Working as a security guard allows you to help people every day. If you have an interest in law enforcement, then becoming a security guard is an excellent way to gain an entry-level position in the field and begin to learn more about the industry as a whole.
Unlike a police officer, who is trained to maintain public order and arrest criminal suspects, security guards are directly responsible for protecting people and property. They are assigned to locations such as businesses, retail stores, and residential communities to patrol, intervene when necessary, and maintain a level of safety to help prevent theft, vandalism, and disorder.
How to Become a Security Guard in the U.S.
Before you start your career as a security guard in the United States, there are a few things to do and keep in mind. Here is a breakdown of these requirements to help you start your research and career journey.
Meet the Minimum Security Guard Requirements
Every aspiring security guard has to meet these basic qualifications before they can find a job as a security guard:
- Be at least 18 or 21 years old (depending on your state)
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Pass a criminal background check and drug screening
There are additional requirements that are not explicitly stated but essential to the job, such as:
- Good physical condition (capable of running, lifting at least 50 pounds, and being able to stand for long periods)
- Good judgment and quick problem-solving skills
- Analytical and critical thinking
- Excellent time management skills
- Ability to remain calm under pressure or in high-stress situations
Research Your State's Specific Security Guard Licensing Requirements
Every state sets its own requirements for security guards. You will need to meet these requirements before applying to any company; any reputable security agency would require you to meet all of the state regulations before they hire you, or they will help you move through training to earn your security guard license, according to local state guidelines.
The best way to determine your state’s security guard licensing requirements is to Google “how to become a security guard in [your state]”. The Department of State website will tell you what you need to do to earn your security guard license. For example, in New York, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, submit fingerprints, complete an application, have no previous convictions, hold a valid New York state driver’s license or ID, and complete training.
Complete Your Security Guard Training
You must complete your state’s required training course to earn your security guard license. These courses range from eight to 16 hours for a basic security guard license, and additional hours are required for guards who want to become licensed armed security guards.
If you want to become an armed security guard, you will also likely need to earn a firearm license in your state before your security guard training.
Security agencies worth working for also have their own training programs to ensure that every guard they employ is fully capable of performing their role. At Silbar Academy, all of our guards must undergo security guard training through our intensive new-hire training program. This program prepares new team members to work in various settings using our police-grade equipment.
In security guard training, new guards learn the roles and responsibilities of a security guard, general duties and assignments, communication skills, de-escalation strategies, conflict management, theft prevention, guarding practices, how to operate surveillance equipment, crowd control strategies, CPR, and ethics and conduct.
Additional skills that security guards learn include access control, crime prevention, and general first aid. The exact subject matter will vary by state. However, all security guards must be trained to perform their roles confidently and effectively in various situations and circumstances.
Whether patrolling a warehouse at night, managing an office building’s access during the day, or working at a festival of 10,000 or more, you need to know precisely how to handle yourself and maintain order at all times.
Is it Difficult to Become a Security Guard?
It can be challenging for those not currently in the physical shape to perform the role, as they will need to complete additional physical training to reach the ideal form for the job. However, it is not difficult for those who are dedicated and passionate enough about working as a security guard. Rather, the journey throughout training is challenging, rewarding, and motivating.
Finding Your First Job as a Security Guard
Once licensed, research security companies in your area or desired work location. It’s better to work with a reputable agency rather than try to work freelance or only take one-off jobs. Furthermore, being hired as a security guard independently for a business could put you at a greater liability risk than if you are assigned to locations by a professional company.
Silbar Security is among the country’s leading security providers, with a presence nationwide. Our guards are trained using a background inspired by our founder’s history in law enforcement; with police-grade equipment and techniques, Silbar Security guards are proudly among the highest trained security professionals in the industry.
If you would like to learn more about working with us, please visit our employment page to view all current opportunities in our various locations. You can also contact us to learn more about our company and hiring practices.