The Real Poop
The mall is a wonderland. From the touchscreen ads and information boards to the friendly faces at the Apple Store to the fart machines and less-friendly faces of Spencer's Gifts, there's no better place to do a massive amount of shopping in a short amount of time, within as little personal space as humanly possible.
But all isn't well in these apparent utopia; there are those who'd destroy the mecca of merchandise if they could. There are shoplifters lurking around every kiosk, hucksters trying to lift a dollar from hardworking shoppers—and loiterers everywhere. Who'll protect our malls from these vandals and schemers? Captain America?
Good guess, but no. We're talking about the noble mall cop.
Mall cops—or mall security guards if you want to sound less like a Kevin James movie—hold huge amounts of responsibility in their black utility belts. They assure that dozens or even hundreds of individual businesses are able to operate safely under the same roof. These Payless protectors patrol the premises, assuring that every customer is having a safe, non-shoplift-y time during their shopping experience.
And speaking of payless, with an average yearly salary of $25,000 in hourly wages, you're going to have to work quite a bit more to afford all the shopping you're going to want to do (source).
Malls are huge, and it's a huge job. Add to this the fact that you double as a mall ambassador of sorts—giving directions to the lost, helping people find the restroom, assisting the elderly and disabled, and even locating parents of lost children (who, nine times out of ten, are just mixed in with clothes in a department story display)—and it becomes clear that you'll also be working hard for that low salary.
It's not exactly the most appealing idea, we know.
The pop culture stereotype of the security guard (yes, there's a pop culture stereotype for such things), roaming the mall's halls atop a rolling Segway or in a golf cart, may make this look like a mobile twenty-first century job, but you'll actually be doing most of your rounds on foot.
Trust us, your dogs will be barking by the end of the shift. At least you'll know where to go to get a good pair of shoes—and you'll have the mall employee discount to boot.
You should realize that the main purpose of any mall cop is to ensure the mall doesn't lose money due to theft. A fancy name for mall cop is "Loss Prevention Agent," which really only highlights one aspect of the gig—catching shoplifters. Your responsibilities are much greater than just stopping some petty crime. Major shopping centers have plenty of problems walk through their doors, and you'll be expected to be able to deal with all of them.
Most mall security guard positions will require you to have a minimum of a high school diploma. You'll also need good communication and people skills. Mall cops are required to work with crowds, mediate conflicts, and act as liaisons between businesses and the public.
To do this effectively, you'll need to be able to make yourself the voice of reason in a calm and authoritative manner. It's important that people listen to mall security—otherwise already bad situations can escalate.
You may even need to get physical in certain situations. However, if your first instinct is to throw somebody to the floor, we've got other careers that might fit you better.
You'll also need to think quickly on your feet. Most security guards need to patrol the entire building, including the parking lot outside, and they often walk miles each day.
Because of all this walking—and also because you'll have to occasionally run down a shoplifter—mall cops need to be in decent physical shape. If you can't jog a couple laps around the shopping plaza, how will you catch a thief running at full speed to get away? Get some physical training in before applying.
That's just the bare minimum for an unarmed security guard position. To increase your responsibilities—not to mention your income—there are some community college or certification courses you could take. Public speaking or psychology will help you in everyday person-to-person interaction.
You could also take some criminal justice courses, learn a martial art, or even go through an agency training program. Promotions in the mall cop business all depend on experience, training, and certifications—not much different from becoming a secret agent, really (source).