A State by State Security Guard License Guide

Unarmed Security Guard Training

Unarmed security guards can be found at stores, apartment buildings, hotels and casinos, healthcare settings, campuses, special events, and public and private properties. Courses for unarmed security officers typically cover job duties, communication and public contact, and legalities and limitations of power. Security officers learn to interact with the public in positive ways, observe and report, respond to emergency situations, follow protocols, and avoid overstepping their bounds. Clients may have specific requirements.

Security Guard training requirements vary from state to state. State mandates are typically modest, though there is a movement toward increasing them. ASIS International has set recommended training standards that go beyond what is often required.

Some security officers go far beyond the mandates, either because their employer mandates/ offers additional training or because they are proactive with regard to building their skill set and advancing their career. Some security companies, notably, are very selective – and some pay well above the norm. It doesn’t take a long time to be work-ready. Going beyond the modest requirements, though, can be a boon.

Unarmed Security Guard State Standards

The following are examples of varying state standards: Louisiana mandates 16 hours, to be completed within 60 days of assignment. New York requires eight hours of pre-assignment training and another 16 hours completed while on-the job. Topics include the role of security officer, powers and limitations of power, public relations and communication, access control, emergency situations, and ethics and conduct. California requires 40 hours. Topics include powers to arrest, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, public relations, communication, liability and legal aspects, and observation and reporting. The requirement includes 16 hours of electives.

While high school education is the foundation for many security officer positions, some employers like to see degrees or experience in related fields.

Where to Find Unarmed Security Training

Often states have a list of official training providers. Because requirements are state-specific, this is a good place to begin the search.

Security companies – those that are licensed, legitimate, and well-respected -- are another resource. Some have in-house programs that go beyond the state minimum.

A state's list of approved providers can include security companies. It can also include community colleges and career schools.

Where to Find Advanced Unarmed Security Training or Comprehensive Security Education

Some prospective security officers enroll in more comprehensive programs that include an introduction to the security officer field along with related subject matter. The degree may be in criminal justice. Some criminal justice programs offer courses leading to a security officer credential.

Among the companies that value degrees in criminal justice and security is G4S. In order to take on some G4S security positions, a person needs either a related degree or related experience. Chances are good that one won’t want to pursue the degree for a general security officer position, even at a desirable company, but there can be advantages to having both industry experience and formal education. A number of companies state that they promote from within.

Security officers may progress into managerial roles. Allied Universal reports that nearly 2/3 of their senior managerial roles are filled internally. The organization has presented a potential career ladder with steps that include shift supervisor, field supervisor, operations manager, client manager, director of operations, and branch manager… on up to regional president.

A possibility for the person who is considering advanced roles in the security industry, is a degree in security management or security administration. Areas of focus will vary. Content can include governmental security, cybersecurity, and management of security programs. (A number of major security companies, notably, offer integrated security solutions).

Many degrees are a potential asset. A security officer can bolster his or her professional skills without a degree. Valuable advanced offerings may be available through one’s own employer. Some security companies provide many continuing education opportunities. Courses may be available through e-learning. Allied Universal makes ASIS International courses available to its security professionals (https://www.aus.com/blog/becoming-certified-security).

There are a lot of courses that can improve one’s performance in particular situations. For inspiration, one might want to take a look at California electives. Among the creditable topics are crowd control, courtroom demeanor, trespass, evacuation procedures, workplace violence, and handling of difficult people.

Security officers may take courses geared for specialized roles like campus security.

Seeking Certification and Mentorship

Security officers can seek certification through the International Foundation for Protection Officers. The Certified Protection Officer credential requires completion of a 95-hour course; it is an option for security officers who have the equivalent of half a year of experienced or are enrolled in a recognized program. Students will not actually receive certification status until they have the requisite experience. The following are among the topics:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Interviewing and statements
  • Alarm systems
  • Security risk management
  • Incident scene principles
  • Human relationships in global
  • Career planning

The International Foundation for Protection Officers also offers the Professional Security Officer credential. This has a lesser training requirement: 45 hours.

ASIS International certifies experienced security professionals. It also has a Security Leaders Mentoring Program.

Security officers can also seek specialized certifications. The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety offers certification for security and safety officers who work in healthcare settings. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute offers the Lodging Security Officer credential (https://www.ahlei.org/product/lodging-security-officer-program/).

Unarmed Security Guard Earnings

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a mean average security guard wage of $15.41 an hour or $32,050 a year in 2018. The median was $13.70 an hour. 10% of security offices earned above $23.87.

Related:

Armed Security Guard Training