How to Become a Security Guard in 3 Simple Steps


What is a Security Guard

As funny as it is, Mall Cop doesn’t really tell the whole story on exactly how to become a security guard. In fact, it doesn’t nearly tell the half of it. A security guard is an important member of the law enforcement team in any location that has the responsibilities of:

  • Communicate closely with other law enforcement and emergency personnel
  • Keep an accurate record of daily occurrences
  • Monitor all of the security components of their location, including alarm systems, doors, and windows, to ensure proper security
  • Interview witnesses and/or serve as a court witness if needed
  • Patrol property regularly to ensure a proper level of security

Playing such a unique role in law enforcement and protection, security guards not only have several responsibilities but also have to commit to unique working situations, according to U.S. News Jobs Reports. Most guards work 12-hour shifts either throughout the day or overnight. Most teams are multi-manned but certain locations may only require one security professional. The individuals may work in a variety of locations, including casinos and gaming resorts, law enforcement facilities, museums, college campuses, and more.

The average salary of a security guard is $24,630.

What Does a Security Guard Do?

With such an important role in protecting the general population adequate training and preparation is essential for security guards, according to the National Careers Service. While it’s important for any security professional to be mature and trustworthy, individuals who want to progress in the field must possess these five essential characteristics or skills to be successful.


security guard is responsible for overseeing the safety of an entire facility, including the people and belongings inside. As such, it’s essential that these professionals stay focused and alert as much as possible or else they risk missing something. An officer who is unobservant runs the risk of missing a criminal in action.


A good security office must be full of integrity – someone who can be trusted and who will do the right thing in the heat of the moment. These individuals are responsible for securing access to buildings and protecting a business or facility against crime and theft. If an officer is not integrous and honest, he or she might put the company at risk or worse steal or damage the company in some way.

Physically Fit

Being physically fit is another important characteristic of an officer. An unfit guard may not be able to effectively perform the job, such as pursuing a potential criminal. According to research, being in good physical condition also enhances overall mental alertness as well. A security officer must also put forth a clean, professional demeanor, so being fit helps establish that level of professionalism as well.

Effective Communication Skills

Being an effective communicator, both in oral and written communication, is another important characteristic of a security guard. A security guard is responsible for keeping accurate records of daily happenings to keep track of anything that may be of importance. Being able to communicate effectively is an important component of that task. Likewise, a security guard may be responsible for serving as a witness or communicating to other law enforcement professionals in a number of different capacities, which makes effective oral communication important.

Detail Oriented

Being detail oriented and able to perform a variety of tasks is also essential for security professionals. These individuals are responsible for carrying out a number of different tasks to keep the business or other location secure, so having acute attention to detail is a necessity.
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what is a security guard

Becoming a Security Guard

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Security Guards

Most employers require no formal training beyond high school for security guards, as indicated by the College Toolkit. Even so, the more qualifications and preparation an individual may have situates them that much further ahead as a potential candidate. That preparation can begin as early as high school with key classes.

While course offerings may vary by school, important classes for security guard candidates to take include, psychology, civics, and communications.


Psychology is an important course for individuals to take as it will help prepare security guard candidates to recognize common patterns of behavior in individuals and may even help them in investigating a criminal as needed.


Civics is a course that includes the basic fundamentals of government and law, so it is important that individuals responsible for maintain safety and at some level law be fully aware of an individual’s rights and responsibilities.


Communication is an important part of the job of a security officer, so coursework in that field will help prepare the individual for presenting accurate and appropriate information effectively.

Step 2: Get Official Training

Security Services Certificate Program 3 weeks to 6 months

Some individual’s may choose to complete a security guard certificate program that involves curriculum in the basics of security as well as communication skills and ethical conduct. Typically, certain age and education requirements must be met before beginning such a program. Most certificate options require that individuals be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or equivalent for acceptance into the program. The required course hours per semester varies depending on the specific program.


Core Courses (10 Credits)

  • Security Awareness
    Investigation and Criminal Evidence
    Unarmed Security Guard Training
    Introduction to Security
    Contemporary Issues: Security

Elective Courses (2 Credits)

  • Armed Security Guard Training
    Special Topics in Security

The average cost of a security services certificate program is about $1,428 – $19,663′.

If you are thinking of joining a security services certificate program click below and discover the best programs close to you.
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Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Degree Program 2 years

An associate degree in criminal justice is another option to prepare for work as a security guard. This education option is typically a 2-year degree with 50 to 60 credits that involves such coursework as principles of criminal law and the U.S. constitution as well as juvenile justice, the penal system , and more. Most programs require that individuals have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and may have specific grade point average (GPA) requirements.


General Education Requirements (20 Credits)

  • American Literature I
  • Critical Thinking
  • Speech Communication
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • American Government
  • Introduction to Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Biology I
  • General Chemistry I
  • Earth Science
  • Principles of Classical Physical Science
  • Principles of Modern Physical Science
  • Algebra I
  • Finite Math
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus
  • English Composition I

Core Courses (20 Credits)

  • Practices & Theory of Law Enforcement
  • Practices & Theory of Corrections
  • Criminology
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Criminal Law
  • Judicial Process
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Principles of Public Speaking
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Corrections
  • Policing

Electives (12 Credits)

  • American Policing
  • Correctional Systems
  • Introduction to security
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice

The average cost of an associates degree in criminal justice program is about $12,600 – $33,390.

If you are thinking of joining an associates degree in criminal justice program click below and discover the best programs close to you.
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Step 3: Get Certified

In some states, individuals are required to pass a certification exam to become a certified guard. While the exact requirements of the exam vary by state, the exam typically covers the basic of public law, problem solving, communication and more. The price and length of the examination varies by state as well. The ASIS international offers the Certified Protection Professional credential that is one of the most recognizable certifications for security guards.


A bachelors degree and 7 years of working experience OR

9 years of working experience with 3 of them being a supervisor


200 multiple choice question written test.


$300 (members) – $450 (non-members)

How Long Does it Take to Become a Security Guard and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 3 weeks to 6 months$1,428 - $19,663
Certification -$300 - $450
Total 3 weeks to 6 months$1,728 - $20,113

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$12,600 - $33,390
Certification -$300 - $450
Total 2 years $12,900 - $33,840

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