Security Systems Installer

The Job and What's Involved

Security systems installers fit and maintain electronic systems which detect intruders and monitor or control the movement of people leaving and entering buildings or sites. They fit systems in:

  • Commercial, retail, manufacturing and industrial premises.
  • Warehouses, banks, hospitals and computer suites.
  • Schools, colleges and universities.
  • Potentially dangerous areas such as railway installations and car parks.
  • Airports, railway and bus stations.
  • City centres.
  • Private homes.

Installers work to a security system plan drafted by a security surveyor or designer. After studying the plan they:

  • Decide which power tools and materials they will need.
  • Travel to their place of work.
  • Install the security system following the plan.
  • Connect it to the control panels, normally by cable, wire-free or radio system links.
  • Test the new security system to check that it is working correctly.
  • Explain to the customer or operators how to use it.
  • Clear up the premises and make sure they leave the site tidy.

A number of other technologies, such as infrared and fibre optics, are now being used in security systems.

Experienced security systems installers visit customers each year to maintain their security systems. They are trained to diagnose and correct faults with a range of security systems, which are designed to be easy for the owner to use, but hard for criminals to overcome.

Specialist security installers may also work in teams, designing totally integrated security systems that combine access control, CCTV, intruder detection, perimeter protection, gates and barriers.

Most security systems installers work from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. Installers working as maintenance fitters are expected to work outside normal hours and be on a duty rota to provide 24-hour cover to customers who have problems with their systems.

They work inside and outside buildings and on all kinds of sites - everything from a stately home to a large office block or a small private house. Working conditions can vary from a dirty and dusty industrial site to a fully air-conditioned penthouse suite.

They have to carry their materials and equipment, and the work could involve climbing ladders and working at heights using various types of access equipment.

Occasionally installers may need to spend time away from home, including spending time abroad, depending on the nature of the job and the employer for which they work. A driving licence may be useful.

Starting salaries for a security systems installer range from around £12,000 to £17,000 a year. With experience, earnings may rise to around £25,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are an estimated 8,000 security companies in towns and cities throughout the UK. They range from large security systems companies employing over 30,000 people to small and medium-sized enterprises employing a handful of installers. Self-employment is quite common.

Approximately 500,000 people work in the security business sector. Over 12 per cent of homeowners have a domestic intruder alarm and there is increasing demand for security systems installers.

Opportunities may be advertised by companies on their websites, in the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices and Connexions centres. Security systems companies are approved by either the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

Education and Training

It may be possible to enter this work without qualifications, but many employers would expect four GCSE's (A*-C) including maths, English and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications.

Normal colour vision is essential and all approved security systems companies run security checks on the background of applicants.

Security Systems Apprenticeships are accredited by Skills for Security, the skills and standards setting body for the security business sector. They blend practical training in the workplace with study at a college or training centre, usually on day release. Apprenticeships run over two or three years. Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 2 at the end of their second year. Most go on to complete an Advanced Apprenticeship, achieving NVQ Level 3 in providing security, emergency and alarm systems.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

The Diploma in construction and the built environment and Diploma in engineering may be relevant for this area of work.

Some employers recruit and train security systems installers through adult learning programmes. Some companies run private training courses but trainees have to pay a fee for these.

Companies approved by the SSAIB can use a number of different qualification schemes that they run, which are designed to suit adult trainees.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Topics studied by apprentices include general electrical principles, and the features of intruder alarms and CCTV.

The Advanced Apprenticeship and SSAIB training schemes may lead to a range of qualifications including:

City & Guilds 1852: knowledge of security and emergency alarm systems.

NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in providing security, emergency and alarm systems.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Security systems installers should:

  • Be good at practical work and able to use a variety of hand and power tools.
  • Be able to solve problems and follow plans and instructions.
  • Have good communication skills for dealing with customers and colleagues.
  • Be completely honest and trustworthy.
  • Be able to work neatly.
  • Be able to explain to customers how systems operate.
  • Be able to work as part of a team and to work alone.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced installers may specialise in certain aspects of the work, such as surveying properties and designing new systems, installing and maintaining systems, or supervising and managing sales, installation or maintenance teams. They can also work for security companies which specialise in intruder alarms, CCTV, access control or fully integrated systems.

Security is a growth industry and there are many opportunities for promotion to management positions.

Get Further Information

Joint Security Industry Council (JSIC),
c/o IPSA, Northumberland House,
11 Popes Lane,
Ealing, London W5 4NG
Tel: 020 8832 7417
Website: www.jsic.org.uk

National Security Inspectorate (NSI),
Sentinel House, 5 Reform Rd,
Maidenhead SL6 8BY
Tel: 01628 637512
Website: www.nsi.org.uk

Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB),
The Smoke Houses, Cliffords Fort,
North Shields, Tyne & Wear NE30 1JE
Tel: 0191 296 3242
Website: www.ssaib.co.uk

Skills for Security, Security House,
Barbourne Road, Worcester WR1 1RS
Tel: 08450 750111
Website: www.skillsforsecurity.org.uk

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