The demand for private security guards continues to increase. As state and local budgets shrink, and with them the security offered by police services, businesses and other organizations are looking for ways to protect their employees and assets. The large number of returning veterans and former police officers has increased both the pool of security professionals and the quality of the services offered.
The industry has become a lot more organized in the last couple of decades. Most security professionals work as contractors or employees of private security firms. This makes has introduced a level of stability in the industry; it also allows members to enjoy health benefits, insurance, and steady work—things that were once quite rare in this field.
If you have a military or police background, you may be surprised at the range of opportunities available to you in private security. Although most guards work for a security company, the industry as a whole is not controlled by a small number of firms. It is a highly populated and highly competitive industry, with companies of all sizes as participants. Depending on your qualifications and work needs, you might be offered jobs from more than one company and may actually be able to work two or more jobs.
The primary requirement to work security in the state of Illinois is to earn a PERC card. PERC stands for Permanent Employee Registration Card. It was introduced in the Nineties to ensure that people who come into contact with children or get jobs that involve physical contact have a clean criminal record. Security is one of the professions that require a PERC card.
It is not that hard to get one. As an applicant, you need to provide proof that you are free from criminal convictions and fill out a PERC application form. You will eventually send this form to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR). For the latter to even consider your application you must be at least 18 years of age and be a U.S. citizen or have in your possession a valid U.S. work permit. To prove your age and residential status a birth certificate or passport will do. See the full list of Illinois security guard training requirements.
Verifying your criminal record, or lack thereof, is the most important part of this process. Once the IDFPR receives your application and validates your age and right to work in the U.S., it will ensure that your name does not pop up in any criminal database. To complete this part of the process your fingerprints will be needed.
Ink fingerprints are no longer accepted. You will instead need to submit electronic fingerprints. On the PERC form you will find a list of companies that do electronic fingerprint processing. You should select one that has offices closest to you and schedule an appointment. It is important to note that the IDFPR will only accept fingerprints from certified companies. If you know of a company, you should ensure it is on the list before proceeding. A number of companies allow you to schedule appointments online.
The actual fingerprinting is done within minutes. You should take a license or other valid form of identification with you on the day you are to have it done. Once you have paid to have your fingerprints captured, you will be given a receipt. You will need to include this receipt in the PERC application form you send to the IDFPR. You should also include the security clearance document you will receive after your prints have been captured.
After you have had your fingerprints captured, you will have completed the most expensive and time consuming part of the process. You must then fill out the form as accurately as possible. You will also need to include a recent photo of yourself. It is best not to use grainy photos, photos that have sat in your wallet for some time, or photos of you with other people. The best, and perhaps only option, is to have a photo taken at a shop that specializes in doing passport photos or a machine that does the same. These are clean, clear, and give the appearance of being official. There is a spot reserved on the application form for the photo. You must attach the latter to the form using only transparent tape.
Before mailing everything to the IDFPR you should do one final check to ensure all the required items are in the package. When your application is approved, you will receive your PERC card by mail.
All security guards in the state of Illinois must be licensed. Obtaining a PERC card is a necessary part of that licensing process. In fact, you cannot get a guard card without first acquiring a PERC card. If you are set on a career in the security profession, you should begin the application process for the PERC card straightaway.