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What does a Bodyguard do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A bodyguard is a trained professional who typically ensures the personal security of individuals. Most bodyguards work for famous celebrities, important political figures, business executives, or other people who are potentially in danger of personal attacks. They accompany clients to public events, identify possible dangers, perform security checks, and plan escape routes. In the event of harassment or attacks, bodyguards jump to action to defend their clients.

Despite the common image of a bodyguard being a huge, bulky, silent figure, in reality most bodyguards are average-looking people. A bodyguard must still be physically fit, however, and able to defend himself and his client during a crisis. In addition, bodyguards need to have strong communication, planning, and problem-solving skills. They must be able to effectively give directions to event security guards and go over procedures with their clients. Bodyguards need to react quickly and efficiently in emergency situations, and be able to make on-the-spot decisions about changes in plans.

A bodyguard may work alone or as part of a security team. He stays close to his client at all times, observing bystanders and keeping people away at a safe distance. Before a client enters a facility or public meeting place, the bodyguard carefully surveys the situation and determines the best ways to exit should problems arise. Additionally, bodyguards are often responsible for driving their clients to and from events. They must plan routes carefully to ensure that their clients arrive and depart from their destinations safely.

In most settings, a high school diploma is sufficient to become a bodyguard. Professionals are usually required to pass training courses offered by specialized bodyguard schools in self defense, first aid, weapons disarming, and defensive driving. Training programs typically consist of classroom and online studies, and can take one month to one year to complete. A large number of bodyguards are former members of the military or a police force, since experts in such fields have already received much of the training and experience necessary to successfully perform the job.

Many bodyguards carry weapons such as firearms and tasers. In most countries, they must receive specialized training and certification in order to carry concealed weapons. Training courses at shooting ranges prepare individuals to safely operate firearms and hone their defense skills. In the rare instance that a shot must be fired, the bodyguard needs to be fully prepared to handle the situation quickly and protect innocent bystanders.

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Discussion Comments

By anon347502 — On Sep 07, 2013

Can someone of five feet, four inches tall be a bodyguard?

By anon249830 — On Feb 23, 2012

I actually am a Personal Protection Specialist (PPS) or "bodyguard". And the job includes*long* stretches of mind-numbing boredom, very unpredictable schedules and hours, not knowing when you will be able to eat, sleep, drink or go to the bathroom, and running "what if" scenarios in your head while watching everyone and everything in the room (entrances, exits, waiters, friends, family, etc.). Also, you must know where the bathrooms, exits, kitchen and fire extinguishers. You must know where the closest hospital, fire department and police station are located and how to get there. You need to know the restaurant manager's name, advise the waiter if the client has any food allergies, and must have not only the proper medical supplies, but the knowledge to use them correctly. Before getting to the restaurant, you ride with the driver to the restaurant, looking at the route as well as alternate routes and doing a dry run to the hospital.

Now that we are seated, and so I don't draw too much attention to him, I must know proper etiquette and manners, (e.g., what fork to use and when, how to hold a wine glass, etc.).

"What if" scenarios are plans that you go over in your head while making up possible things that could happen. (e.g., if someone walked into the restaurant with an AK-47, what should I do?, Where should we go to, What's the best and closest exit, etc.).

All of the is going on so that the client doesn't have to worry about it. His time is much too important to have to give any of this a thought. He knows and understands that he is paying me a very large sum, so all of this happens out of sight, discreetly and professionally.

"If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur."

By Perdido — On Sep 19, 2011

I work for a corporation run by a very wealthy, much hated man. When he goes to conferences or other public appearances, he takes along his bodyguard, who happens to be my good friend.

He told me that being an executive bodyguard generally is not as hard as guarding someone that everyone in the world knows, like a famous actor or singer. Though it is very possible that disgruntled employees or former coworkers could attempt to kill him, he doesn’t have to hold off a crazed crowd.

Once, when the executive was giving a speech at an event, a man with a baseball bat jumped up on stage and ran toward him. My friend was ready, though. He was seated right behind the executive, so all he had to do was jump up, block the man, and snatch the bat from his hands. Security handled the rest.

By wavy58 — On Sep 18, 2011

I went to a concert not long ago, and the musician was signing autographs and meeting her fans in the lobby after the show. I remember thinking it might be dangerous for her, because she is so popular.

The danger was lessened by the bodyguards on either side of her at the table she was sitting behind. They remained standing and watched with cautious eyes as she hugged her fans. They were ready to snatch her up if someone tried to pick her up and run away.

Though a few of the guys may have had this in mind, I’m sure they changed their plans after seeing how closely guarded she was. If I were famous, I think I would take my bodyguard everywhere.

By sunnySkys — On Sep 17, 2011

@KaBoom - I've never thought about it that way, but the way you're describing it does sound sad. On the other hand, maybe those bodyguards don't care and really enjoy their jobs. Who knows!

This isn't quite the same, but I've known a few people who worked as bouncers over the years. It's kind of the same thing where they are watching people have fun and not able to participate. None of the bouncers I knew ever felt upset and left out. In fact, most of them liked their jobs!

By KaBoom — On Sep 17, 2011

@manykitties2 - You are right, the job of bodyguard is far from glamorous! I used to work at a large club in the downtown area of a major city, so we would get some famous people coming through.

Once, a famous singer and their entourage came in, complete with several body guards. While the singer and entourage drank shot after shot and had a great time, the bodyguards just stood there and kept watch! I actually felt a little sorry for them, to be honest.

It must be hard to watch the lives of the rich and famous day after and day and not be able to take part!

By Valencia — On Sep 17, 2011

I bet the numbers of people enquiring about places on a bodyguard course rose after the movie with Whitney Houston was released!

Most of the women I know thought Kevin Costner was just the most perfect man. I'm sure the job is nothing like as glamorous in reality, but it is a kind of tough guy position. That's always attractive to me.

By manykitties2 — On Sep 17, 2011

There is a security company in my hometown that does bodyguard training and offers bodyguard courses to pretty much anyone that can pass a criminal background check and can demonstrate that they are physically fit. The bodyguard jobs they offer aren't really for superstar celebrities or anything, but more for local VIPs and to keep crowds under control at city events.

I think that a lot of people get into the bodyguarding profession because they think it will be glamorous. Bodyguarding actually seems like really hard work. Long hours of standing, combined with dealing with unruly people all day can't be very much fun.

By animegal — On Sep 16, 2011

I remember when I would go to concerts to see my favorite groups perform and they would always have these huge personal bodyguards around. Some of those guys had to be well over 6'5" tall and probably weighed in around 350 - 400 lbs... and no, they weren't fat.

While the bodyguards I saw never actually had to do crowd control while I was there, I am pretty sure their sheer size had to do with people not trying anything. Bodyguard protection is great for celebrities, as it definitely keeps unruly fans at bay.

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