Gate Guarding: Work Camping Jobs For Full-time RVers
Are you familiar with Gate Guarding? This article will provide valuable information, especially if interested in finding work camping jobs for full-time RVers.
Work camping is a term describing how RVers live full-time and earn an income working as gate guards, campground hosts, sugar beet harvest, or even Amazon. Many work camping positions are seasonal which allows RVers to feed their wanderlust and make money.
While there are many different work camping jobs for full-time RVers, Robb and I decided to give gate guarding our attention. Through our personal experience and detailed research, we will give you all you need to know about RV Gate Guarding.
What is RV Gate Guarding
RV Gate Guarding is a term used for RVers who provide entrance security at a variety of different sites. These sites may include oil wells, construction sites, ranches, solar farms, and even exotic animal farms.
The main function of a gate guard is to record and monitor the gate traffic at the designated location.
Types of Gate Guarding
There are generally two types of gate guards: teams and solo. Both are great jobs for full-time RVers who are looking for a unique work camping opportunity.
2-person RV Team: This assignment is a two-person team who lives together in their self-contained RV. These locations require one of the 2 gate guards to be awake and responsible for the gate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1-person: The security company is looking for a single person for a 12-hour shift. In this situation normally, the RVer lives off-site boondocking or at a campground at their own expense. This type of assignment works well for single solo RVers or couples that don’t mind being placed at separate sites. Normally, these gate guards are given 1 day off as well as an increased pay incentive.
What to expect as an RV Gate Guard
Each assignment and location is different with its individual nuances. As a gate guard, you may be required to do the following:
- Log vehicles and driver names entering and exiting the location.
- Open and close the site gate once a day or every time a vehicle passes.
- Monitor and direct traffic as necessary and provide directions to various site locations.
- Report any safety issues or hazards you observe.
- Report any suspicious activity.
- Stay alert and present during your entire shift.
- Dress in the required uniform which sometimes is fire-resistant clothing, a hard hat, and a reflective vest.
How much does RV Gate Guarding Pay
The daily pay for an RV Gate Guard can range from $175 – $400 per day depending on the assignment requirements and location. The average pay is $200 for an onsite 24/7 RV Gate Guard team/couple or a solo 12-hour gate guard.
Each gate guard company has a different pay structure. Some pay weekly and others are bi-weekly.
Normally, RV gate guards are independent contractors and not company employees.
When accepting a position it is important to understand that payroll taxes are not withheld and that you will not be accruing traditional employee benefits. You will receive a 1099, and no state, federal, Social Security, or Medicare taxes are withheld. You are responsible to pay those state and federal taxes as required by law.
Ready to take the next step?
How to Become a Gate Guard?
The majority of gate guard jobs are near energy company operations. The Permian Basin in West Texas has many opportunities as does south Texas. New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and West Virginia also have companies hiring gate guards.
To become a gate guard, research and locate gate guard companies in an area you are interested in working or relocating.
Apply online or as otherwise directed.
Once the application has been accepted, the guard company will inform you of the next steps. Since some states require guards to be licensed, you may need to take a continuing education course to obtain your certificate or credentials.
Most guard companies require a background check including fingerprints and drug tests. Most times, these tests are all done at your expense.
You may also need special clothing, lighting, driveway alarms, and other accessories. It depends on the company as to what they will provide and what you will be required to supply.
The Daily Life of an RV Gate Guard
Due to shift work, the type and phase of the project, each gate has a specific traffic flow. Some gates will be super slow while other gates may be very busy.
As the project progresses traffic flow will change, sometimes on a daily basis. One day there will be hundreds of trucks coming and going and on others, there may only be 10 or 20 workers at shift changes.
Logging the traffic flow and watching the hours go by on a slow gate, can be boring to some. For others, the quiet time may provide ample opportunity to perfect a craft, binge their favorite series or work on a side gig.
In between traffic you can watch tv, read or work on your personal business, as long as it doesn’t interfere with traffic flow. Your first obligation is to do your job as a gate guard.
For those that get bored easily, fracking sites may be more suitable as they are high-traffic gates.
Some teams travel with the crew and move site to site around every three weeks. Other teams stay in the same location for months at a time.
As an independent contractor, the choice is yours.
