Education Requirements for Security Guards

education for security guards

The educational requirements to become a security guard vary from state to state. Whether or not being licensed is required depends upon whether or not the applicant wishes to go into armed or unarmed security as well as who the applicant chooses to work for. These factors cause the requirements to be a security guard to be vastly different. For example, bars and night clubs often only require their security force to follow local ordinances (if there are any), while armed guards or gaming security officers are required to go through extensive classes and training in order to obtain a license to work.

However, all security personnel are taught a common set of basic skills they will practice when on the job. They must understand how to properly and efficiently monitor and patrol their assigned areas. They are often given a basic education by their employers on how to handle and prevent incidents such as acts of violence or theft. All guards are generally taught how to:

  • clearly communicate and cooperate with their local emergency personnel, examples being law enforcement, medical responders, and fire fighters
  • monitor and document incidents and disturbances that occur on their watch
  • check and ensure the safety of their area and equipment
  • be a quick and critical thinker
  • make fast, confident decisions

Requirements for an Armed Guard vs. an Unarmed Guard

Armed security guards always require more training than unarmed guards due to the fact that they carry a firearm. They must obtain a license to legally possess a firearm at work and will receive training on how and when they can use their weapon. There is almost always some sort of firearms exam that must be passed in order to become a certified armed guard. The qualifications that go along with this will depend upon the state the applicant is working out of. It is guaranteed that the applicant will be expected to pass a background check.

Obtaining a Guard Card

Some states require armed and unarmed guards alike to obtain a Guard Card in order to enter the profession. In order to certify for a card, the applicant must go through a training course either online, in a school, or at a training site. The steps to obtaining a Guard Card are as follows:

  • a minimum of forty hours spent in security training classes
  • pass and complete the Power to Arrest course
  • submitting a copy of their fingerprints through Live Scan


In order to become a security guard in the state of Illinois, the applicant must first obtain a PERC Card. PERC is short for Permanent Employee Registration Card. This card proves that the applicant has submitted to and passed state and federal background checks as well as a fingerprint check. This card prevents companies from being able to hire applicants who have not undergone a thorough background check. It is a fail-safe way for the state to prevent convicted felons from holding a position of authority over its citizens.

Security Classes

The number of hours an applicant needs to put into security classes differs from state to state. Usually, a total of forty hours is required, with eight hours completed before the applicant starts working, but some states may require more. Most states require an extra sixteen hours of training courses to be completed within a thirty day period of being hired. Security classes will educate the applicant on:

  • the Power to Arrest course
  • recognizing and de-escalating situations
  • techniques for restraining combative individuals
  • learning and upholding the local laws in regards to people and property
  • recognizing and preventing terroristic activities
  • public relations
  • how to recognize and handle mental illness, substance abusers, and aggressive individuals

Whether it’s armed or unarmed, security guard jobs are now positions of authority within society. Just like a police officer or EMS responder, being a security guard comes with just as many responsibilities as it does liabilities. The applicant may not be required to attend security classes to obtain employment, but doing so would be greatly beneficial. Seeking further education will insure that the applicant is clear on what they are and are not allowed to do while on the job. Having a clear understanding of the rules and regulations will not only make the applicant more efficient while at work, but it will also prevent them from making serious mistakes that could seriously jeopardize their career, or worse, lead to legal repercussions.