Steps to Becoming a Security Officer

Security officers play a vital role in our daily lives whether we like to think so or not. They’re present at large special events, shopping centers, hospitals, major gathering places, banks, hospitality centers, and so forth. Security officers are the ever-so-present eyes, ears and boots on the ground and have the ability to proactively deter crimes as opposed to security cameras. Many security officers have prior police or military background, but that is by no means a requirement to enter the security field. 

So You Want to Be a Security Officer but Don't Know Where to Start

Becoming a security guard only involves a few prerequisites. The general requirements include:

  1. Must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Pass criminal and background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. 
  3. Complete at least 40 hours of the required training. 

Power of Arrest & Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Awareness

A total of 8 hours of Power of Arrest and Weapons of Mass Destruction & Terrorism Awareness classes (4 hours each) are required to apply for California guard registration. 

Mandatory Courses

After completing 8 hours of POA and WMD/Terrorism Awareness courses, you will need to complete 32 hours of the following:

  1. Public Relations
  2.  Observation and Documentation
  3. Communication and its Significance
  4. Legal Aspects and Liability

Elective Courses

Individuals who wish to continue their education may elect to take any of the following:

  1.  Post Orders & Assignments [4 Hours]
  2. Employer Policies/ Orientation [4 Hours]
  3. Evacuation Procedures [4 Hours]
  4. Officer Safety [4 Hours]
  5. Arrests, Search and Seizures [4 Hours]
  6. Access Control [4 Hours]
  7. Trespass [4 Hours]
  8. Laws, Codes, Regulations and Ordinances [4 Hours]
  9. First Aid, CPR [4 Hours]
  10. Handling Difficult People [4 Hours]
  11. Work Place Violence [4 Hours]
  12.  Chemical Agents [4 Hours]
  13. Preserving the Incident Scene [4 Hours]
  14. Crowd Control [4 Hours] 
  15. Driver Safety [4 Hours]
  16. Supervision [4 Hours]
  17. Courtroom Demeaner [4 Hours]
  18. Parking/ Traffic Control [4 Hours]
  19. Radio Procedures [4 Hours]
  20. BSIS Certified Course in Firearms Training [8 Hours]*
  21. BSIS Certified Course in Baton Training [8 Hours] *
  22. School Security Guard Training [8 Hours]*
  23. Introduction to Executive Protection [4 Hours]
  24. Annual Firearm Requalification [4 Hours]
  25. Fire Safety Course [4 Hours]
  26. Course in the Use of Stun Gun or Air Taser [4 Hours]

Firearm Permit Fact Sheet

Individuals may apply for a firearms permit if they are U.S. Citizens or a permanent legal immigration status. These individuals must also be at least 21 years of age in addition to the following:

  1. Not be banned from owning or possessing any firearm pursuant to State or Federal 
  2. Must complete a criminal history background check through the FBI and the CA Department of Justice
  3. Complete and submit the Firearms Permit initial application to the bureau
  4. Complete the required training courses (including passing all required examinations and qualifications
  5. Pay the initial application fee
  6. Pass an assessment within the six months preceding the date the application is submitted to the bureau



Firearms Assessment

Individuals applying for a firearms permit must pass an assessment for the purposes of determining whether they possess appropriate judgement, restraint, and self-control to carry a firearm while on duty. The assessment and application will be valid for a the specific caliber for which they’ve applied for. Once a firearms permit is granted, the caliber will appear on the firearm permit itself. Permitholders may not carry a firearm with a caliber that does not appear on their firearms permit. If one wishes to add calibers to their permit, they must submit another application and undergo another assessment for that specific caliber. The following are requirements to add calibers to a pre-existing permit:

> Current and valid BSIS firearms permit

> Complete at least am 8-hour course on carrying a gun and use of firearm

> Pass a BSIS written firearm exam with a minimum passing score of 85%

> Completion of range training

> Submission of a form to add the caliber


Renewing a Firearms Permit

To renew a firearms permit, the permit holder needs to complete a firearms renewal application and submit payment to the bureau at least 60 days prior to the permit’s expiration date. Within that time, the permit holder needs to complete 4 range qualifications, 2 of which needs to be completed within a 12-month period of the permit’s 2-year term with no 2 being within 4 months of each other. As always, range qualifications must be completed at a bureau-approved firearms training facility. 


