How to become a security guard

How to Become a Security Guard: A Foolproof Step-by-Step Guide



Working at the security agency has become one of the dream jobs nowadays. Those who want to make other people feel safe and protect them at any moment often decide to seek a professional career in the private security industry, which tends to provide excellent opportunities for prosperity and long-term job commitment.

Many private security companies offer security guard career opportunities for those who meet all the position requirements. Each state has different criteria for becoming a security guard. So, if you want to join the “force,” you’ll need to check the requirements provided by your state and start the training as soon as possible.



In this article, we’ll go through the 10 essential steps to becoming a security guard and learn more about the requirements for doing this job in California.

How to Become a Security Guard in California?

A security guard is responsible for the people’s safety and protection from illegal activities such as theft or physical damage. That said, a candidate must have physical strength, quick decision-making skills, and strong observation powers that can help them react on time and prevent potential perils.



Here is an ultimate checklist of 10 requirements to become a security guard in California to help you prepare for the process the best you can.

1. California Security Guards Must Be at Least 18 Years Old

Before entering the process of becoming security guards, all candidates must be at least 18 years old. According to the law in the United States, those who want to work as armed security guards must be 21 years old, while other countries have different criteria.

For example, the Hong Kong laws allow you to apply for the security guard position at 17 years, while you have to be at least 19 to work in security in British Columbia, Canada.

how to be a security guard

2. California Security Guards Must Have Clean Record

All the candidates must pass a background check before continuing the process. The check includes a drug test and fingerprint scan for the unarmed position, while armed security might require additional examinations.

Background checks depend on the state where you live, but most of them require you to pass the verification process through the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). California citizens who want to work as security guards must undergo a background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ).


3. California Security Guards Must Have High School Diploma/GED

Although most companies require a high school diploma, some prioritize guards with a two or four-year degree in criminal justice or police science. Therefore, the more degrees and certificates you have, the higher the chance to get the job.

Even though there is no “security guard” degree, there are many stellar programs that may help you obtain degrees in specific fields online. For example:

  • Southern New Hampshire University: This accredited institution offers you programs to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
  • Purdue University Global: You should consider programs offered by this institution if you seek a career in law enforcement, homeland security, or other public safety fields.
  • Waldorf University: Programs provided by this university encompass the three primary aspects of criminal justice – law enforcement, courts, and corrections.
  • Columbia Southern University: Seize the opportunity to attend the criminal justice program online. These programs are excellent for both entry-level and professionals who seek a career in criminal justice administration.

4. Get Licensed by California BSIS (Bureau of Security and Investigative Services)

Becoming a security guard in California includes licensing by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). To get a California security guard card, you must complete a pre-licensing training, often called a “guard card class.” It lasts for eight hours, and you can complete it in one day.

The course consists of two sections – Powers to Arrest and Weapons for Mass Destruction (WMD), and it can be completed either online or on-demand.

Once you have completed the training, passed the written test, and gone through the necessary background check, you can submit your application for a guard card.

5. California Security Guards Must Complete Their Training

Once you’ve received your guard card, you must attend additional educational courses. The first part (16 hours) consists of mandatory classes, including Public Relations (Community & Customer), Observation and Documentation, Communication and its Significance, and Liability. The second part (16 hours) is mostly composed of electives.

The first part of the training should be completed within 30 days, while you have six months to finish the remaining 16 hours. Note that some companies may require on-the-job training, including instructions for newly-hired guards. Besides, many states require you to do 8 hours of yearly training to stay up-to-date with the procedures.

6. Complete Additional Courses (Armed Security)

A standard security guard card allows you to work in unarmed security, but you can always take additional courses to get the license for carrying a firearm. These courses come with higher costs, but you can also expect a higher salary in these fields. If you think it’s the right path for you, don’t hesitate to go for it.

security guard requirements

To get the license for carrying arms on the job, you’ll need 14 extra classes of training. One of the career opportunities you may seek with this license is an armored car guard. Your job would be to protect money and other valuable items during transit, picking them up from one business and moving them to another location. You’ll have to wear a bulletproof vest and carry a firearm since it’s about a dangerous job.


7. Choose a Sector Where You’d Like to Work

Once you meet all the requirements, it’s time to choose where you’d like to work. You have endless employment opportunities, from part-time to full-time commitments, and you should opt for one based on your personality and preferences. Some of the places where you can look for employment are:

  • Bank security: Your responsibility will be to protect people, staff, ATMs, and property.
  • School security: A school security guard should perform school access control, student ID verification, respond to fights between students, etc.
  • Construction site security: If you want to work as a construction site security guard, you’ll have to watch heavy equipment, tools, materials, prevent theft or physical damage, and more.
  • Corporate security: Your duties will be to protect a corporate environment, including office buildings.
  • Event security: Event security guards provide traffic control, parking lot security, evacuation planning, VIP escorts, etc.
  • Medical building security: Protect hospitals and healthcare facilities, including staff, property, parking lots, entrances, and other critical areas.
  • Parking lot security: Responsibilities of a parking lot security guard include mobile patrolling, fire watch, drug control, stopping and reporting trespassers, etc.
  • Hospitality security: Provide the guests and their valuable items from theft, vandalism, and any other kind of danger they could experience while staying at a hotel or motel.
  • Retail security: A well-trained retail security guard will prevent any attempt at shoplifting, robbery and reduce the common risk that retail businesses face every day.
  • Residential security: Your job is to secure property entrances and exits, take care of emergencies, respond to suspicious actions, assist with guests, visitors, etc.
  • Warehouse security: Provide protection services to warehouse owners and help them with alarm monitoring, truck inspections, equipment tracking, incident reporting, etc.


how to become a security guard in California

8. Be Responsible About Your Work

Since you’ll work quite a responsible job, you’ll have to take your duties seriously. To be 100% successful at work, you’ll have to observe people and property, making sure nothing goes wrong while on duty. Some of your critical work-related responsibilities include:

  • Monitor alarms and TV cameras
  • Control employee and visitor access and checking their credentials
  • Conduct regular security checks at the building entrance
  • Write daily or weekly reports
  • Stop wrongdoers
  • Interview witnesses.

9. Keep Improving Your Skills

Security guard education doesn’t stop once you get a job. In fact, you shouldn’t stop working on your skills and abilities, and give your best to become better at what you do. Have patience, be observant, communicative, and physically strong in order to be capable of preventing crime and acting on time. That way, you can significantly advance in your career and earn a position that comes with a higher salary.


10. Don’t Forget to Renew Your License

Depending on what type of license you have, you’ll have to renew it periodically. Some fields may only require you to pay a renewal fee, while other areas may require you to complete particular training once the license expires.

Be careful not to wait for too long to renew your license since you’ll need to apply for it again.

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