What Certifications Are Needed To Become A Security Guard In California

What Certifications Are Needed To Become A Security Guard In California

Becoming a security guard in California is a great career path for professionals looking for more excitement and better pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the overall number of security guard job opportunities will increase 19 percent from 2010 to 2020.  The security guard job market offers a wide array of opportunity for those who are willing to follow the strict requirements set by the State of California.

Whether you plan to become a personal protection officer or obtain a concealed weapon permit, your training and certifications will be fundamental in preparing you to become a safe and successful security guard. The state of California requires the following training and certification for acquiring a security guard license, also known as a “guard card.” The following lists are what certifications are needed to become a security guard in California:


  • In order to obtain a security guard license, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Applications can be attained from private patrol operators or training facilities certified by BSIS.

  • Applicant must pass a detailed criminal history background check performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and BSIS.

  • First time applicants must complete an 8-hour “Power to Arrest” training course and pass an examination at the end of the course with a 100% score in accordance with the Manual’s Administering Instructions. The company providing the training will issue a Certificate of Completion to the applicant.

  • Applicant must submit a set of fingerprints using Live Scan, along with the application and ATI number.

  • Once the applicant passes the background check, he/she can start working as a security guard immediately until receiving an interim license.

  • He/she must complete another 16 hours of security training from a state certified company within 30 days of receiving the interim license.

  • Within the first six months of receiving the interim license, he/she must complete an additional 16 hours of training.

  • If the training isn’t completed in the given time frame, the security license can be revoked.


In order to obtain a firearm permit, applicants need to take these additional steps of training and certification:


  • Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or have a permanent legal alien status.

  • He/she must pass a 14-hour bureau-certified course on the carrying and use of firearms and pass the exams at the end of the course.

  • Applicant must submit a firearm permit application and send it to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.

  • Security guards must have their valid security guard registration and a valid photo I.D. while on duty.

Tom Tamar is the President & C.E.O. at City Wide Protection Services, Inc. The security firm specializes in a full range of security services, consultation and training. Tom is an active SDCAA supplier member and serves in several committees including the Legislative and Editorial Advisory Board.