You have the opportunity to select from available assignments that meet your criteria. Like other work camping jobs, gate guarding is a temporary assignment. You aren’t locked into a gate forever.
Communication with your gate guard company is imperative when it comes to deciding how long you are going to stay at the gate or when you need a break.
Aside from the traffic, if you are fortunate enough, you will experience some beautiful sunrises and sunsets as well as the moon and stars. There is little to no ambient light, so the skies are particularly beautiful.
Every RV team is different and you will have to determine and establish a routine that works for you. If one person is a night owl while the other prefers the daytime, your shift transition will be fairly easy. Those that have a very structured sleep schedule, may find some difficulty adjusting to this way of RV living.
We have found that getting a power nap in, helps lift our mood and provides an energy boost for the long shift.
Unless both team members need 12 hours of sleep, then there is plenty of time to spend together playing cards, watching tv, and enjoying a home-cooked meal.
The greatest advantage to gate guarding is flexibility. You get to determine and adjust your schedule to meet your needs as long as you cover your gate responsibilities.
Gate Guarding: Pros and Cons
Defining the pros and cons of gate guarding is a biased opinion. For some, just the thought of sitting in an oil field without a pool or potluck dinner event is enough to say “what an awful job”. For others, the remote locations, lack of social stimulation, and the sounds of coyotes in the distance is a quick response of, ‘‘when do I start?’’.
Robb and I find ourselves in between this spectrum. We will discuss the pros and cons with our opinion and from our experience as gate guards and the research we have done.
Pros of Gate Guarding
Remote Location: For us, a remote location was perfect. Being away from the lights and hustle and bustle of a city feels free in a way. There is nothing to see or do, only be. In fact, we were a 3-hour round-trip drive to the nearest Walmart.
Not that Robb and I are unsocial, we prefer being alone in remote locations rather than in a campground. Even boondocking in the southwest, we’ve had neighbors. Being alone with our thoughts for an extended period of time is part of what we desired for our RV Lifestyle.
Quiet: The still quiet of any location is healing. Although our post is right off the main road, vehicles rarely pass. In other words, there is no road noise except the entering and exiting gate traffic. There was barely any road noise and the drilling site was about a mile away from our post.
Keep in mind this is not always typical. You do have the drone of the constant generator running and in some locations, guards are very close to the site with almost constant traffic which can be very loud.
Get paid: Although the pay is not overly generous, we do get paid. The actual time we spend “working” is minimal. It takes less than a minute to log a vehicle in or out. Most times it is just seconds.
Basically speaking, keeping accurate traffic logs are all we do as gate guards. That’s it. While one of us always has to be “on duty” , we are free to watch tv, read, or work our online business.
Sometimes, I am amazed that I am getting paid to sit still and watch the sky. When was the last time that you were paid for simply being?
Full-hookups: The security company provides fresh water, power, waste removal, trash pick up, and mail delivery, all within the confines of our RV spot. It’s like boondocking with full hookups and no hassle to find fuel for the generator, freshwater or dump our tanks.
Spend more time outside: Part of the appeal to living the RV Lifestyle is being outside more and communing with nature.
Before gate guarding, we spent most of our day inside working in front of our computer scenes. It was much easier to go from the couch to the office than dealing with the outside elements and a computer or notebook.
Now, much of our day is spent outside, enjoying the sunshine and scenery.
Sunrise and Sunset: With our RV facing south all we had to do was look left or right to see a spectacular sunrise and an even more magical sunset.
About an hour before sunrise, we could see the moon disappear over the western horizon. You could look east and see the colors of the morning forming slowly as the sun eased up with an impressive array of colors.
There is nothing quite like a western sunset. The main event starts as the sun drops to the horizon before totally disappearing. Then the magic happens. The moment the sky is backlit turning colors of reds, pinks, purples, blues, and oranges.
Sitting Still: For road warriors and constant travelers like us, the time we spent gate-guarding gave us an opportunity to sit still. Rather than sightseeing, running around, and eating out, we spent time sitting, creating, and catching up on some overdue projects and getting paid.
Save Money: Although RV Gate Guarding is not an extremely high-paying job, you can save money by taking this type of position.
As a team, your RV site utilities are included and there is no cost to you. Since you are on a 24-hour shift, 7 days a week, your entertainment budget and travel expenses should decrease.
