What Does a Security System Installer Do? (Plus Key Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to work with technology and help people and businesses protect their buildings and physical assets, you can become a security systems installer. These professionals help millions of companies and people with remote security systems that detect and prevent intruders every year. Understanding the job duties, skills and career pathway to becoming a security systems installer can help you decide if it's the right career path for you. In this article, we answer the question, 'what does a security system installer do?', show what skills they need and explore five steps to becoming an installer.

What does a security system installer do?

A security system installer, or security system technician, is a person who installs home and business security systems. These systems often include things like motion sensors, cameras, and a keypad to control the system's various functions and arm or disarm it. An installer helps the customer through the first-time security system set-up by installing all components and guiding the customer through some basic operations of their new system. Security system installers are typically high school educated, though some may have an advanced degree in a technology or security discipline. A security system installer has many duties during the installation process, including:

Installing security equipment

The system installer primarily installs security system components such as:

  • closed-circuit cameras, or CCTV

  • motion sensors

  • alarm systems

  • infrared cameras

  • keypads and control docks

Installers have technical knowledge in the installation and troubleshooting of various security system tools. This might include knowledge in cable splicing and electrical installation and connecting systems to phone lines. They also understand how to drill through walls, floors and various surfaces to mount hardware and run cables to connect the system.

Troubleshooting equipment for first time use

After the installer gets the equipment running, they run tests to ensure everything works correctly. Installers use specific criteria to determine if the equipment is working, the connections are secure and if any adjustments are necessary. For example, an installer might note that the motion sensor in one room only activates when a fast-moving object passes by the sensor. They might adjust the sensor or replace it to ensure it activates anytime there's a movement of any speed. Installers are often repairmen for the systems, so anytime a customer requires a repair or troubleshooting, they call the installer.

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Guiding customers through the use of the security equipment

After initial installation, installers help guide customers through their first-time use of the security equipment. They might show customers how to operate the keypad and arm or disarm the system. This can also include some basic troubleshooting methods to minimise frequent service requests. Installers can help customers understand how their security system works and what they're paying for with their service package.

Inspecting sites to determine security needs

Security system technicians help inspect the site they're installing equipment to determine the customer's security needs. They might work closely with a customer to learn more about the layout of the location, the likelihood of break-ins in the area and why the customer wants a security system installed. Installers scout locations for equipment like motion sensors and CCTVs to determine the best way to maximise the use of this equipment. For example, the installer might determine that a building with multiple windows requires motion sensors on the window panes inside the building.

Related: How To Become a Police Officer

Running cables and wires

Security system technicians also run cables and wires to and from the security system's keypad or hub and connect all of the hardware. They also run lines outside of the building to phone lines if the customer has a system that automatically calls law enforcement when something triggers the alarm. This can require extensive electrical knowledge and an understanding of how cables pass through walls and connect to the hardware. Installers ensure that cables don't interfere with phone lines or electrical wires and that all components have a connection.

Upgrading equipment or systems

A security system installer may return to the worksite to upgrade equipment as requested by the customer. This might require a thorough review of the hardware already present and working closely with the customer to determine the details of the upgrade. For example, a business owner might decide that they want to include CCTV in their security system. The installer works with the customer to determine the cost, placement and operation of each unit.

How to become a security system installer

Becoming a security system technician or installer requires specific training and education. Here are five steps to become a security system installer:

1. Obtain a technical security traineeship

A security traineeship is the first step to becoming a security system installer. A traineeship allows you to work for a security system company under a licensed installer to learn about the job, develop your installation, troubleshooting and hardware skills and other technical skills. Employers typically require up to a level three traineeship, which expands greatly on the technical skills you learn in levels one and two and teaches you advanced system design and installation. You also get to work with a wider variety of security systems and expand your overall knowledge in the industry.

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2. Obtain an OHSA white card

Security systems installer jobs are construction-related positions, which require specific safety training for safe work environments. This white card course offered by OSHA, or Occupational Health Services Australia, teaches you the fundamentals of construction site safety. The course is five hours long. With a white card, you may be a more attractive candidate for employment for future jobs and your safety skills can help prevent injury or workplace accidents.

3. Obtain your cabling registration from an ACMA provider

The ACMA, or Australian Communications and Media Authority, sets specific safety and conduct requirements for anyone in Australia working with electrical cables. Security systems installers often work with electrical cables and wires. ACMA-certified providers teach new cablers the fundamentals of safety and technical skills for running cables, connecting electrical components and how to cut cables. Cabling registration helps show an employer that you're safe with electrical cables, understand how to work with them and allows you to legally install cables in Australia.

4. Get your security installer's licence

The Australian government requires security system installers to hold a government licence through the Australian Business Licence and Information Service, or ABLIS. The licence certifies that the holder has completed safety and technical training in security systems installation and meets the minimum government requirements for age, fees and training. To obtain a licence, you fill out an application and pay a fee based on your licence requirements.

5. Continue developing your skills

Becoming a security installer can be a good first step in the security industry and offers many valuable, transferrable soft and hard skills. You can seek other avenues of employment in security, such as security analyst or advisor. Pursue opportunities such as company-sponsored training or seminars that focus on the security industry and your job. Developing your skills might make you a more desirable candidate for employers and can also increase your wage opportunities.

Related: Guide: How To Choose a Career

Key skills for installers

Here are some key skills for security installers:

  • Electrical skills: System installers work with electrical cables and electronic systems. This requires cabling skills, electrical design and troubleshooting skills and electrical safety skills.

  • Hardware skills: Installers work with various kinds of security hardware and understand how each system works. This means understanding basic operation, installation and troubleshooting of hardware.

  • Troubleshooting skills: Installers use problem-solving skills and industry technical skills to troubleshoot hardware systems. This includes understanding the basic operations of the hardware system and how to use tools to test functionality.

  • Situational awareness: Installers use situational awareness skills to understand an environment's security needs. This includes mapping the layout of a building or area and scanning the area for the best positions for CCTVs or sensors.

  • Interpersonal skills: Installers often work as part of a team and work closely with customers. This requires good communication and listening skills and also excellent customer service skills.

  • Determination: Installers typically undergo a strict training program to enter the field. This ensures safety and quality work from installers but may require a significant level of determination from the installer to move forward in their career path.

Work environment

Security system installers typically work both indoors and outdoors and spend much of their time on their feet. Some duties may require light office work, but normally installers operate standing, sitting, climbing ladders and even crawling into tight spaces. Installers also work with electrical cables and equipment in a safe environment, practising strict safety standards to minimise accidents. Most installers work full-time, but there are some part-time installer positions available.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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