A State by State Security Guard License Guide

Security Guard Registration Requirements in California

The California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services registers the state's security guards and proprietary private security officers.

Proprietary private security officers provide security services directly to their employer and are not contracted by another entity; they are typically unarmed professionals who interact with the public while on the job (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/ppso_fact.shtml). Security guards, on the other hand, are authorized to work for companies that provide security services.

Both security guards and proprietary private security officers go through a background check process. The Bureau requires that individuals employed in either role be at least eighteen years of age.

Security guards have state-mandated training requirements. Some security guards will also need a firearms permit or baton permit; this entails additional training.

Security guards have continuing education requirements.

Select a California Security Guard Registration Topic:

Security Guard Training Requirements

A security guard must complete at least 40 hours of education through a private patrol operator or certified training facility. Training must take place on a timeline set by the Bureau (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/industries/g_train.shtml). At least eight hours must be completed prior to assignment. Another 16 hours are to be completed within 30 days of assignment; the remaining 16 hours, within six months.

Pre-service training must cover powers to arrest and terrorism awareness and weapons of mass destruction. The candidate will take a test before credentialing.

The remaining 32 hours may include a combination of mandatory content and electives. Mandatory topics include the following:

  • Public relations
  • Observation and documentation
  • Communication
  • Legal aspects and liability

At least half of the mandatory coursework hours are to take place within the first 30 days.

Additional required hours may consist of electives. The Bureau has provided a list and indicated the maximum number of hours that can be credited for each. The program may include any of the following:

  • Employer policies/ orientation
  • Post orders
  • Officer safety
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Access control
  • Trespass
  • Advanced arrests, search and seizure
  • Laws and regulations
  • First aid and CPR
  • Workplace violence
  • Handling difficult people
  • Crowd control
  • Preserving incidence scenes
  • Driver safety
  • Chemical agents
  • Courtroom demeanor
  • Supervision
  • Radio procedures
  • Parking and traffic control
  • School security guard training
  • Executive protection
  • Firearms training
  • Firearms requalification
  • Baton training
  • Fire safety
  • Air taser or stun gun

Half of the elective coursework is to be delivered within the first 30 days.

Peace offers (whether active duty, retired, or reserve) are directed to contact the Bureau about alternate requirements.

Firearms and Baton Permits

Firearms: An individual who seeks a firearm permit will need 14 hours of training, consisting of eight hours of classroom instruction and six hours of range. Among the topics are moral and legal issues, weapon handling, and emergency procedures. The course must be taken through a Bureau-certified facility or instructor. Prospective students may call (916) 322-4000 for a list of providers. Ultimately, the individual will need to pass both a written exam and a range test.

The armed guard must maintain continued competency. Although the permit is issued for two years, the permit holder will need to requalify twice during each of the two years.

The Bureau notes that the firearms permit does not authorize concealed weapons. Concealed weapon permits are issued at the local level. The Bureau-issued firearms permit is mandatory, though, for security guards who carry guns.

Baton Permit: Some California security guards carry batons. In order to be authorized to carry one, a security guard must have eight hours of training from an approved trainer. The Bureau has provided a list of training facilities (www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/online_services/verify_license.shtml).

Background Check Requirements

Applicants must have fingerprint-based criminal background checks processed by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. California residents can expedite the process by using Live Scan electronic fingerprint processing services. The Bureau has provided Livescan service forms (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/livescan/index.shtml); the prospective security professional will select the form designated for his or her license type. The Office of the Attorney General has provided a list of Live Scan locations, organized by county (https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/locations). The FBI and DOJ fingerprinting fees together total $49; fees can be paid on-site. An additional fee may be due to the vendor; the amount is variable.

Applicants who need hard cards are directed to call 800-952-5210.

The Application Process

Security guard applicants submit their applications after completing the initial eight hours of training. They may receive application forms from their training facility or employing agency. The security guard application can also be submitted online; applicants must first read the instructions and updates (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/online_services/online_licensing.shtml). Applicants who use the online system must also elect to use Live Scan fingerprinting services. Background check processing is typically the last step. After the fingerprints clear, a screen print will be available that can be used as an interim permit; once this is in hand, the security guard can be placed on duty (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/guard_fact.shtml).

The security guard application fee is $50; the online convenience fee, $1. The firearm permit entails payment of an additional $80 fee.

School Security Guard Requirements

School security guards must receive state-mandated training if they provide school security services for 20 or more hours a week (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/industries/syllabus.shtml). They may or may not be under Bureau jurisdiction, depending on their employment circumstances (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/consumers/faqs/school_security_guard.shtml).

Additional Information

Registration information is available from the California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services. The Bureau has provided fact sheets for security guards (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/guard_fact.shtml) and proprietary security officers (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/ppso_fact.shtml). Individuals with questions about security guard registration may call (800) 952-5210 or email ‘bsis at dca.ca.gov’. Additional contact information is available online (http://www.bsis.ca.gov/about_us/contact_us.shtml).

Professional organizations do not issue licenses but serve as additional resources. Security professionals may wish to contact the California Association of Licensed Security Agencies, Guards and Associates (http://www.calsaga.org) and/or their local chapter of ASIS International.

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