Security Guard Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina regulates security businesses and the security officers that they employ. Contract security businesses are licensed. Proprietary companies are licensed as proprietary security businesses if they seek the services of security officers who are uniformed, licensed, and/ or have limited arrest powers. (Proprietary companies are free to employ gatekeepers or security officers provided they do not wear uniforms and are not granted regulated powers.)

Employees are issued registration. The chief executive officer or other designee is evaluated as part of the security business license application process.

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Requirements for Security Officers in South Carolina

Security guard employees must be citizens at least 18 years of age. They cannot use illegal drugs and cannot use alcohol in a way that negatively impacts performance; a drug test will be required. Security officers must demonstrate good character. They cannot have been convicted of felonies or crimes of moral turpitude. They cannot have been discharged from the armed forces for less than honorable reasons. A person who has been denied licensure for reasons other than lack of experience is ineligible for licensing.

The security guard will need to complete, at minimum, four hours of basic training. The standard basic training is completed through a certified training officer. The security officer may instead pursue alternate basic training. An alternate basic training program must be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency and approved by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The security officer will also need two hours of orientation and training by a company trainer. A security officer who completes an alternative program will obtain an identification card identifying him or her as a certified private security officer.

An unarmed security officer may perform services for a limited time period pending registration. Security officer registration is renewed annually; the employee must continue to meet Board standards.

Security officer may also be registered on a temporary basis for special events.

Requirements for Armed Security Officers

Armed guards must be at least 21 years of age and must be eligible to possess firearms.

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They will need training in firearm safety and liability, both on and off duty. They will also need to demonstrate proficiency in the particular type of firearm that they will be using. A prospective armed guard will fire an approved qualification course; there are separate standards for revolvers and auto-pistols.

Requirements for Arrest Powers

A security officer may be granted the power to make arrests on the particular property he or she has been hired to protect. In order to be granted limited arrest powers, a security officer must have four hours of additional instruction. The course must cover, at minimum, legal issues and procedures and techniques. Instruction in legal issues must cover laws of arrest and search and seizure. The training officer will need to sign.

The Employee Application Process

Employee application forms can be downloaded from the SLED website (

The prospective security officer will provide a ten year employment history. He or she will provide an arrest record (if applicable) that includes all incidents, including traffic citations; parking tickets are to be omitted.

SLED will need a copy of drug test results.

An applicant who has a serious medical or physical condition, including epilepsy or diabetes, is asked to submit a doctor’s statement.

The applicant will sign a release authorizing various organizations to provide information to the licensing agency. The application form requires notarization.

The licensing agency will require fingerprints.

The fee is $65 for an unarmed security officer, $110 for an armed security officer. A security officer who is originally registered as unarmed may upgrade for a $45 fee.

Applications are sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in Columbia.

Requirements for Proprietors and Chief Executive Officers

A sole proprietor or self-employed security officer must meet licensing requirements. In the case of a corporation, the highest executive officer or other designated officer must meet licensing requirements.

The professional must be at least 21 and have earned a high school diploma or the equivalent. He or she must meet the same character and fitness requirements that guards are required to meet.

Professionals who head contract security companies need two years of experience in security or law enforcement. Security experience may be with a licensed or SLED-approved company.

Experience is not listed as a statutory requirement for professionals who request licensing as proprietary security business (

The Business/ Executive Officer Application Process

Executive officers submit their materials as part of the license application process. License applications are also available from SLED (

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The applicant will submit two fingerprint cards. An applicant with a military history will submit DD-214.

The applicant will submit evidence of a $10,000 bond.

In 2015, the licensing agency implemented a new policy requiring prospective licensees to submit photographs in digital form. Photos must be in jpeg format. They can be submitted in any of three ways; on compact disk, through email, or via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). Applicants who wish to use SFTP are directed to call the SLED technology help desk at 803-896-8588.

Additional Information

Licensing and registration information is available from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The Division can be reached by telephone at (803) 737-9000.

Laws ( and regulations ( can be accessed online.