A program to train security personnel is to begin next year at Owens Community College.
Applications are being accepted for the Private Armed Security Training Academy at Owens' School of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Tuition is $1,450, and the first class of up to 24 students will begin Jan. 24. Graduates will be prepared for state certification.
The seven-week course is the only one of its kind in northwest Ohio and will prepare students for a field that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Occupational Outlook Handbook recognized as among the 30 fastest-growing job fields.
According to the 2010-11 edition, the employment of security guards and casino surveillance officers is expected to increase 14 percent by 2018.
"In today's economy, that's significant growth," Mike Cornell, director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness at Owens, said. "When it comes to critical infrastructure, nuclear power plants, water plants, bridges, it's really the private-security sectors that's going to be called on to protect those."
The median income for security guards in May, 2008, was $23,460, or about $11.25 an hour, while casino guards were paid $28,850, or about $13.85 an hour. Guards certified to carry firearms typically are paid more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although no wage estimates were provided in the latest handbook.
Security guards to be hired at the $250 million casino under construction in East Toledo, Hollywood Casino, will not be armed, said Karen Bailey, director of public affairs for Penn National Gaming. How many security officers will be hired will not be determined until six months before the casino opens in 2012, she added.
A recent survey of Northwest Ohio firms by Owens estimates security guards are paid $31,000, or $15 an hour, Mr. Cornell said. Most are unarmed.
Business that did not employ guards who carry firearms reported to Owens that "the reason they stay away from armed security is because there has never really been a standard" for training, Mr. Cornell said.
"This is going to provide a source of individuals who are well trained, that have a high level of integrity and professionalism," Mr. Cornell said.
Applicants for the armed security program must submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting, physical agility test, and a short interview in a process similar to prospective students of the police academy at Owens, Mr. Cornell added.
Both new students and established professionals may be attracted to the new training program, said Robert Albright, coordinator of public service training at Owens' school of public safety and emergency preparedness.
"I think you'll see the folks that are already working to enhance their career will come through the program, and I think the new people that are just getting into the career field will get in to the program," Mr. Albright said.
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