Does the idea of a lucrative paycheck for a dangerous short-term gig in one of the world’s hot spots appeal to you? If you are pondering the notion for more than a moment or wondering how much it pays, then security contracting might be for you.
Private security contracting is a booming industry, particularly given the political desire of many countries to reduce their military footprint overseas. As Kerry Patton observed in his book, “Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors,” 52 percent of the people fighting in Afghanistan in 2012 were contracted to do so.
And private security contractors don’t just work with military and government organizations. Many for-profit companies and non-government organizations operate in war zones, piracy hot spots and destabilized areas. Private security is a vital component of their daily operations.
So who can get a security contracting job?
This is one career path where you won’t need to tame down that military lingo or avoid talking about your hard-core combat experience. The overwhelming majority of security contractors are ex-military personnel, but as you can imagine, they are not the people who spent the majority of their time behind a desk.
Private security companies seek skilled commissioned and non-commissioned officers with combat arms experience, but have a strong preference for ex-Special Forces candidates. You must be ready to deploy, in peak physical condition, and ideally have expertise in jungle or urban combat, intelligence, weapons, maritime security, explosives, VIP close protection or personnel extraction operations. Paramedic or linguistic skills are an added bonus.
What does a security contractor do?
This is where it gets a bit hazy. For obvious reasons, the specific details of your position may not be advertised on the company website. As an example, the job description for a Protective Security Specialist in Afghanistan might detail convoy and facility protection duties, but not specify if you will work alongside military personnel in Kabul or in support of a non-profit organization’s initiatives in a remote rural area.
Typical jobs for security contractors include providing security for facilities, vessels, residences and project sites, escorting convoys transporting commodities such as food, oil, water or weapons, and providing security training to foreign military and police personnel.
The duties may sound very similar to the types of jobs you did in the military. The big thing to remember is that you won’t necessarily have the might of the American military there to back you up if things go badly. The Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University estimates that “over 6,900 contractors working for the U.S. have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.”
Other considerations? It is not going to be a nine-to-five job. Typical contracts have you based in the Middle East or Africa. Your shift may be 12 hours, and you could average six days a week for a one-year period, with a four-week vacation halfway through. Alternatively, you may work for two months but then have an unpaid break before your next contract.
If the reality of working in remote locations and placing yourself in harm’s way doesn’t deter you, there are some attractive benefits. Anecdotally, Tier 1 Security Contractors (usually ex-Special Forces personnel) can earn upwards of $600 a day in a hostile area. Annual salaries run from $100K to $250K for those with specialized expertise. And your job won’t be boring.
Where do I learn more?
A great place to explore private security contracting opportunities is careers.gijobs.com. Companies that are currently hiring include:
Academi: Formerly Blackwater, but now under new leadership, Academi has many contracts in Afghanistan.
AdvanFort: Specializing in maritime security and anti-piracy, AdvanFort personnel provide security for vessels transiting through high-risk piracy areas.
PAE: PAE is contracted to provide a wide variety of services, including critical infrastructure protection and CBRNE/WMD response in countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.
Triple Canopy: Currently offering more than 24 security jobs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Security contracting is not a job for every veteran. It requires the commitment, mental fortitude and physical fitness to take your specialized military skills and return to the world’s danger zones. But for those who thrive in these conditions, the pay and challenge can prove rewarding.
This is an excerpt of an article written by Melanie for G.I. Jobs Magazine. To read the full article, visit http://www.gijobs.com/a-guide-to-contracting-jobs-for-veterans-overseas/