Saturday, January 3, 2015

So you REALLY want to be a Gate Guard

Let me first say that this post (and others) is just my opinion. It is an opinion; however, formed from years of gate guarding experience and networking with a wide variety of learned folks in the petroleum business.

A wide variety of factors have served to form a pall over the gate guarding industry. The weather has been horrific (at least for South Texas), with relentless rain and cold temperatures. Gates have been extremely difficult to obtain; both for veteran and rookie guards, with the wait extending into weeks, or longer. It is not difficult to imagine the depressing atmosphere caused by the lack of opportunity and the muddy, difficult conditions.

There are a lot of reasons being thrown about as to why gate guard employment has been so difficult this year. The predominant theory seems to be the oil glut and the resulting lower fuel prices. Understandably, a lot of folks would like to know when things might improve. I submit that a wide variety of factors are responsible; but mostly it is just the sheer amount of folks looking for work. Shortly after the beginning of our adventure as gate guards we could sense change in the air. Things were just like I imagine a gold rush might have been like back in the day. Organization, scheduling and logistics went out the window and companies, both big and small, were dragging rigs around and punching holes. Even the larger organizations got caught up in the "wildcatting" fever. Obviously, things couldn't continue at that pace. Slowly but surely things fell into order and organization began to take over. In the meantime word had gotten out and folks; lured by tales of gate guards making big money, flooded the oil patch-especially during the winter. Sure; we're seeing a bit of a slowdown. However, I believe that is mostly a result of the cyclic nature of the business. First quarter funding has yet to occur, hunting season has yet to pass and the weather naturally slows everything down. Unfortunately, until the word gets out and the sheer number of candidates wane, potential guards are going to be forced to sit and wait for opportunities.

So what does this mean to folks looking for gate guard work? I have long said that I believe the "golden age" for gate guarding has passed. I have also long predicted that we have no more than ten (probably more like five) years left in this boom. Full time guards will continue to get first choice of gates and the guard companies will become choosier about who they employ. Pay will deteriorate and; eventually, most of the security work will be done by uniformed guards in guard shacks. In the meantime, if you have thoroughly thought it over and want to pursue gate guarding work, I have some simple suggestions. Do the guard company(s) and yourself a favor and DON'T come south till you are certain that you will have a gate. Ignore any guard company that insists you have to be in the area before they will consider posting you on a gate; unless they are willing to pay for or provide a spot for you to stay while you wait. Ignore any guard company that insists that you have to come down to do paperwork or fingerprinting or any of that nonsense. If they want you and they have a gate available they can get you on said gate within twenty four hours or less. You don't have to physically possess a license (or hard card) to work a gate, provided you have completed all the necessary paperwork and passed the level two non commissioned security officer test. If you decide to ignore these suggestions, be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of time sitting. Guard companies love nothing more than having a captive employment pool to draw from that is available to them at no cost. Workamping in general, is suffering from this same malady. Jobs are scarce and the employers are in the cat bird's seat. Wages have fallen and work for site opportunities have become the norm. One way to make the transition into gate guarding easier is to establish contact with working guards that know the situation of their respective companies. Utilize the social networks that are readily available and glean as much information as you can from them. Unless and until the sheer amount of candidates ebbs, winter gate guarding opportunities are going to continue to be few and far between.


  1. What about spring and summer. Will there still be opportunity do you think?

    1. This summer will be a make or break point for the future of gate guarding. If we aren't short of gate guards during the summer, then things do not bode well. I can only hope that oil prices stabilize (and rise!) or we're all in trouble. Do not come to S Texas unless you know you have a gate waiting!