How Do I Earn a Security Guard License?

Security guards must be licensed. It may be necessary to earn more than one license; this will depend upon the state in which you will be working. Read on to learn more about the requirements for earning a security guard license. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Earning a Security Guard License

The licensure process for security guards typically varies by location. A security company or private patrol organization in your area can provide you with specific requirements and additional information regarding state and local licensure. After completing training and ensuring that you are qualified, you could be able to work as a licensed security guard.

Important Facts About Security Guards

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Similar Occupations Correctional officer, police officer, gaming service worker
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%
Median/Average Salary (2015) $24,470

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Requirements

Although some specific security guard licensure requirements vary between states, there are some general areas that are common to many states. For example, in order to become a licensed security guard, you must be 18 years of age or older, have American citizenship, pass a drug test and a background check and undergo training. To work as an armed guard, you'll need to complete additional licensure requirements.

Basic Security Guard Training

Training programs are available from community colleges, vocational schools and some private training companies. In these programs, you'll learn about the responsibilities of security guards, as well as the limitations of their power and rights. As a new guard, you may be required to complete preliminary courses before starting work, followed by additional courses while employed. You might expect to study:

  • Professional conduct and ethics
  • Observational skills
  • Investigative techniques
  • Report preparation
  • Emergency response
  • Property rights
  • Preventing crime
  • Directing traffic

Armed Security Guard License

Almost every state requires their licensed security guards to earn an additional license in order to carry weapons, particularly firearms. Yet another license will be required to carry a concealed weapon, and some states issue a license to carry a baton, nightstick, pepper spray or stun gun. To qualify for a license to carry a weapon, you'll likely be required to have both state residency and United States citizenship. You must also be free of alcohol or drug dependencies. The length of the required training is set by the state, and training courses will include lessons on the following topics:

  • Use and care of a weapon
  • Safe carrying and storage of a weapon
  • Conflict avoidance strategies
  • Legal issues related to weapon use

Special Security Guard Licenses

As a security guard, you may need to earn an additional license to work in facilities requiring security clearances, such as nuclear or defense facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that some states grant a special police officer certification, which will allow you to make limited arrests while on the job (

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