Where Can I Earn a Security Guard Certification?

Most security guards earn licensure, rather than certification, from their state. Licensing requirements vary by state and usually include mandatory training hours and additional regulations for guards carrying weapons. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Security Guard Basic Requirements

Security guards must often undergo a short period of formal training before licensure, as well as on-the-job training; programs are typically offered through a professional organization or community college. Security guards are regulated by state governments, and most states require some type of licensure. You should contact your state board for specific requirements, but generally, you must be older than 18, possess a valid driver's license and pass a background check before seeking employment.

Important Facts About This Career

Job Outlook (2012-2022) 12%
Median Salary (2014) $24,410
Similar Occupations Gaming surveillance officer, law enforcement officer, corrections officer, private investigator
Key Skills Observation skills, patience, decision-making skills, physical strength

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the minimum educational requirement for enrolling in a security guard program is a high school diploma (www.bls.gov). Skills and knowledge are typically acquired through training programs and on-the-job training. Although a bachelor's degree is not necessary for employment, some employers may prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees in a relevant field, such as criminal justice or police science, especially for supervisory positions.

Training Guidelines

Some professional organizations provide voluntary training guidelines to improve and standardize the quality of security guard training. A minimum of 48 hours of training is recommended within the guards' first 100 days of service. The following topics are typically covered in training courses and subsequent testing:

  • Report writing
  • Crime prevention
  • Emergency response
  • Working with law enforcement
  • Court testimony
  • Basic first aid
  • Observation and patrol techniques
  • Ethics and legal issues
  • Disaster response


Requirements vary by state, but licensure may be granted upon completion of the required number of classroom and on-the-job training hours. Applicants for licensure usually must pass a background test and drug test. Security guards carrying firearms are subjected to additional hours of training. The training covers essential topics, such as laws regarding the use of force and weapons retention. Many states require licensed security guards to complete continuing education classes to keep abreast of current trends and technologies.

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