Private Military Contractors are sometimes colloquially referred to as “mercenaries,” but that term is not the appropriate fit for the actual duties they perform.
Private Military Contractors are employed in war zones and other risky areas to perform a wide variety of specialized jobs, including repair and maintenance of infrastructure and pipeline equipment. Other contractors provide armed security for truck convoys carrying supplies between military bases, serve as guards for corporate headquarters and government buildings and provide personal protection for politicians and other leading figures. Private military contractors are normally employed only in defensive roles and are only expected to engage in combat if attacked. They are not generally used for offensive military operations, so the term “mercenary” may not be strictly appropriate for what they do.
The most typical job for a Private Military Contractor is to serve as an armed guard of sorts in an environment where an attack by militants or criminals is a powerful possibility. For instance, a contractor may ride with a vehicle convoy in order to fend off any attempted ambush or kidnapping. A contractor may patrol a corporate facility at risk of a terrorist attack. Because of the fact that private military contractors work in war zones, the job is very different from a security detail or even a bodyguard job in civilian life. Most professional bodyguards outside of war zones will never be faced with an actual attack on their clients, but hundreds of private military contractors died in combat in the Iraq war.
Most of the professionals in the industry are military veterans. Some companies will make exceptions for candidates with an extensive law enforcement or intelligence agency background; depending on the type of work for which they are hiring. Still, the training and experience needed to survive the dangers of the job can usually only be gained through prior military experience. You must also possess a clean criminal record and you may need to obtain membership to an association for security professionals in order to hear about unadvertised positions.
Work as a Private Military Contractor appeals to people with a need for adventure and excitement and a desire to earn high pay for risky and demanding work. Still, it is not a suitable career for anyone with an unrealistic attitude or fantasies of being “Rambo” without going through the discipline and training of a soldier. Numerous private military companies have grown into large and well-funded organizations by hiring former soldiers when the U.S. Army reduced its force size after the first Iraq war. These companies are used to working with experienced professionals and they do not provide basic training.