Security practitioners have formal, in-depth training in. Again, there are very few recognized and respected schools in the US that teach these skills;
    • Scotti School of Defensive Driving (SSDD)
    • Bill Scott Raceways (BSR)
    • Vehicle Dynamics Institute
    • Bob Bondurant School of Performance Driving
    • Crossroads Training Academy
    • Advanced Driving & Security Inc. (ADSI)
    • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Vehicle Ambush Countermeasures Training Program (VACTP).


  • Look for these traits in your candidates:

    • Integrity
    • Candor
    • Confidence
    • Discretion
    • Bearing
    • Attention to Detail
    • Responsiveness
    • Flexibility
    • Intelligence
    • Patience
    • Commitment
    • Experience
  • The person you hire should blend-in to your lifestyle. Will this person be able to dress and act like you and the people around you?


  • Be very wary of any website or brochure that has images of SWAT Personnel, Ninjas, Samurai, "Secret Agents" or has guns on every page.
  • If an individual's or agency's website does NOT contain information like the name of the owner and where they have received their EP training and VERIFIABLE experience, immediately disregard them.
  • Avoid hiring people with big egos, overly "gung-ho" or combative attitude or a "militant" personality.
  • If your search leads you to a Private Investigator, inquire as to where they received their formal Executive Protection training and the names of at least two of their clients or client representatives.

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