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Chris Ostrander

How to Become a Security Guard

A career as a security guard can be very rewarding, giving you the opportunity to work hard to protect the safety and security of those in your community. If you're interested in a job in security or law enforcement, it's important to have a good idea of the path ahead of you. This is a competitive field, and the right moves now will help set you up for success in the future.

Entry Level Education

Most employers require a minimum of a high school education if you want to become a security guard. This may be sufficient for an entry level position, though you will need to advance your education in the future if you want to climb this career ladder beyond the lowest rungs.

Depending on the job, you may also need experience with video surveillance technology. Patience, attention to detail, and strong observational skills are all important for security guards, so you should pursue any activity that will allow you to demonstrate these on your resume, whether that means participating in a volunteer organization, taking college electives, or gaining experience in a similar career field.

Security guards also need to demonstrate physical strength. Many jobs require that you stand or walk for your entire shift. You will also need the strength to handle emergency situations and potentially overpower offenders. 

Job Training

A great deal of security guard training takes place on the job. Most new hires will receive a few weeks' worth of training in their new position. This may range from an organized training program to a brief period shadowing another security guard.

There are several states that recommend a minimum of eight hours of training prior to receiving an assignment, another eight to 16 hours of training in that assigned position, and eight hours of refresher training each year. Armed guards will receive additional training in the proper use of their weapons.

Certification, Licensure, and Registration

If you're wondering how to become a security guard in a particular location, you should inquire about their individual training and hiring practices, as every setting looks for something different. If you're looking for a position as an armed guard, you will need to have the proper training and permits for your weapon. Many security guards need to have a driver's license to make rounds in their security vehicles.

Check with the Department of Justice in your state for information about security guard licensing in your locale. Some states require that all security guards be certified. Pursuing certifications and licensure that are applicable to security positions will always improve your employment possibilities, even if these aren't required.

At a minimum, you will need to pass a background check and drug test at most locations. You may also have to undergo fingerprinting. 

Continuing Education

If you want to get a promotion and work your way up to more lucrative positions in security, it's important to continue your education beyond your high school diploma. A Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma will give you a more in-depth understanding of law enforcement, preparing you for a job as a parole officer, probation officer, and more. An Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Studies will help you advance your career further, giving you a thorough education in the US court systems, correctional organizations, and security venues, both private and public.

With the right education and experience, you can land a satisfying career as a security officer. Those in the top 10 percent of their field earn more than $50,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Get ready to join the career force as a security professional and start looking into smart college courses today. 

  For more information on Bryant and Stratton College's programs for security guards or other criminal justice careers, call the Admissions office at 1.888.273.2758

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