As a solo on a gate even with the cost of an RV site it is still easy to bank some cash. Aside from a few supplies, groceries, and your monthly expenses, you won’t be spending much at all.
Cons of Gate Guarding:
Weather: The weather can be unpredictable and severe at times. The looming thoughts of tornados, high winds, excessive heat, and rain are enough to cause discomfort. Severe weather is always a concern for RVers.
Since you spend most of the shift outside, you should prepare yourself for all weather types and extremes. It is not unusual to experience a 30-degree temperature fluctuation in a 24-hour period.
Dust and dirt: Yes, there is a lot of it! The wind constantly blows dust and dirt. There is no way around it. Rather than dragging the outside dirt into the RV, we try to spend most of our day outside under a canopy.
Late at night or early in the morning we use our car for shelter. It makes it faster and easier to get out and record the vehicle traffic rather than trying to stay in the RV.
Traffic Schedule: Depending on the assigned gate, vehicle traffic comes and goes 24 hours a day. We never really know when or how long a person will be on-site.
Need-to-know basis: There is little communication between the security company, the gate guard, and the company man (person in charge of the site). For whatever reason, the industry works on very short notice and indefinite schedule.
Sometimes it is due to production difficulties but it seems to have just become the industry standard. The companies are reluctant to give you an exact start date, or projections because this industry is so fluid.
Since scheduling is unpredictable most security companies have a yard for those waiting on a gate to stage until an assignment is contracted.
These yards are normally full hookup sites, some also have a bathhouse and laundry. There is no charge from the security company while you are waiting which helps to alleviate some of the unknown and potential expenses while you are in queue for your assignment.
Likewise, while working at a gate, you may not have an exact day that your assignment is finished.
Finally, there may be extended wait times between gate-guarding jobs, causing budgeting challenges.
Pay: There is no secret that the rate of pay is minimal A gate that pays $200 a day, equals roughly $8 per hour.
For some, reconciling the hours required and the pay may be difficult. However, the actual working time is minimal compared to the time you are committed to the gate.
Lack of Sleep: For us, the lack of sleep was the most difficult aspect of gate guarding. Like many RV couples, we are accustomed to routine sleep patterns and sleeping together.
RV gate guard teams must adjust to a 24-hour work day and solos to a 12-hour day plus a long commute sometimes.
Developing a new routine: Establishing a new routine for meals, quality time, binging our favorite shows, sleeping, and working creates its own challenge.
My best time for creativity and taking care of business is early morning to mid-afternoon. I rarely make it past 10 pm at night and wake somewhere between 4 and 5 am. Normally I would treat myself to a leisurely morning journaling, reading, and meditating, before jumping into my workday around 730am.
Now, I wake up, grab a coffee and relieve Robb from his post by 5 am. He then gets to sleep until noonish, when he joins me for lunch, conversation, and plans for the day. My creative self is normally fried by this time of day.
Robb experiences a similar situation. His creative time comes late morning or even later in the evening. Unfortunately, the midnight shift is not so conducive to his highest production and flow.
However, we did manage to work within the parameters of the gate schedule and learn to be more efficient in our personal business and endeavors as well.
Developing a new routine is possible and sustainable for the time we commit to gate guarding. It just takes some planning and flexibility.
Boredom: Some would say that a gate guard job is super boring. Others would say that their gate guarding job provided a perfect balance of working and relaxing.
Avid outdoor enthusiasts might find the daily schedule limits their adventure time. It may be difficult or at least challenging to fit in those hikes or kayaking times, especially as a couple.
Keeping in mind someone has to watch the gate, you won’t have the opportunity to take a sunrise hike or even a leisurely walk together away from your post.
If you are a person who requires constant activity be sure to inform the security company so they can try to place you at a busy gate.
Danger: RV Gate guarding in itself is not a dangerous job. However, there are safety considerations to take before committing to the position.
You may be on a fast-moving site with a lot of traffic, vehicle interaction, heavy equipment and machinery. Staying alert and aware at all times is imperative.
Some sites and operations do have the potential for danger because of chemicals and possible explosions. Accidents, although infrequent can be a concern. All sites have their individual safety protocols. You will be instructed on what to do in case of an emergency.
Depending on the location, wildlife, including coyotes, snakes, spiders, and insects can cause reason for concern. However, as an RVer, you are already aware of these factors and know how to prevent unnecessary injury.
