Security Guard Requirements in Colorado: Private Security Officers and Merchant Guards

The State of Colorado does license security guards (https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Business-Licensing/Business-Licenses/Security-Services/Security-Guards). Those who carry firearms will apply for permits from their local governments. Multiple jurisdictions within Colorado license security guards. Colorado Springs licenses private security officers while Denver licenses “merchant guards” (https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Business-Licensing/Business-Licenses/Security-Services/Security-Guards).

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The companies that employ security guards may also be subject to various laws and regulations. Denver, for example, licenses “merchant guard companies” (http://www.denvergov.org/businesslicensing/DenverBusinessLicensingCenter/BusinessLicenses/MerchantGuardCompany/tabid/441673/Default.aspx).

In many cases, the responsibility of the security guard is to meet the standards of the employer. Some employers choose to set requirements well above those that are required by law. A security guard may be hired by a company that provides security services to clients or may be hired directly by a business to patrol and/ or provide other security services. Some security officers work in the public sector.

All prospective security guards can expect thorough background screening. Other requirements vary a good deal from one industry or employer to the next.

Select a Colorado Security Guard Topic:

Background and Experience Requirements

A prospective security guard can expect a background check at the employment level. Employers may check for more than just criminal convictions. They may, for example, examine the applicant’s driving record. A drug test may also be required as a condition of hire.

Employers often state that the applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED. Some require, or at least state a preference, for education beyond this level. In some cases, the employer will consider either an academic degree or relevant work experience (for example, law enforcement or military work).

Military or law enforcement experience is highly valued for some types of security position.

Academic and Physical Skills

Job ads may cite various academic skills, for example, the ability to write reports. The security officer may need to read items such as procedural manuals and maintenance instructions. He or she may need to know or learn particular software applications.

Employers may cite physical abilities: for example, ease walking and standing and ability to lift 40 or even 100 pounds. They may mention specific items that might need to be carried (for example, fire extinguishers).

Various certifications and licenses, though not universally required, are important for particular positions. Security positions can include patrolling by car or even parking. In many cases, a security guard will be expected to have a driver’s license.

Employers may also seek a first responder or EMT certification.

Differing Expectations for Security Guards Who Use or Do Not Use Force

Some job ads state that there will be no use of force, and that the guard instead serves as a “visual deterrence”. The guard may respond to suspicious activities by alerting others.

In some cases, though, the security officer will be expected to carry a firearm and/ or know how to apply restraints. An individual may need to be at least 21 to receive consideration for an armed position. Legal mandates are more stringent.

Some other security jobs, for example, those at hotels, emphasize customer service.

Local Security Licenses

The Office of Economic Development and International Trade advises Colorado guards to check with local authorities about requirements.

Information about local licensing may be available from the city clerk.

Colorado Springs security guard license applications are available online from the city clerk’s office (https://coloradosprings.gov/city-clerk/page/security-license). An applicant will need to submit a fingerprint card. Applicants may go in person to submit applications at the Police Operations Center.

Denver merchant guard applications are also available online (https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Business-Licensing/Business-Licenses/Security-Services/Security-Guards). The applicant must have a letter of hire. He or she must present character references. The licensing agency will carry out a name-based background check through the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI). The applicant must have a physical examination. There is a separate application process for armed status. A training certificate must be presented. The individual must have an FBI background check.

Security Guard Jobs in the Public Sector

Security personnel may be hired in the public sector in any of multiple roles.

Positions with the Colorado job classification ‘Safety Security Officer’ are found in state agencies, including mental health facilities. Professionals who are employed in this capacity are expected to have either 60 semester hours of college coursework or two years of relevant law enforcement experience. Additional requirements include being at least 21, having a driver’s license, and not having disqualifying felony convictions.

Those with the classification “Security” have a differing set of expectations. These professionals provide building security and manage parking access. College education is not necessarily expected. Prior experience as a parking attendant may be valued.

Information about jobs in the public sector is available from the Colorado Division of Human Resources (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dhr/classdescriptions).

Additional Information

Information about security guard state licensing requirements is available from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Business-Licensing/Business-Licenses/Security-Services/Security-Guards).

Professional associations may serve as an additional resource. Colorado boasts several local chapters of ASIS International.