Bodyguards are often mistaken as just big slabs of dumb meat in suits who follow around celebrities. Sure, those are the most visible type of bodyguard. But there are actually many more discreet close protection professionals that the general public will hardly ever see because they work hard at being mostly invisible.
While celebrities are commonly seen out in public surrounded by obvious bodyguards, Executive Protection (EP) agents do most of their work behind the scenes and undetected by most people. Let’s look at the difference between celebrity bodyguards and EP bodyguards.
With celebrity close protection, bodyguard escorts commonly maintain high visibility on purpose as a conspicuous show of force. This is meant to intimidate and discourage overly aggressive press and fans from getting too close. Megastar musicians or Hollywood celebrities will commonly be surrounded by multiple agents in a security detail, especially at high-profile public events. These bodyguards are there to keep the crowd from pressing in too close and to prevent against the constant threat of a deranged stalker or creep.
While these agents are absolutely professionals, it should be noted that these more obvious escort bodyguards aren’t necessarily the type of hardcore military veterans or former law enforcement agents you will find in elite EP circles.
EPs are responsible for protecting prominent corporate executives and high-level government officials. These types of bodyguards are usually working within a multifunctional unit where close protection escort is only a small part of the job. Executive Protection is an entirely different ball game from the escort work you see with celebrities on the red carpet.
Whereas celebrity protection is intentionally high visibility, EP demands subtlety and continuous unglamorous work behind the scenes. This including ongoing threat analyses, physical and electronic security reviews, countersurveillance, route planning, background checking of guests, etc. Rather than simply being a show of force for the latest celebrity loudmouth, EPs are responsible for protecting heads of state, CEOs of large multinational corporations, and various other high value individuals.
Other than your garden variety weirdo or crank, most celebrity clients won’t have as many hardcore enemies or potential threats as a government official or controversial corporate executive. On an EP detail, you are responsible for protecting clients from foreign agents, corporate espionage, terrorist organizations and political adversaries–all of whom have vastly more resources than a typical celebrity stalker.
Don’t get the wrong idea here…there are many bodyguards in the security industry who routinely work for both types of clients. Some agencies specialize more in one type of client than the other (Los Angeles of course has quite a few celebrity-oriented firms, while east coast and southern agencies skew toward government and corporate work), but ultimately you will be expected to handle all types of clients if you want to build a career as a professional bodyguard.