Some locations are close to the border and guards report incidents with illegal border crossings. Although these instances are unlikely to happen, it is not your job to confront or detain trespassers. You are only responsible to report to your supervisor and the local authorities or possibly Border Control.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Gate Guard job?
By now you realize there is a lot to consider in taking a gate guard position as with any work camping job. These are a few common characteristics and personality profiles that complement a gate guarding position.
Flexible, Adaptable, Good Rapport
Good candidates for this position are couples who are flexible as well as adaptable and know they can work together in noisy challenging conditions for an extended period of time. Solo guards must be able to deal with consecutive 12-hour shifts which can be lonely and isolating.
You have to be ok with not knowing or having a specific schedule. Limiting interactions with the “company man”, workers, and even your security company is appreciated especially when wondering about the progress of the job or when the job will finish.
Flexibility is a requirement for sure as weather conditions, deadlines, and assignments can quickly change. Areas prone to severe weather such as flooding or tornados may invoke a quick evacuation protocol.
For our first assignment, we received a call at 8:30 requesting us to be at the gate by noon. We arrived around 11 am, and totally unprepared for the 98-degree weather we were about to experience. The previous day we had only reached the mid-70s.
Because of the winds, we could not deploy the RV awning and we had no canopy. There wasn’t much we could do except sweat it out and deal with it until we were settled. Robb then embarked on a 3-hour round-trip excursion to Walmart to buy a canopy.
Physical Condition and Stamina
Your physical condition should be considered when thinking about a gate guard position. Being able to perform in a quick, efficient, and timely manner is imperative.
A gate guard must be able to approach the incoming and outgoing vehicles to obtain information such as name, company, tag number, rig photo, and any other information requested by the client.
Although recording and reporting gate activity is not strenuous, you will find yourself getting up and down frequently to log the vehicle activity.
The terrain can be uneven, rocky, muddy, or a combination. The weather can be extreme and rapidly changing throughout the day and if you are in Texas surely there is wind almost all the time.
Little or no reaction to environmental stressors
For those prone to allergies, or discomfort from wind and dust, RV gate guarding could be very challenging. You also have to be able to manage and adapt your sleep schedule. However, if the elements and extreme temperatures don’t bother you, then you might be a good fit!
If you are self-motivated, have hobbies, or a remote job, and enjoy the solitude of remote living, gate guarding can be a rewarding lifestyle. There are many gate guards that have been in the industry for years.
Gate Guard is a Good Job for Full-time RVers
As long as there are companies seeking two-person teams there will continue to be a demand for RVers to fill the positions. Gate guarding jobs can be a great way to supplement your income and even fund your future travels.
RV gate guarding provides a unique opportunity for those wanting to slow down or have some dedicated time to work on personal projects or hobbies and still have an income.
Aspiring entrepreneurs, content creators, or anyone who needs some extra time to develop and build find gate guarding a fantastic job for RVers. Having supplemental income and dedicated time is quite helpful.
In our experience, there were PLENTY of lulls in traffic that we were able to use to our advantage.
RV gate guard assignments are temporary and they are an independent contractor position, not a job, so you control the length of time you want to commit.
While some RVers desire a long-term commitment, others prefer a 2 or 3-month position. For full-time RVers, gate guarding can give you a break from road life and a way to enjoy some downtime, while saving money and preparing for the next leg of the journey.
RV Gate Guarding: Conclusion
For us, RV gate guarding provided us with an income that allowed us extra time to dedicate to some long-overdue projects as well as attend online workshops and a few industry-specific classes.
Since we weren’t going out to restaurants, we saved money and even lost a few of those extra pounds.
Gate guarding also allowed us some time to sit and watch the day go by without needing to explore. Sometimes it’s good to have that perfect time with nothing going on!
Was gate guarding optimal for our lifestyle? No. Was it doable and did it meet our intent and expectations? Yes!
For those of you researching gate guarding, we hope that we have brought you a comprehensive overview.
While there is plenty of work for RVers, there aren’t many full-time RVing jobs that provide an opportunity to work on your personal projects while getting paid. Work camping jobs can provide RVers with a good income while living in their RV.
Have you tried Gate Guarding? We’d love to hear about your experience.
Travel Safe and Adventure Often!