Private security guards work in a variety of roles and industries. Employees and contractors fulfilling this role may be tasked with protecting facilities, individuals, or property. Because this is such a sensitive and potentially dangerous occupation, many states have strict regulations and licensing requirements for anyone who is interested in filling these positions. Whether you are personally considering a career as a security guard or you are in a position to be hiring one or more guards for your organization, it pays to understand the basics of licensing and training in this field.
Although there are no strict federal guidelines, almost all states have several basic requirements that must be met for anyone who is filling a role as a security guard. In general, guards must be at least 18 years of age and must have completed high school or have an equivalent certificate. Armed guards may be required to be older, and most states require that guards who will be armed be at least 21 years old. States with licensing requirements will usually require background checks as well, and individuals with recent felony convictions may be barred from acting as guards.
State Licensing Programs
Licensing for security guards can be somewhat complex and varies significantly from state to state. Some states, such as Colorado, do not require any form of licensing. Many other states may not offer formal licensing, but they mandate training or other requirements that employers must meet when hiring for a guard position. California, for example, does not issue licenses, but the state requires that a mandatory minimum amount of training be completed. A background check must also be completed. Many other states that do not offer formal licenses or certifications have a similar regulatory structure.
States that do have licensing requirements will generally require that individuals working in this field be registered with a state licensing agency. One example of a state with these requirements is Connecticut. Applicants in Connecticut must complete a state-approved course in order to receive their certification and identification card. Once hired, their employer must register their employment with the state.
Since requirements are so varied, it is important to check the laws and regulations for your state. SecurityGuard-License.org maintains a comprehensive listing of state requirements that is a useful starting point for both employers and anyone looking to be hired as a guard.
Since specific training programs are often mandated by state licensing agencies, the type of training that guards receive is not uniform from state to state. Training courses will often cover topics ranging from first aid to appropriate use of force. In some cases, applicants with an educational background in criminal justice or security can have training program requirements waived or reduced. Several states will also provide waivers for applicants with a military background.