Numerous public and private facilities employ security guards to provide crowd control or to offer additional security at a facility or event. Almost all states require that security guards be licensed, typically with separate licenses for unarmed and armed security officers. Some employers prefer to hire security officers with a law enforcement background.
Unarmed Security Officer License
An unarmed security guard license is the basic license in most states. Unarmed security guard licensing requirements typically include an eight-hour training course and passing a background check that may include drug screening. A felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction for fraud or a violent crime will disqualify you from licensing in most cases.
Armed Security Officer License
Most states offer a separate armed security guard license, requiring additional training in firearms use and a separate application. A few states, such as Louisiana, only offer one type of security guard license, and licensing requires both basic security guard training and firearms training. Off-duty peace officers working as security guards are not typically required to be licensed, but retired law enforcement personnel employed as security officers have to be licensed in most states.
Security Industry Certifications
A number of professional and educational organizations offer security officer certification programs. ASIS International offers three security-related certifications, including a Certified Protection Professional designation. Becoming a CPP requires a minimum of seven years of professional security officer experience for an applicant with a bachelor's degree, and passing an exam. The International Foundation for Protection Officers offers a Certified Protection Officer program, which lacks a work experience stipulation, and requires completing a 12-unit training program and passing a final exam.
Concealed Handgun Permits
Some states only issue one type of permit, meaning all licensed gun holders can carry a concealed weapon in those states. Most states require applicants to complete a training program and pass a background check to qualify for a concealed weapons permit. Some employers prefer security officer candidates with a concealed weapons permit.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.