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Guard Card Training: What You Need to Know

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Guard Card Training Advice For Newbies

So you’ve decided that you would like to become a security guard. Great! However, as you may have already found it, there are some important steps you need to take in order to become one— working as a security guard is not the same as just any other job.

Depending on what state you aim to work in, one of the most important things you will need to do is undergo guard card training. This training will end with you being issued a card that essentially validates you as someone with the necessary security guard skills. The more serious (and better paying) security guard jobs require a security guard card in order to apply, so where and how can you get one?

Obtaining a Security Guard Card

Security Guard
The fact is that guard card training requirements vary across the country (it mostly depends on where you live and where you wish to work). Fortunately, however, there are guard card training locations in just about every state. Some states have guard card training academies with multiple locations. One example is the Inland Empire, which has multiple locations around the state of California.

California is an exceptionally strict state when it comes to security guards, and almost all are required to have a guard card, or rather, a BSIS guard card. BSIS, which stands for the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, issues cards only to those applicants who have met certain guard card training requirements.

For example, a person wanting to be a security guard must complete a training program at a certified academy, successfully pass a background check and pay all applicable fees.

Regardless of the location, however, a standard guard card application will usually necessitate documents to verify age (most guard card training is open to people 18 or older) and photo identification, as well as a criminal background check and security papers, like fingerprinting. A valid, non-expired state driver’s license is also required in most places, and it may be also used to fulfill your photo identification requirement. Most legitimate guard card training facilities will help you obtain the necessary security paperwork.

The Training Requirements Usually Depend On the Location, Training Facility and Job Type

Kwik E-Mart Security Guard
Security guard training can be anywhere from eight required “pre-assignment” hours to over 40 total training hours, which includes pre-assignment ones as well as those gained while first out on the job. Guard card training also may also consist of different courses, though it of course depends on where you are training and where you will be working. For example, common classes are in terrorism awareness, public relations (community service) and observation and documentation.

Additional courses will depend on the exact type security job you end up getting or are applying for. Being a security guard at an international airport is going to be different from, say, a security guard at a private residence. Still, going for additional courses even when you may not be required to do so will look good on a resume and will help open up your options for future security guard jobs.

Taking a class in crowd control, for instance, will enable you to work at many concert and festival venues. Additionally, the more security certifications you have will come in handy if you are looking to apply for a police academy or other law enforcement position in the future. After all, being a security guard is a great first step to take, and the more experience you can get out of it, the better.

How Much Does All of This Cost?

By now you are probably wondering how much money you are going to have to shell out for guard card training. The exact price does vary, but the average guard card cost is anywhere between $80 and $200. Sometimes the flat fee will include additional ones like fingerprinting and BSIS registration fees (the BSIS Guard Card alone costs $50), but other times you will have to pay for these separately. Guard card training in the Inland Empire, for example, runs around $80, but new security guards will be charged an additional $116 for FBI, DOJ, fingerprinting and state BSIS fees to reach a total of $186.

When Should You Get Your Guard Card Before or After Applying For a Job?

Guard Card Training
There is some debate over whether it is better to get a job offer before heading to guard card training, or if you should wait until you are certified (have your card) to look for a job in security. Read the fine print on job postings, because many will specify what they are looking for in terms of certification. Additionally, look at when the potential employers are looking to hire someone. You may have some time to get your guard card before you even hear back from them.

Nevertheless, certain employers will help you get security guard card training and/or certification. Others may want you to undergo their own training courses to be part of their “customized” security team. For example, Securitas USA, a nationwide security company with employees in all levels of contract security, offers both classroom and on-the-job training to its employees.

Working for companies that supply security personnel rather than being directly hired by the location in which you are going to work can come with many benefits. For example, you can work in a wider variety of places. Should one of those places close, your parent security company will be able to just reassign you. Many security companies are more attuned to your needs than a general employer.

If you are planning on staying a security guard for a long period of time, know that you may have to renew your certification. Depending on where you work (being a security guard for the state or for a private company hold different requirements), you may just have to pay an annual renewal fee and submit any changed documents. However, some states, such as New York, require an annual “in service” class every year that will last around eight hours. These classes are usually pretty basic, however, and are just to keep your certification current. Be sure to talk with your employer, because they may pay for your guard card renewal, or allow you time off to get re-certified.


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