The journey to becoming a security guard requires patience, dedication, and perseverance. Many states require intensive training, experience, and a passing score on a state exam in order for individuals to qualify as security guards. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about security guard tests and exams so you can be prepared when it’s time to take yours.
What is a Security Guard Test?
A security guard test is an examination or assessment that individuals must pass in order to become licensed or certified as a security guard in a given state. The specific content and requirements of the test can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the organization that oversees security guard licensing. Security guard tests can consist of written exams, practical assessments, or a combination of both, depending on the licensing requirements of the jurisdiction. Individuals wishing to become armed security guards must also pass a firearms test which demonstrates their ability to handle a weapon.
Do All States Require Licensing in Order to Become a Security Guard?
No, not all states require licensing in order to become a security guard. Security guard licensing requirements are determined at the state level, and they can vary significantly from one state to another. Some states have stringent licensing requirements, while others have relatively lax regulations or none at all. The decision to require licensing for security guards is typically made by individual state governments.
In states that do require licensing, the requirements often include completing a training program, passing a background check, and meeting certain age and citizenship/residency requirements in addition to passing a written exam. A separate firearms training and certification process is also required for aspiring armed security guards.
Check out our state-specific guides for more on licensing in your state:
- California Guard Card Requirements: How to Become a Security Guard in CA
- How to Become a Security Guard in Florida
- How to Become a Security Guard in Illinois
- How to Become a Security Guard in Texas
How Long is The Security Guard Test?
The length of a security guard test varies depending on several factors, including the jurisdiction, the specific content of the test, and whether it is a written or practical examination. In general, security guard exams typically include 50-100 questions and can take up to two hours to complete.
Here are a few factors that can influence the duration of a security guard test.
If the security guard test is a written exam, it typically consists of multiple-choice questions, true/false questions, and possibly essay questions. The length of a written test can vary widely, but it is often designed to be completed within a few hours.
In some cases, the security guard test may include a practical component where candidates are evaluated on their ability to perform specific security-related tasks, such as conducting a security patrol or responding to simulated security incidents. The duration of a practical exam can vary depending on the tasks being assessed.
Some security guard training programs include a final exam as part of the training curriculum. The length of these exams can vary but is often designed to be completed within a reasonable timeframe, such as a few hours.
The specific requirements for security guard testing are determined by the state or jurisdiction where the candidate is seeking licensure. State regulations may specify the duration and format of the test.
Where Do You Take The Test?
The location where you take a security guard test can vary depending on the organization or regulatory agency responsible for overseeing security guard licensing and certification in your area. Here are some common places where security guard tests may be administered.
Most states have designated testing centers or third-party testing providers where individuals can take their security guard exams. These centers are typically equipped to administer written and practical exams and are located in convenient locations statewide.
Some security guard training schools may also serve as testing centers. Candidates who have completed their training at these schools may have the option to take their exams on-site.
In some cases, written portions of security guard exams may be available online. Candidates can complete these exams from a computer with an internet connection. However, practical exams often require in-person evaluation.
Some states may require candidates to visit government offices, such as the Department of Public Safety or a similar agency, to take their security guard tests.
In certain situations, an employer may administer security guard tests on their own premises as part of the hiring process.
What Questions Are On the Test? (+ Example Questions)
The test questions will vary by state, though they will generally follow the subject matter below.
Legal and Ethical Knowledge
Security guards are expected to have a good understanding of the laws and regulations governing their profession within a given state. This includes knowledge of laws related to trespassing, use of force, and other security-related matters. They should also be familiar with ethical standards and codes of conduct.
- What are the legal implications of using excessive force in a security situation?
- Can security guards detain a person suspected of shoplifting without proper evidence? Explain.
- Under what circumstances is it legally justifiable for a security guard to use force in self-defense or to protect others?
- What steps should you take after using force in a security situation?
Security guards often need to respond to emergencies, so they may be tested on their knowledge of first aid, CPR, and other life-saving techniques.
- What is the primary objective when administering CPR to a victim?
- Describe the steps you would take in responding to a fire alarm in a commercial building.
Tests may cover various security procedures, such as access control, lockdown procedures, patrolling, and incident reporting. Guards are typically expected to know how to handle different security situations.
- What is the purpose of a security patrol? Explain the key components of an effective security patrol.
- How should security personnel handle access control at a secured facility?
Effective communication is essential for security personnel. Tests may evaluate a candidate's ability to communicate clearly and professionally, both in writing and verbally.
- List and explain the key elements of an incident report.
- How would you effectively communicate with a potentially hostile individual while maintaining safety and professionalism?
Use of Security Equipment
Security guards may be tested on their proficiency in using security equipment such as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, and communication devices.
- Describe the functions and operation of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.
- What are the basic steps to follow when searching a person for prohibited items at a security checkpoint?
Guards are often required to be observant and vigilant. A test may assess a candidate's ability to notice suspicious activity and report it accurately.
- In what situations should a security guard be especially vigilant when patrolling a parking garage?
- What are common signs of suspicious activity that security personnel should be trained to recognize?
Depending on the position, some security guard tests may include physical fitness assessments to ensure that candidates are physically capable of performing their duties.
In some cases, security guards who are authorized to carry firearms may need to pass a separate test on firearm safety, marksmanship, and use of force laws.
What is a Passing Security Guard Exam Score?
Since each security guard exam is different per state, the passing scores also differ. In general, security guard candidates are required to achieve a score of at least 70 percent in order to pass. Some states allow candidates to retake the exam once upon failing, while others have no limit on retaking the exam as long as the candidate is eligible.
Here are a few examples of passing scores and re-examination policies per state.
Texas Security Guard Exam
A score of 70 percent or greater is required to pass the Texas Security Guard exam. If they don’t pass the first time, applicants are allowed to take the test as often as the examination schedule allows within their 90-day application window.
Georgia Security Guard Exam
Prospective Georgia Security Guards must pass the exam with a score of 75 percent or higher. If applying to be an armed security guard, applicants must also pass a firearms test with a score of at least 80 percent.
Ohio Security Guard Exam
You must achieve a score of 70 percent to pass the Ohio Security Guard exam. If a 70 percent score is not achieved, the candidate may make one additional attempt at the state certification exam to achieve a passing score of 70 percent.
How to Prepare for Security Guard State Exams
Preparing for a security guard exam requires a combination of study, practice, and practical skills development. Here are some steps you can take to prepare effectively:
Understand the Exam Content
Review the specific exam outline or syllabus provided by the regulatory agency or training program. Understand the topics and skills that will be covered in the test.
Study Relevant Materials
Obtain study materials such as textbooks, training manuals, and online resources that cover the exam content. Make sure to use up-to-date materials.
Take a Formal Training Program
Enroll in a reputable security guard training program, if it is a requirement in your jurisdiction. These programs provide structured instruction and help you understand key concepts.
Create a Study Schedule
Plan your study time and create a schedule. Allocate enough time to cover all the topics you need to study before the exam.
Seek out practice exams or sample questions related to the security guard exam. Practicing with sample questions can help you become familiar with the format and types of questions you'll encounter.
Take a Prep Course
Some instructors and schools offer state exam prep courses to help prepare aspiring security guards for their exams. NITA is proud to offer comprehensive exam prep courses for security guards in Texas, Georgia, and Ohio in addition to the corresponding training programs for each state.
Ready, Set, Study
Ready to begin your career journey as a security guard? Partner with NITA! We can help with all your pre-license training as well as state exam prep. Best of all? Our courses are 100% online and 100% on demand, which means you can learn on your own time. With our accessible courses, you’ll be on your way to a successful security career in no time.
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