What Are the Requirements for Becoming an Armed Security Officer?

Armed security officers protect private property and ensure the safety of staff, customers, personnel and the public. Armed security officers, also called armed security guards, may work for private companies, armored car services, retail shops or security firms. To understand what's needed to pursue this profession, read on for information on education, training and licensure requirements. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Armed Security Officer Requirements

According to ASIS International, an international security professional organization, to apply for an entry-level position in the security field, such as an armed security officer, you must be 18 and have a high school diploma and no criminal record. Some employers may require a degree in criminal justice or police science.

Universities and colleges offer associate's, bachelor's and graduate programs in security. Programs may include co-ops or internships, which help you gain experience and make contacts.

Important Facts About Armed Security Officers

Median Salary (2014) $24,410 (for security guards)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 12% growth
Work Environment Office buildings, stores, public settings
Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent
Similar Occupations Correctional officers, police officers, detectives, private detectives, investigators

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Through training programs offered by community colleges, private organizations or individual employers, you can learn basic security skills. The foundational skills taught in these programs may include the following:

  • Operating surveillance equipment
  • Using non-lethal weapons (batons, stun guns, chemical sprays)
  • Responding to emergency situations
  • Writing reports

While in training, you may study areas like weapons laws, law enforcement and crime prevention. Additionally, you may go through security simulations to learn to respond to security breaches and vandalism, handle crowd control and administer personnel screening.

After completing basic security officer training, you'll take firearm training, which generally consists of learning how to shoot a firearm at a firing range. You'll also receive training in gun laws and safety measures.

Licensing and Certification

Most states require armed security guards to obtain licensure. The process can begin after completing security guard training. You must pass a background check and a drug test. You'll also need to take classroom training in topics such as property rights and criminal detention. Armed security guards are not allowed to arrest a suspect unless they obtain special police officer certification. In some cases, you might be required to be certified in emergency response and first aid as well.

In addition to being licensed as a security guard, a license to carry a firearm is required. Armed security guards may be licensed to carry concealed or exposed weapons, depending on the state. You may need to have your own firearm and permit to take gun training and licensing courses. Because gun laws vary between states, training eligibility and prerequisites may differ, so please check with your appropriate state department. Some states require armed security guards to obtain a baton, chemical spray or stun gun permit or certification.

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