Criminal Justice Career Guides



Did you ever think of becoming a security guard? If yes, we are here to provide you with complete guideline regarding how to become a security guard. Read on to find out if it’s the right career of you, and choose wisely!


A security guard is someone specially assigned for the protection of buildings, business, and people, and sometimes, they are hired to look over certain special events. The primary duty of a security guard is to maintain the safety and security of people and their assets.

Security guards are mostly hired for places having highly valuable contents like banks and business markets. They are given the charge to protect a certain area against any sort of criminal activity. They work in correspondence with the law enforcement agencies to enforce and ensure law, aid in the investigation and protection against crimes.


Security guard jobs are not easy. For this, you need to have certain special skills in you. Here is a list of skills required in a person to become a security guard:

Physical fitness:

Physical fitness is the first and topmost important quality required . It is necessary for a person to be physically healthy, fit and active in order to become a security guard.

Good observation skills:

Guards must have excellent observation skills so that they can quickly detect any criminal activity happening in their domain.

Good Communication skills:

A good  guard knows how to communicate effectively both in writing and orally.

Quick and Critical thinker:

As guards need to perform action rapidly depending on how critical the situation it. It is necessary for them to be a quick thinker so that they can take action fast and quick.

Having good knowledge of the customer and public service:

It is also required for a guard to be specifically mindful of the customer and general public services so that it can be easy to serve the public in a better way.

Good judgement skills:

They are critical in case of emergency and danger situations. A security guard must know when what necessary action is required and how to act upon it.

Can work well both independently and as teamwork:

This skill is also necessary if a person desires to choose this profession. A security guard must-have skills to manage tasks independently, as well as when assigned in teamwork.


A  guard job is the one that comes with significant responsibilities. That is why this job requires a lot of training and experience. The general responsibilities and duties assigned to a security guard are listed below:

  1. To monitor and guard the premises
  2. To prevent any sort of theft and/or criminal activity
  3. To make quick decisions in case of emergency
  4. To assist in secure transportation of assets, money or high priced goods
  5. To operate surveillance equipment
  6. To detect, observe and report any unusual activity
  7. To escort people, they are given the duty of
  8. To communicate quickly with the higher authorities and emergency services as and when required.



This article will help you guide step-by-step regarding the security guard profession. This will simplify the career for you, and you can follow the right path leading you to achieve your goal.

It must be made clear here that you need to choose your career wisely. Choose the career of a security guard if you are ready to take challenges and work in a challenging and often very demanding situation. Once you have made your decision, follow these steps that will lead you comfortably to your desired goal.

STEP 1: Choose the best training program:

Once you have decided to pursue your career as a security guard, the initial steps can be very confusing. This is because the  guard industry is regulated on a state basis; that is, each state has its own training requirements and procedure. Some states may require only on the job training, whereas others may require proper training hours.

Despite this, all states follow a few general requirements which are given below:

  • Candidate must be of 18 years of age or older than this
  • Have no convictions against him
  • Must be sensible, physically fit and of a sharp mind
  • Must carry a GED or a high school diploma

If you fulfil all the above requirements but find the initial steps confusing, begin with contacting your state licensing board. A state licensing board is an organization that looks after all the regulated professions of a respective state. From this organization, you can quickly get knowledge regarding training and work requirements for a security guard in a certain state. In a few cases, the training requirements are listed under different titles. For instance, some states list guards under the title of Investigative professions or security enforcement officers.

So, for complete guidance regarding the training and work requirements, you can simply call the licensing board and ask for the details.

Related: TOP 15 Criminal Justice Jobs That Don’t Require Police Academy



How to choose the right training program:

For choosing the right program, it is essential to consider the following points:

 State-approved curriculum: It is vital to ensure that the training program is accredited and approved for qualification as a security officer.

Classroom-based theoretical lectures and physical training: The most effective training programs for security guards are the ones that encompass both classroom lectures, along with practical training. This trains both your body and mind regarding work as security professionals, and leads to long term success in the career.

Certification: It is a beneficial point to ask if the training program offers certificates or not. These certificates, although add good impact on your resume, this does not make you a certified security guard. In order to earn an official designation, you will need to enroll yourself in a certification program, not just a training program.

STEP 2: Enroll and continue education in the respective professional courses:

Continuing education in the professional courses, designed to polish previous knowledge, is a requirement of most of the United States. Each state has its own set of educational requirements, and even in the states where such courses are not mandatory, they do offer a plus point in the competitive job market.

