How to Become a Security Officer in California

Research the path to becoming a security officer in California. Familiarize yourself with the training and licensing requirements you'll need to meet as well as the median salary for security officers across the state. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Security officers monitor, patrol, and protect premises and individuals against potential thefts, violence, and other infraction of laws, with some carrying weapons such as guns or batons. The nature of the work of security officers largely depends on the industry in which they are employed. Check out the following table for more details about security officers in California.

Common Education High school diploma or equivalent
Key Skills Public safety and security, inductive reasoning, monitoring, selective attention, and problem sensitivity
Training Required State-mandated training
Licensure/Certification State license required; optional certification
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10.3%*
Median Annual Salary (2019) $30,612*

Source: *Employment Development Department of California

What Are the Educational Requirements for Becoming a Security Officer in California?

Since security officers must be able to read, write, and follow written and spoken instructions, most employers require their guards to complete high school education or equivalent. Some positions require experienced security officers, in which case candidates with adequate experience and possessing a community college degree involving coursework related to law enforcement may be preferred.

What are the Training Requirements in California?

Security officers should complete at least 40 hours of training. The training can be provided by a certified training facility or a private patrol officer. Mandatory courses include powers to arrest, terrorism awareness and weapons of mass destruction, public relations, observation and documentation, communication, and legal aspects and liability. The state requires security officers to complete at least 8 hours of training prior to assignment, another 16 hours within 30 days of assignment, and the remaining 16 hours within 6 months.

Armed security officers are required to additionally train for 14 hours divided between classroom instruction and range practice. The training must be provided by a Bureau-certified facility or instructor. Coursework covers moral and legal issues, weapon handling, and emergency procedures.

Do I Need To Be Licensed or Certified?

Armed in-house and uniformed contract security officers are required to possess a security guard registration card and be registered with the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. The essential qualification to obtain a guard registration card include being 18 years or older, passing a fingerprint and background check, and passing an open-book test on the exercise of the power of arrest. Armed security officers, in addition to guard registration card, must also hold baton and firearm permit. The essential qualifications to procure a baton/firearm permit include being 18 years or older, passing a fingerprint and background check, and completing state-mandated baton/firearm training from Bureau certified facility.

Certifications are optional. These courses are provided by various institutions depending on the educational and work experience of the security officers.

How Do I Apply for License and How Long Is My License Valid?

The security guard registration card is issued by the California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services. Security officers can apply for the security guard registration card after completing the initial eight hours of training. Applicants are required to pay application fees and can apply both online or by mail. Applications generally take 4-6 weeks to be processed depending on the time taken to conduct background checks.

The security guard registration card, and baton and firearm permits are valid for 2 years. The card and permits have to be renewed every 2 years. Security officers are also required to complete 8 hours of annual training provided by an independent training entity or the employer as a part of continuing education.

How Much Do Security Officers in California Earn?

According to the Employment Development Department (EDD) of California, as of 2019, security officers in California earned a median annual income of $30,612. Higher paying job positions might be found in industries requiring a high level of security such as nuclear power plants or weapon installations. Projected job growth for security officers in the state was 10.3%, according to the EDD data for 2016 to 2026.

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