A State by State Security Guard License Guide

Security Guard Registration Requirements in Virginia

Virginia security guards are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Criminal Justice Systems (DCJS). Security professionals must be credentialed unless they are exempted under state code (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title9.1/chapter1/section9.1-140/). Both armed and unarmed guards are registered. Virginia’s armed guards have limited powers of arrest; they must complete significantly longer training programs.

Virginia also certifies high-level managers as compliance agents; each private security services business must have a professional in this role. A compliance agent must meet experience requirements.

Select a Virginia Security Guard Topic:

Security Officer Requirements

An unarmed security officer must be at least 18 years old and must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/howto/registrations/unarmedSecurityOfficer.cfm).

He or she must complete 18 hours of entry-level core training. The program will include an orientation that includes general security officer duties, ethics, and applicable state code, as well as signs of terrorism. Core training will also include the following:

  • Law
  • Patrol, communication, and access control
  • Documentation
  • Confrontation management
  • Emergency procedures
  • Use of force

The course will culminate in a comprehensive written exam.

Prospective students can search for private training schools on the Department website (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/trainingSchools/index.cfm).

Professionals with recent law enforcement experience may be exempted from completing the traditional Virginia curriculum (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+reg+6VAC20-171-450). They must be able to document having had entry-level training as well as five years of continuous experience. Security professionals who have worked continuously for at least five years in the field or who previously completed an approved training program that is at the level of current Virginia standards may also be eligible for exemption.

The individual will file a partial training exemption with appropriate supporting documentation.

Registration must be renewed biennially. The security officer will pursue four hours of in-service in the core subjects.

Armed Security Officer Requirements

In Virginia, the minimum age for armed guards is the same as for unarmed guards: 18 years of age (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/howto/registrations/armedSecurityOfficer.cfm).

A professional who will be armed must pursue an additional endorsement. The total program (including the 18-hour core program) will be 50 - 53 hours. The security officer will have eight hours of coursework in arrest authority and 24 hours in handgun training. Some security officers will pursue three hours of shotgun training; this is required only if the security officer will have access to a shotgun at work.

The firearms student will need to pass a written test before completing range training (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+reg+6VAC20-171-300). The minimum score is 70%. In order to pass the basic handgun qualification, the student will need to score 75%.

The Department has provided a list of firearms training schools (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/howto/endorsements/firearms.cfm).

An armed security officer must have completed training and completed the registration process before he or she can work as an armed security officer (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/faq/catView.cfm?category=Armed%20Security%20Officer/Courier).

The armed security officer will need to complete firearms retraining; this is in addition to the required in-service in the core subjects. Registration is issued for two years, but the firearms endorsement is renewed annually.

The Security Officer Application Process

Applicants must have fingerprint-based criminal background checks. This step may be completed before all requirements have been met for certification. However, the process will need to be completed in a timely manner as the background check is valid for only 120 days. The prospective security officer will submit the fingerprint card along with the supplied fingerprint processing form, evidence of legal residence, and a $50 fee.

An individual who has ever been convicted of a crime (other than a minor traffic violation) will need to include documentation including court records. The licensing agency will also seek supportive documentation such as reference letters and evidence of rehabilitation.

The Department of Criminal Justice Services has provided an information page about the fingerprinting and background check process (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/howTo/common/fingerprints.cfm); an applicant will find links to needed forms.

A student can expect his or her certified training school to send notification to the licensing agency when requirements have been met (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/faq/catView.cfm?category=Training).

An applicant who is requesting consideration of alternate training will submit a training waiver credit form along with supporting documentation and $25 fee. This step can be completed well in advance of application for registration. However, an exemption is no longer valid after twelve months (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+reg+6VAC20-171-445).

Registration applications are available on the website of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/forms/sectionForms.cfm?code=8&program=ps).

A security professional may add categories between renewals by submitting an ‘additional registration category’ form.

Compliance Agent Requirements and Application Process

Experienced professionals may be certified as compliance agents. Experience may be earned in security, law enforcement, or a related field (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title9.1/chapter1/section9.1-139/). The requirement varies depending on whether prior experience was at the managerial or supervisory level. If experience was at the required level, three years will suffice. Otherwise, the licensing agency will require five years.

The compliance agent must attend a training session and pass an examination (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+reg+6VAC20-171-72). The minimum passing score is 80%.

The individual will initiate the process by submitting a training enrollment application and other application materials, including fingerprints and documentation of eligibility (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/howto/certifications/complianceAgent.cfm). The training costs $75. A $50 application fee will be included with the application packet.

A prospective compliance agent who does not pass the examination on a first attempt may retake it. If he or she does not pass on a second attempt, it will be necessary to submit another application and attend the six hour training session again.

Renewal depends on completion of in-service requirements.

A security agency will designate a compliance agent as part of the application process.

Additional information

Licensing and registration information is available from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Systems (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/programs.cfm). The licensing agency can be reached by telephone at (804) 786-4700.

Legislative code and regulations are available online (http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/code.cfm).

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