Security Guard Requirements in Ohio: Including Requirements to Start a Security Agency

Ohio security guards are regulated by Ohio Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS). PISGS recognizes security professionals in various roles, including those who own security agencies, those who are hired to run security agencies, and those who are employed as guards. Those who are in the security business (whether sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation) are known as security providers. They are licensed. Officers may be designated as qualifying agents. Security guards who work as employees of security agencies are often referenced in statute simply as employees.

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Licenses issued by Private Investigator Security Guard Services may be Class A, Class B, or Class C. If security is the only service provided, a Class C license will be issued.

Individuals must hold state credentials unless they are exempt under state statute. Individuals who are protecting the property of their own employers will not necessarily be defined as security providers under state statute (

In order to carry firearms, one must hold a separate certification, also issued by PISGS. The firearm certification may be held by a licensee, qualifying agent, or employee.

One common requirement for all licenses and registrations: a background check.

Select an Ohio Security Guard or Security Agency Topic:

The Background Check Process

All licensees and registrants must have fingerprint-based background checks. However, the process is not the same for all. Individuals who will carry firearms need to have background checks processed through the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) and the FBI. Those who will not carry firearms need background checks only through the BCI. (If the employee or licensee will be carrying a firearm, the BCI is to be notified at the time of application.)

Applicants will use the approved vendor, WebCheck. They can have the fingerprints made before application but should be aware that the Department of Public Safety can only accept background check results completed within the previous 30 days; they are advised to wait until they are ready to submit their materials. The licensing agency has provided a coupon that the applicant will fill out and bring to his or her chosen location (

Employee Registration

For employees, background is the primary qualifier. A criminal history is not always disqualifying. However, the individual cannot have been convicted, within the prior three years, of a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude.

The employer will have the responsibility of ensuing that employees are registered. Employers may register employees using the online system. The licensing agency will require a passport-type photograph.

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An approved security guard employee will be issued an ID card.

Registration must be renewed annually.

Armed Guard Requirements

In order to be certified as a firearm bearer, a licensee or registrant must complete a program approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC).

The program will include 20 hours of training related to handgun usage. It may include additional training related to use of other firearms.

Prospective armed guards will certify that they have not been convicted of domestic violence.

Armed guards must requalify annually.

Qualifying Agent Requirements

A security agency must have at least one qualifying agent; this may be the owner or may be a person hired by the owner. There may be multiple qualifying agents. A qualifying agent will be required to submit a number of documents verifying character and qualifications.

The applicant must demonstrate integrity. The licensing agency will require five professional references. They are to come from individuals with whom the applicant has been acquainted for at least five years.

Recency is a factor in evaluating criminal history.

The professional will need to have spent at least two years working in a related field. The time may have been spent providing services for a private security provider, a law enforcement agency, or another public agency. The licensing agency may accept experience as an attorney. Other experience may be accepted, including education in law enforcement or criminal justice. There are time limits. Education may be accepted if earned at any point during the prior ten years. It cannot, however, be used to fulfill the entire requirement. An individual who qualifies on the basis of education will still need 2,000 hours of security work experience. Requirements are detailed in Administrative Code 4501:7-1.

Qualifying agents must pass an examination that covers the security business as well as state laws and rules. Candidates do not complete this step until after application. The examination is administered in Columbus. The licensing agency will send approved candidates email notification of available examination dates. The candidate should be familiar with Chapter 4749 of state code and with the associated rules. The candidate is expected to pass the examination within 90 days of notification of approval. An individual may be allowed up to three attempts before the application is denied and re-application is required. However, an applicant who fails to show up for a scheduled examination may be denied and required to re-apply.

The Qualifying Agent Application Process

The security provider application and qualifying agent application are to be submitted together. They may now be submitted online. PISGS has provided a PDF guide. Individuals who opt for online application should obtain electronic copies of certain required documents. Various formats, including PDF, Word, and JPG can be accepted.

Applicants qualifying on the basis of security experience will need to document licensure in the state where experience was accrued.

Those who seek consideration of an academic degree should submit a copy of their certificate.

Those with military police backgrounds should submit a copy of the DD-214.

Those with law backgrounds should submit letters of good standing from the state’s supreme court.

The licensing agency will require a two by two photograph. It can be digitalized if it meets specifications described in the online license guide.

Qualifying agents who seek adjunct firearm certification will provide a copy of their Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) certificate. Those who hold status as peace officers will upload their recent score sheets.

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The licensing agency will correspond by email.

Applications are also available in print form on the PISGS website (

Applicants who seek firearm bearer certification will submit an additional form.

The licensing agency expedites processing for veterans and spouses.

Additional Information

Private Investigator Security Guard Services ( is under the banner of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The licensing agency can be reached by telephone at 614-466-0342.