Bodyguards, or personal protection officers, provide for the personal safety of a client. They study the client's daily schedule and consider possible threats to the client's safety, then they plan the details of the security to protect the client from any harm. They try to make sure the client is following the necessary safety procedures.

While working, bodyguards remain unobtrusive but stay constantly aware of the people around their clients and in the surrounding area. They are always ready to respond to an emergency and take suitable action.

Bodyguards need to know about self-defence and protection procedures. They also need to be familiar with the country’s laws that define the limits of their legal powers. Knowledge of political and social issues and various cultures and societies is also useful.

While bodyguards are protecting a client, they follow and remain close to their client. They may be required to do this in office buildings, airports and aeroplanes, hotel lobbies and rooms and in restaurants, theatres, motor vehicles and other public places. At other times they work in offices and they may be required to travel around the country and overseas.

Bodyguards deal with managers of large organisations, important national and international visitors and politicians, and event organisers. They also have contact with the public and other personal protection officers.

Equipment that bodyguards may use includes mobile phones, radios; computers; motor vehicles; surveillance cameras. They may also be required to carry a weapon.

Personal Requirements

  • good self-defence, driving and negotiating skills
  • good communication, planning and people skills
  • assertive, mature, responsible and calm in emergencies
  • fit, healthy and strong and good stamina
  • neat and tidy appearance

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

No formal school certificate is required, unless entering the Police Force, however, most employers would prefer the highest level of education possible

What to Study

Bodyguards and personal protection officers can be trained either through the South African Police, which is the most common route, or privately. Protection officers who are police officers receive on-the-job training in unarmed combat, driving, and shooting.

Personal protection officers who work privately must be registered under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act.


  • South African Police Force
  • private security firms
  • large organisations
  • political parties
  • self-employment, doing freelance work

Further Information

The Security Association of South Africa (SASA)
842 Pheasant Street
Horizon Park, Roodepoort
Tel: 0861 100 680

Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority
Eco Glades 2 Office Park, Block B
420 Witch-Hazel Avenue
Highveld Ext 70
Centurion, 0157
Tel: 086 107 7472

Getting Started

  • take martial arts courses
  • any type of police and security work would be useful experience for bodyguards and personal protection officers
  • make an appointment to speak to a bodyguard or a personal protection officer about this type of work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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