Security Officer Requirements in New Jersey

New Jersey security officers must meet requirements promulgated under the Security Officer Registration Act (SORA). Individuals who operate security agencies are licensed. Employees and subcontractors are registered as security officers. They must meet background and training requirements. Even off-duty police officers are, in many instances, subject to SORA. Security officers who are employed by businesses other than security services to serve their own internal purposes, however, are not subject to the same rules.

Armed security guards will need to hold pistol permits. The process is separate. In many cases, the application will be submitted to a local authority.

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Security Officer Requirements

A security officer must be at least 18. He or she must have an acceptable legal background. There can be no criminal convictions of the first, second, third, or fourth degree and no convictions involving use, possession, or sale of controlled substances. Other convictions may be disqualifying if the Superintendent determines that registration would be contrary to the public interest.

Once approved, the individual will need to complete a training program. It will include 24 hours of instruction and will be taught by a certified instructor. Training is to be completed within 30 days of employment.

Registration is renewed biennially. The security officer will need to take a 16-hour refresher course.

The Security Officer Application Process

New Jersey mandates that any employee regulated under SORA provide an ‘employee’s statement’ Employees will provide basic information such as age and will affirm that they have not been convicted of disqualifying crimes.

Application precedes fingerprinting and training. Applications are submitted online (

Background checks will be carried out by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The applicant will find a fingerprinting form at the end of the application. The vendor is now Identogo by MorphoTrust. Applicants can find information on the ‘New Jersey” page of the MorphoTrust website (; however, they will not be able to schedule without the required form. This can be found in the application.

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An individual who has been fingerprinted but is awaiting background check results may be granted a temporary permit.

There is a $75 application/ certification fee.

Requirements for Armed Security Officers

Private security employees are specifically referenced in Chapter 54 of State Administrative Code: ‘Firearms and Weapons’. One of the requirements for obtaining a ‘pistol permit’ is demonstration of need. If a security officer is to carry a handgun, the state police will need to know that he or she incurs threat of bodily harm while performing authorized duties and also that the weapon is needed to alleviate the threat of bodily harm to some person(s). Applications may be denied on the basis of criminal background, drug use, or mental illness.

The state requires a demonstration of safe handling and usage. There are many alternatives. The applicant may demonstrate that he or she has completed an appropriate course, test, or qualification. The instructor or provider does need to represent a reputable organization. An instructor may be qualified based on certification by the National Rifle Association or a police academy; other certifications may be accepted. A training course can also be accepted if it is determined to be substantially equivalent to the one that has been approved by the New Jersey Police Training Commission. Options are described in 13:54-2.4 of Administrative Code.

The required application is SD 642. It can be downloaded from the website of the New Jersey State Police ( It is generally also available from police stations. Three references will need to sign the form; the purpose is to verify that the applicant has good character and can display self-control.

Handgun application materials are typically submitted to the chief of police of the local jurisdiction. However, in some cases, they are submitted to the Superintendent of the Division of State Police.

The applicant will provide evidence of required knowledge and a letter indicating need to carry a firearm. The following are also required:

  • Four small photographs
  • A consent to release mental health records
  • A $20 fee

Requirements for Security Operators

Individuals who operate security agencies (proprietors, partners, officers) are also regulated by SORA. They must meet requirements beyond those required of security officers. Security operators must be at least 25 years of age. They must have five years of experience at an appropriate level of authority. In order to be accepted, experience earned through a security agency must be at the managerial or supervisory level. The licensing agency will also accept law enforcement experience. An individual who qualifies on the basis of law enforcement experience can no longer be connected with a law enforcement agency.

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A security operator will need five character references from citizens who he or she has known for at least three years.

A security agency must deliver a $5,000 surety bond.

Additional Information

Security officer registration information is available from the New Jersey State Police; the necessary documents can be found under “private detective information” ( The Private Detective Unit can be reached by email at ‘pdu at’.