Most states require that security guards be licensed. Requirements vary widely but in most states, applicants must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and drug test, and complete classroom training in such subjects as property rights, emergency procedures, and detention of suspected criminals.
What kind of training will I need to become a security guard? Although there are no academic requirements for this field, a two-year associate's degree program or a one-to-two semester certificate program in a criminal justice-related area is helpful to aspiring security guards and surveillance officers. Surveillance officers receive training in a casino-like atmosphere using surveillance camera equipment. Armed guards receive formal training in areas such as weapons retention and laws covering the use of force. Guards employed by the federal government must have some experience in the occupation, pass a written examination, and pass firearms and first aid tests to be certified by the U.S. General Services Administration.
All states have requirements requiring training to obtain a license (guard card). For example, in New York the law requires that all security guards complete three training courses. Armed guards are required to complete two additional training courses. All courses must be conducted at approved training schools, by certified instructors.
The first required course, is an Eight Hour Pre-Assignment Training course. This is a general introductory course. Upon successful completion of this course the guard is issued a training certificate. This certificate must accompany the security guard's registration application when submitted to the Department of State. Once the application is submitted, the guard has 90 days to complete the second training course.
The second required course is the 16 Hour On-the-Job Training course (OJT). This training program should be relevant to the guard's duties, requirements of the work site, and the needs of the employer. Schools may conduct this training in an approved classroom setting or at an approved work site which is conducive to learning.
The third required training program is the Eight Hour Annual In-service course. This training must be completed each calendar year following completion of the 16 Hour OJT course. This program is designed to meet current training needs and refresh or update guards in changes in the security field. The guard must complete this course as a prerequisite for renewal of his or her guard registration.
Guards who carry firearms are required to complete a 47 Hour Firearms course before they can be licensed as an armed security guard. This course includes seven hours of classroom instruction in the Use of Force (NYS Penal Law Art. 35) followed by a written examination, and 40 hours on the firing range followed by weapons qualification. Upon successful completion of this course the guard is issued a training certificate. This certificate must accompany the security guard's registration application when submitted to the Department of State.
Armed guards must also complete an Annual Eight Hour Firearms Training course which includes three hours of classroom refresher on the Use of Force followed by a written examination, and five hours of weapons qualification which includes a proficiency examination. The guard must complete this course as a prerequisite for renewal of his or her armed guard registration.
In California the regulations are similar. For private patrol operators and security guards:
Effective July 1, 2004, all security guard applicants must complete a total of 40 hours of training instead of the 3 hours formerly required.
The 40-Hour Security Guard Training breaks down as follows: 1. Before submitting your security guard application, you must complete an eight (8) hour "Power to Arrest" training course and pass an examination. 2. Complete 16 hours of required security guard training within the first 30 days of the issuance of your security guard registration. 3. Complete an additional 16 hours of required security guard training within the first six (6) months of the issuance of the security guard registration.
Effective January 1, 2005, all registered security guards must complete an 8-hour continuing education requirement every year. The continuing education requirement can be acquired through your employer or at a training facility. This training will consist of review or practice of security officer skills. After completing the continuing education requirement, your employer or the training facility must provide you with a Certificate of Completion.