As mentioned above, each state has its training programs and educational requirements. A few examples of training requirements in specific states are listed below:

Security Guard Training California:

  If you desire to work as a  guard in California, you need to complete a 40-hour training program that is approved by the state. Along with that, you have to pass a written test, 8 hours of training before employment is required, along with 16 hours training during first 30 days of employment and 16 hour training in the first six months. It is also expected to submit fingerprints, an application and application fee, after hiring, you are required to complete the training requirement within the given set of time.

Security Guard Training NYC :

You work as a  guard in New York City; you are required to hold a valid security guard registration card. For this, you are required to pass an FBI check, submit your fingerprints and complete an 8-hour training course before the assignment, which is necessary to be approved by the Department Of State. After the registration card is issued to you, you are required to complete a 16 hour on the job training within 90 days of employment as a security guard. Also, it is mandatory to complete at least 8 hours of continuing education coursework every year in order to maintain the registration card.

Security Guard Training Washington State:

In Washington, if you want to work as an unarmed guard, it is required to have a valid license issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing. For this license, the candidate must complete the pre assignment training, along with the written exam. After clearance from the training program, the candidate is eligible to apply for a license. 

Security Guard Training New Mexico:

In New Mexico, there are 3 different levels of licensing for which a  guard can apply for. Each level requires specific training and experience. For the first two levels, candidates of 18 years of age are eligible. For the third level, the candidate is expected to be of 21 years of age. Along with this, it is obligatory to clear an advanced level training program in order to get selected as a security guard.

The training program for level 1 is of 24 hours. For level 2, the training program is of 48 hours, whereas for level 3, the training program for security guard license is of 72 hours duration.

As described above with the few examples, each state has set its requirements for education and training of security guard. It is better to create a road map for yourself, to help with choosing a specific course and certifications.

For a long term career, it is advised to keep evaluating your opportunities and their requirements to get a better position every time. Do not think that you have mastered in one topic. It is essential to keep on learning and evaluating yourself in order to excel in the career as a security guard.

STEP 3: Security Guard License Application:

After completion of the state-required training and course work, you are qualified to apply for the post of a guard, which is either a license or an official certificate.

In order to obtain a security guard license, it is obligatory to meet the state specific security guard license requirements. These requirements may vary from state to state, but the majority of them include the following qualifying factors:

  •  The candidate must be 18 years of age while applying for a license.
  • The candidate has completed the training and curriculum according to the State requirements.
  • The candidate must pass the physical fitness aptitude test
  • The candidate must pass the criminal background investigation 
  • The FBI fingerprinting of the candidate must be done
  • The candidate must pass a multi panel drug screening in order to qualify for the license.
  • For qualifying license renewal, the candidate is required to complete the specified continuing education hours.
  • The candidate has to pay a licensing fee and agree to a professional code of conduct.

STEP 4: Apply for jobs as a security guard:

Once you receive your license, you are qualified for employment as a  guard. Although there will be lots of positions available in the job market, it is essential to choose the right one for yourself. Not all jobs available in this career are equal. Choose a job wisely according to your training, Try to find employment with an employer who has worked with the newly licensed security guards, and knows how to promote them. The initial career years are critical, so it is important not to settle for any job offer to you, but what gives to a broader opportunity to learn, grow and excel in the field.

STEP 5: How To Become A Certified Security Officer:

Like all careers, a security officer or guard profession is also full of competition. To gain a better position in this, try to get certified in the specific field. To become a certified security professional means that new career opportunities open for you. An example of this is getting a criminal justice certification can lead you to law enforcement or legal system employment. Some of the influential institutions for certifications are listed below:

  • International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) – Certified Protection Officer Program
  • AEGIC Guard Card Certification Program
  • International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety – Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator Certification (Basic, advance, and supervisor)



Security is a 24 hours job. Usually, there are shifts of security guards comprising of morning, evening and night shift duty. This gives the employees time to balance work life and personal needs.


The salary package of a security guard depends on variable factors. These include:

  • Contract requirements
  • Job duties performed
  • Facility assigned for duty
  • State minimum wage

You can choose the job that is best suitable for you, giving you good salary benefit and more learning opportunities.

Median wages (2018)

$13.70 hourly, $28,490 annual

Projected growth (2018-2028)

Average (4% to 6%) Average (4% to 6%)


If you want to pursue your career as a security guard, follow the steps, choose the job wisely, and learn, educate and improve your security expertise from all workplaces. Only in this way, you can pursue and grow in this career with a better future and better opportunities. Best of luck!




US Bureau of Labor Statistics


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