How to Become a Security Guard
The security industry is a thriving part of the US economy, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 6% annual growth through 2026, which makes it a great career choice. Before you can learn how to become a security guard, however, you must first determine what kind of security work you find most interesting. Not all security roles are created equal – some demand more education and specialized training while others offer lower barriers to entry but less opportunity for advancement.
Basic Security Guard Requirements
- Education: High school diploma or GED for most entry-level security positions. However, more lucrative opportunities often demand an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
- Additional Training/Certification: 8-hour basic security course for lower-level security roles. Specialized security areas such as video surveillance or armed protection require further training and wide-ranging certifications.
- Licensure/Registration: Licensure requirements vary by location. Not all states offer licensing for security guards, but most states have a mandatory registration process for security guards.
- Background Check/Drug Test: A clean criminal background and drug test are mandatory for nearly every security guard role.
Security Guard Training
Proper security guard training starts with college coursework. Although the basic security guard requirements only call for a high school diploma or GED, an associate’s degree or undergraduate courses in criminal justice, security management, police science, or similar focus areas will significantly increase the opportunities available to you.
Specialized instruction is often done with private security contractors and consulting groups. This coursework regularly centers on a specific skill (such as conflict resolution) or scenario (such as an active shooter situation). Completing additional security guard training will increase your marketability, but becoming certified and/or licensed will open a lot more doors for your security career.
How to Get a Security Guard Card
As mentioned above, licensing for security guards varies by state. The best way to find out what steps you need to complete to be licensed or registered is to contact the administrative/governing body in your area. SecurityGuard-License.org offers a helpful state-by-state breakdown of security guard and security officer requirements.
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Regardless of a state’s individual licensing or registration requirements, most jurisdictions treat unarmed and armed security guards differently. There is usually a lower minimum age for unarmed (18 years old) vs. armed (21 years old). Furthermore, unarmed guards need less training and are subject to fewer regulations because they do not use deadly weapons in their day-to-day duties.
Even though each state does things a little differently, there are many common requirements. You may be able to obtain a security guard card or gain licensure as a security guard if you are:
- At least 18 years old (or 21 if seeking licensure as an armed security guard in certain states)
- A US citizen, legal resident alien, or have authority to work in the US
- A currently employed or recently retired law enforcement officer or military personnel
- A Graduate of a sanctioned security training program
- Able to supply a clean background check and fingerprints along with your submitted application
Interested in launching your security career? Search for security jobs on iHireSecurity and find wide-ranging openings including security officer, investigator, security consultant/coordinator, and more!
September 04, 2018
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