How Can I Earn a Private Security Certificate?

If you are interested in working as a security guard, you might pursue a certificate in private security. By participating in such a program, you can learn the criminal justice and law enforcement strategies necessary to protect individuals and businesses. Read on to learn about the requirements for earning a private security certificate. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Private Security Certificate Overview

Private security involves the protection of people, property and other investments of privately owned businesses and industries. A certificate program in private security will train you to maintain order on your employer's property, prevent illegal activities and properly report incidents to higher authorities, if necessary. Although you don't need formal education to work in private security, a certificate program allows you to prove expertise in this field. Private security certificate programs are available both on campus and online.

Important Facts About This Occupation

On-the-job Training Some employers provide on-the-job training
Similar Occupations Claims adjuster and investigator; law enforcement officer; gaming surveillance officer; correctional officer
Key Skills Decision-making; communication; resourcefulness; patience; observational skills, physical strength
Work Environment Often have contact with public; may patrol on foot or man a security location; potential for hazardous situations or altercations; generally work at office buildings, stores, public buildings

Prerequisite Requirements

You can enter a private security certificate program with a high school diploma or GED. Certain schools may require you to take a placement test in mathematics and English. You must be at least 18 years old in order to participate in firearms training, which is required by some certificate programs. Additionally, colleges may only accept you if you're free of any felonies, domestic violence convictions and pending criminal charges.

Program Coursework

You may be able to complete a private security certificate program with one academic year or less of full-time study, and many program curricula are structured to be completed in a single semester. Some colleges offer basic and advanced certificates. Required courses come primarily from criminal justice and law enforcement, though some certificate programs also feature courses in English, sociology, psychology and political science. Some schools require a law-enforcement department internship. Through the required coursework, you will encounter topics such as:

  • Security systems and operations
  • Criminal investigations techniques
  • Interrogation skills
  • Fingerprinting and fingerprint lifting
  • Crime scene sketching
  • Homeland security and terrorism
  • Loss control and prevention
  • Private security agency regulations
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Industrial security safety practices

Career Options and Employment Information

Career options in criminal justice and private protection are available to you with a private security certificate. Professional associations such as the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) provide certification options that can help advance your career and increase your attractiveness to employers. A private security certificate can qualify you for careers such as:

  • Security guard
  • Detective
  • Security officer
  • Surveillance agent

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed security guards was expected to grow 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about average. Similarly, job openings for private detectives and investigators were projected to increase 11% during the same period. As of 2014, security guards earned a median salary of $24,410, while the median annual wage among private detectives and investigators was $44,570, per the BLS.

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