close protection officer (CPO)

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would protect individuals or groups from risk of violence, kidnapping or other harmful situations.

Your client or ‘principal’ could include celebrities, public figures, the royal family and heads of industry.

You’d accompany your client in public places to keep them safe. You’d carefully observe the situation so you can recognise risks and react quickly and calmly.

You would adapt and improvise in situations to ensure your client is kept safe, for example from terrorists, political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans.

You would:

  • Accompany clients on business and social visits
  • Plan trips and do research to identify and prevent potential threat or disruption
  • Check out premises before clients arrive
  • Stay constantly alert to threatening situations
  • Drive clients to and from venues

You might work as part of a close protection team with other bodyguards and professional drivers or offer your services as an individual.

You could work in high or low risk environments. This will depend on where you are working and who you are protecting.

For example, a high risk environment means you might protect a public figure in an unstable place like Iraq or Afghanistan. A low risk environment is one where your client may be a celebrity who needs to be protected from over-enthusiastic fans.

You could specialise in a particular area such as residential security - protecting people in their own homes - or defensive and evasive driving techniques.

Discretion is important: you’d need to respect your clients’ confidentiality.

Working conditions


You may work as part of a 24-hour protection team. This could involve working long shifts in the day, evening or at the weekend.


You could be working at indoor or outdoor venues, like conferences, political meetings and rallies. Depending on your client you could also be required to attend social events.


It is likely that you would be required to travel often in this job. You may also need to spend time away from home, sometimes overseas.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Reliable
  • Taking responsibility
  • Making decisions
  • Risk taking
  • Developing a plan
  • Researching
  • Observation
  • Problem solving

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


Although you do not need formal qualifications for this role most employers value a good general education.

For many jobs you will need to achieve an SIA-approved Level 3 Certificate in Close Protection which requires a minimum of 140 hours of learning.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Physical education
  • ICT subjects

You will also need

For many jobs you will require a Close Protection Licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). To get this you must be:

  • Over 18 years old
  • Pass an identity check
  • Pass a criminal record check
  • Do the required minimum of 140 hours of learning  

You will need to renew your licence every three years.

You must also achieve a recognised First Aid certificate and will need a driving license. 

Helpful to have

Previous experience in the police or armed forces would be beneficial, but is not essential.

It may be useful if you have knowledge of one or more foreign languages.