The permit holder needs to complete a 2-hour review training course in the se of force and de-escalation of force. This is in line with a bureau-approved trainer ascertaining whether or not the permit holder possesses appropriate judgement and restraint. Renewal applicants needs to pass the written firearms exam again with a passing score of at least 85%. 

Baton Permit

A baton permit may only be issued by bureau-certified baton training facilities to individuals ho completes the required baton training course or those who possess a valid and current BSIS-issued security guard registration. Baton permits are not subject to renewal.

A Guide to: Security Guards

Security guards, or security officers, are mainly in charge of observing and reporting when it comes to keeping an eye out for suspicious or illegal activities. Truthfully, guards are responsible for performing a variety of tasks that pertain to the safety and security of job site or property. Security guards may be in charge of conducting regular foot patrols while checking that doors and windows are locked. Additionally, they may sometimes work closely with local authorities in cases of emergencies. Continue reading for tips on becoming a Security Guard.

A wide range of individuals may need the assistance of private security guards. We’ve personally covered everything from special events (such as weddings, graduations, parties, or school events) to construction sites and even commercial shopping spaces. The need for private security may wax and wane depending on the time of year (i.e, shopping spaces needing a little bit of extra support during the holidays) or a company with multiple locations may need security at different properties at any given time. The professional space may also need to hire private security to make sure that only authorized individuals may enter the building or if they need a guard stationed at front desk to receive or screen packages.

A Career Guide to Becoming a Security Guard

Security guards are responsible for completing a wide range of duties according to client needs to their site-specific post orders. Some positions are static where a guard remains in the same area or they may be responsible for patrolling a wide area. In roving vehicle positions, the guard is responsible for driving a company vehicle while on patrol.

Typical Duties of a Security Guard

  • Complete and deliver accurate reports – including daily and incident reports
  • Conduct regular patrols of job site
  • Follow established security protocols while using initiative and good judgement
  • Work closely with the local police department, fire department, or medical teams
  • Ensure alarm systems are functional
  • Ensure that doors, windows, gates, etc. are locked
  • Make certain that only authorized personnel or vehicles are entering the property
  • Remain vigilant for any suspicious or unlawful activities

Qualifications of becoming a Security Guard

Most Security Guard positions are entry level and only require a high school diploma or equivalent to apply. Additionally, you’ll need to be registered as a Security guard in your respective state and be registered to carry a firearm (if applicable).

  • Must be able to communicate clearly and effectively (both orally and written)
  • Be able to think quickly and critically
  • Have excellent interpersonal skills and be mindful of customer and public relations
  • Exercise good judgement in stressful and potentially dangerous situations
  • Have knowledge of public safety and security
  • Possess knowledge of local laws and regulations
  • Works well independently or as a team
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Ability to pass a background check and drug screening
  • Must maintain and current and valid drivers license (if applicable)

Security Guard Job Education and Training

Most companies will provide on the job training when starting at a new site or shift. Regular training and updates are recommended to ensure that security guards remain on track for providing excellent service. However, in order to attain your guard registration card, you must complete the following steps:

  • The power to arrest training must be completed prior to the issuance of a Security Guard Registration
  • The thirty-two (32) hours of training in security officer skills must be completed within the first six (6) months of registration.
  • Eight (8) hours of continuing training must be completed annually (BPC 7583.6 and California Code of Regulations

The training may be administered by a PPO (Private Patrol Operator), a Bureau-certified training facility, or by a Bureau-approved course provider. Find out more here.

Other Skills and Experience

Although not required, having an associates degree in subjects such as criminal justice may set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Additionally, being fluent in a second language may make you more hirable compared to others applying for the same position.

To apply for a position as a security guard with Armed Force Security, click here.