How to Become a Licensed Security Guard

When the going gets tough, crimes such as theft and burglary tend to rise as people resort to desperate means to get what they want. Therefore, jobs for security guards continue to be in demand. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of security guards is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Security guard jobs are available in a number of industries, from shopping malls, to hospitals, to business complexes and universities. So how does one obtain a security guard license?

  1. First, you have to apply for a license in whichever state you reside. Each state has specific licensing requirements, and they differ from state to state. Begin by finding your government department responsible for licensing security guards. They’ll be able to tell you the specific licensing requirements you must fulfill.
  2. Next, make sure you possess the necessary education requirements. Almost all states require a high school diploma or GED for security guard licensing, and some may require a higher degree depending on if you plan to operate your own security company.
  3. If you have the necessary education, you’ll then need to submit to both a thorough background check and drug screening through your states Department of Justice and the FBI. If you do have an offense on your record that has been dismissed, be prepared to disclose that information.
  4. If you successfully pass the background check and drug screening, you must then undergo training in emergency procedures, property rights, and the detention of suspects. Some states, like New York and California, require that security guards receive state-approved training. Other states allow training to be conducted through a third-party training facility, so you’ll have to look into the requirements for the state in which you’re being licensed.  Certain states also require separate permits and training to carry tear gas or a baton while on duty.

Once you have fulfilled the above requirements, complete your official licensing application through your state. You’ll also be issued a fingerprint card that needs to be taken to an agency-approved fingerprinting site to have your fingerprints registered.

As a security guard, you can expect to earn somewhere between $19,150 and $30,100*. This factor depends on a number of things, including which industry you are employed in (medical and surgical hospital guards earn around $29,020 compared to investigation and security services guards, who earn $22,170), and if you are licensed and certified to carry a weapon or not. Armed security guards earn more than unarmed security guards due to the training and responsibility that comes along with carrying or using a weapon. 

Or if you want to see the Requirements by State, click on the appropriate link below...

You can also learn more about what a security guard wears and the equipment he uses.

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