Armed security guards play a vital role in protecting businesses, information, and personnel. If you're looking to step up your career as a security professional, becoming an armed security guard could be that next step. In this guide, you’ll learn all about the responsibilities of an armed security guard as well as the requirements needed in order to take your career to the next level.
What is an Armed Security Guard?
An armed security guard is a trained and licensed professional responsible for protecting people, property, and assets by using firearms or other weapons when necessary. These individuals are typically employed by various organizations and businesses to provide a higher level of security and protection against potential threats, such as theft, vandalism, or violence.
The role of an armed security guard typically includes but is not limited to the following responsibilities.
The mere presence of an armed guard can deter potential criminals or troublemakers from engaging in unlawful activities.
Guards may monitor entrances and exits, checking identification and ensuring only authorized personnel enter restricted areas.
Learn more: What is Physical Security?
Armed security guards often conduct regular patrols of a designated area, looking for any signs of suspicious activity or potential security breaches.
In the event of a security breach, an armed guard may be required to respond quickly to protect people and property, potentially using their weapons to do so.
Armed guards are trained to handle crisis situations, such as hostage situations or violent confrontations, to minimize harm and maintain order.
Learn more: Lockdown Procedures for the Workplace
Documentation of security incidents and activities is a crucial part of an armed security guard's duties, as it may be used as evidence or for future reference.
Learn more: Roles and Responsibilities of a Security Guard
What are the Requirements to Become an Armed Security Guard?
The requirements to become an armed security guard can vary depending on your location and the specific regulations in place, but here are some common steps and prerequisites you might encounter.
Minimum Age Requirement
You typically need to be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on local laws and regulations.
Criminal Background Check
You will likely undergo a thorough criminal background check to ensure you do not have a history of violent crimes, felonies, or other disqualifying offenses. A clean criminal record is typically a prerequisite.
High School Diploma or Equivalent
Most employers and licensing authorities require a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) as a minimum educational qualification.
You must complete specific training programs related to armed security work. The content and duration of these programs can vary by state but often include firearm safety, marksmanship, use-of-force laws, emergency response procedures, and conflict resolution.
Firearms Training and Certification
If you plan to carry a firearm as an armed security guard, you will need to complete firearms training and obtain the necessary permits and certifications. This often involves demonstrating proficiency in handling and safely using firearms. The specific firearm and training requirements can vary by state.
Many states in the United States require armed security guards to obtain a state-issued license or permit. To qualify for such a license, you will typically need to meet all the above requirements and pass a state-approved examination. The application process may also include submitting fingerprints for a background check.
In the United States, armed security guards who work at federal facilities or for federal agencies may need to meet additional federal requirements, such as obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and adhering to federal security regulations.
Armed security guards should be physically fit and capable of performing the duties required of them, which may include patrolling, responding to emergencies, and carrying and using firearms effectively.
Good Moral Character
Demonstrating good moral character and ethical conduct is often a requirement for becoming an armed security guard. You may be asked to provide character references or undergo interviews to assess your suitability for the role.
What Disqualifies You From Being an Armed Security Guard?
Disqualifications for becoming an armed security guard can vary by jurisdiction and employer, but certain common factors and circumstances can generally disqualify individuals from pursuing a career as an armed security guard. In addition to not meeting the requirements listed above, the following are common disqualifiers for potential security guards.
A history of certain criminal offenses can disqualify you from becoming an armed security guard. These offenses often include felonies, violent crimes, drug-related offenses, and crimes of moral turpitude. The severity of the offense and the time since the conviction can impact whether you are disqualified.
Mental Health Issues
A history of serious mental health issues or a current condition that may affect your ability to responsibly handle firearms and make sound judgments can be a disqualifier.
A history of substance abuse, including drug addiction or alcohol abuse, can be a disqualifying factor. Many jurisdictions and employers have strict policies regarding drug and alcohol use for armed security personnel.
If you have a dishonorable discharge from the military, it can disqualify you from certain security-related positions, including armed security guard roles.
Restraining Orders or Protective Orders
If you are subject to restraining orders or protective orders, particularly those related to domestic violence, it may disqualify you from becoming an armed security guard.
Some employers or licensing authorities may consider undischarged bankruptcy as a disqualifying factor, especially if it suggests financial instability.
Providing false information or falsifying documents during the application process can lead to disqualification.
Certain restrictions on firearms possession, such as being subject to a restraining order, a felony conviction, or certain misdemeanor convictions, can disqualify you from obtaining the necessary permits to carry a firearm as an armed security guard.
How Much Do Armed Security Guards Make?
As of August 2023, the median salary for an armed security guard in the U.S. is around $46,840, falling within a range of $41,231 on the lower end and $53,568 on the higher end. In some areas of the country, the salary could be even lower or higher. The salary of security guards in the United States can vary widely depending on several factors, including location, level of experience, the specific employer, and the responsibilities of the job.
Geographic location plays a significant role in determining a security guard's salary. In general, urban areas and regions with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher salaries. For example, security guards in major cities may earn more than those in rural areas.
Additionally, the industry in which you work can affect your pay. Armed security guards are employed in various sectors, including healthcare, education, transportation, government, and private security firms. Some industries may offer higher wages due to the nature of the work or the level of responsibility involved.
You can check out the salary breakdown per state by referencing the following guides:
- Illinois Security Guard Salary Guide (Armed + Unarmed)
- Florida Security Guard Salary Guide: Armed vs. Unarmed
How to Become an Armed Security Guard
You typically need a license or permit to become an armed security guard in the United States. The specific requirements for licensing can vary by state and sometimes even by local jurisdiction. Here's a general overview of the licensing process for armed security guards, though keep in mind the process will vary state by state.
Meet Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a security guard license, you need to meet the basic requirements, such as being at least 18 or 21 years old, having a clean criminal record (free from disqualifying convictions), and having a high school diploma or equivalent.
Complete Required Training
You are usually required to complete a state-approved training program for armed security guards. This training covers topics such as firearm safety, marksmanship, use-of-force laws, emergency response procedures, and conflict resolution. The duration and content of the training can vary by state.
Firearms Training and Certification
Armed security guards need to complete specific firearms training and obtain the necessary certifications. This often involves demonstrating proficiency in handling and safely using firearms. The firearm and training requirements can vary by state.
Submit an Application
You will need to submit an application for a security guard license to the relevant state or local licensing authority. This application typically includes personal information, proof of completed training, and other required documentation.
Fingerprinting and Background Check
Many states require applicants to undergo fingerprinting and a comprehensive criminal background check as part of the licensing process. A criminal history that includes disqualifying offenses can result in a denial of the license.
Pass State Exam
Some states require applicants to pass a state-administered examination on topics related to security guard duties, state laws, and regulations.
Pay Licensing Fees
There are usually fees associated with the application process and obtaining a security guard license. These fees can vary widely by location.
Armed Security Guard Process by State
As mentioned, the process for becoming an armed security guard varies by state. To get a jump start on the process in your state, reference the following state-specific guides below.
- How to Become a Security Guard in California
- How to Become a Security Guard in Florida
- How to Become a Security Guard in Illinois
- How to Become a Security Guard in Texas
Start Your Career as a Security Professional Today
At NITA, we offer several courses for prospective security professionals to help them prepare for state licensing exams and more. All our courses are 100% online and on-demand, allowing you to prepare for your new career on your own time and at your own pace. We also offer continuing education and professional development courses so you can enrich your career and achieve new heights. We wish you luck in your journey to become an armed security guard!
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