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What Training Is Needed for Becoming a Security Guard?

The training you need to become a security guard will vary according to your employer's policies and what you are guarding. Read on to learn more about training and skill requirements for becoming a security guard, by job title.

Security Guard Overview

Security guards are charged with protecting both people and goods. Job duties will vary depending on position and training, and there are several certifications available for guards who seek more responsibility.

Important Facts About Security Guards

Required Education High School Diploma or GED Equivalent
Median Salary (2018) $28,490 growth
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth
Similar Occupations Correctional Officers, Detective, Private Investigator

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Unarmed Security

For unarmed security guards, most security companies do not require any formal education beyond a high school diploma or GED. The length of training required for working as an unarmed security guard depends on your company policy, state laws, and the facility in which you work. The American Society for Industrial Security International (ASIS, www.asisonline.org) recommends that companies provide a minimum of 48 hours of course instruction to new security guards. You may also be required to shadow a current security guard for a period before you begin working at a new location in order to learn the area and the procedures for that site.

Armed Security

If your employer requires you to be armed, your training may be longer and will likely include a separate licensing exam to ensure you understand how to operate firearms safely. You may learn how to make arrests and how to safely detain a criminal. For high-security locations, such as ports or power plants, your training period might last for several months; security procedures at these locations will likely be complicated and require a sharp eye for detail. Many states also require you to undergo periodic refresher courses or continuing education every year in order to keep your skills up-to-date.

Skills Required

As a security guard, you would be trained to protect locations against theft, fire, trespassing, vandalism, and other crimes. In the event of a security incident, you'd need to exercise good communication skills while interviewing witnesses, writing reports, and testifying in court. You may patrol an area on foot or in a vehicle to look for suspicious activity. Some locations may have you remain stationary at a podium or in a booth to inspect packages and visitors' credentials. You could provide protective services at several locations, including office buildings, stores, transportation facilities, and apartment buildings or communities.

Certification and Licensing Information

Most states require that you pass a state licensing exam in order to prove your comprehension of emergency procedures, public safety, security procedures and your legal rights as a security service professional. Licensing requirements vary by state, and you may wish to contact your state board of licensing or local police bureau to ascertain your eligibility. Most states require a background check, fingerprinting, and drug testing in addition to a licensing exam.

You might wish to earn voluntary professional certification through ASIS International. ASIS offers the Certified Protection Professional credential. To be eligible for this certification, you must complete a combination of education and professional experience, including at least three years of managerial experience in a security company.