How do I get a California Security Guard Card License?

All professional security guards that work in the state of California must be licensed and registered with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). To be properly licensed, the security guard must complete a standard course in the powers of arrest, weapons of mass destruction/ terrorism awareness, public relations, observation and documentation, Communication and its Significance, Liability/Legal Aspects and other elective courses that vary depending upon the training facility.

The BSIS requires an entire 40-hours of training. However, the training may be completed in three (3) parts. The training is split into parts to allow the guard to start working quickly, while still maintaining some of the highest standards in the industry.

The applicant is allowed to start working after successfully completing the first 8-hours of training (called the "Powers to Arrest" course), passing a written exam, passing a fingerprint/background check and submitting the BSIS application with appropriate fees.

The certificates of completion for the remaining 32-hours of training (Parts 2 and 3) are not sent to the BSIS. They are copied and logged by the employer in the permanent employee records. During an audit, the employer must present the BSIS with proof of complete 40-hours of training for every security guard employed or face severe fines for every guard who has not completed the required training.

The applicant may not start working as a security guard until he or she receives the security guard registration card in the mail, or the security guard registration number appears on the BSIS website. Most employers will not even interview a prospective employee unless he or she already holds at least the guard card.

California allows guard card training to be completed online.

Security Training Center,® LLC. offers guard card training online and at our multiple training facilities. In-person (live) training prices can be found here.

BSIS Business and Professions Code, §7583-7583.46

§7583.6. (a) A person entering the employ of a licensee to perform the functions of a security guard or a security patrolperson shall complete a course in the exercise of the power to arrest prior to being assigned to a duty location.
(b) Except for a registrant who has completed the course of training required by §7583.45, a person registered pursuant to this chapter shall complete not less than 32 hours of training in security officer skills within six months from the date the registration card is issued. Sixteen of the 32 hours shall be completed within 30 days from the date the registration card is issued.

Three (3) Steps to Earning Your California BSIS Guard Card

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Step 1: Complete Mandatory Training

Complete the guard card training course, either the entry 8-hour course or the complete 40-hour package.

The 8-hour course and Guard Card allow you to work, but they are not the end of the training requirement.

Upon successful completion of the first 8-hours of coursework and exams, students can apply to the BSIS for their guard card.

Step 2: Live Scan Fingerprints and Background Checks

Locate a local Live Scan Operator, take the filled-out Live Scan forms to the operator and complete the scanning process. The Live Scan Operator will collect the FBI and DOJ fees, plus a "rolling" service fee.

Be certain to collect a copy of the completed Live Scan form and ensure the ATI number located on the bottom of the form is legible. A copy of this completed form must be mailed with the application!

Step 3: Mail forms and fees to the BSIS

Once the forms are completed, the final step is to mail all of the forms and fees to the State.

Package must include:

  • Copy of the completed and signed Live Scan form
  • Completed and signed Guard Application form
  • Guard Application Fee of $50 (which is a check or money order)
  • Do NOT include the application fee if you already paid online.

The BSIS normally takes 4-6 to process new applications.

Guard Card Training Timelines

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You may stand post after an eight-hour course and receiving your Guard Card from the State of California. Afterwards, you have 30-days to complete your first sixteen hours of training and then another six months to complete the remaining sixteen hours (for a total of forty hours of training). You may elect to take all forty-hours of Security Guard Card training at one time.

BSIS Initial Training Course Timelines

Requirements to Become an Unarmed Security Guard

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The general requirements for a Security Guard are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Undergo a criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and
  • Complete a 40-hour course of required training.

There is no citizenship requirement to be an unarmed security guard in California. Employment requirements still apply.

Convictions

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We receive many questions from potential students who have convictions who want to work as security guards. We cannot offer legal advice and cannot guarantee that the BSIS will issue a Security Guard Registration Card. We have been informed that the BSIS will not discuss specific cases prior to receiving a formal guard application and all fees have been paid. This requires that at least the 8-hour "Power to Arrest" course be completed, plus a Live Scan and Application fees. Therefore, the estimated costs to determine if the person with a conviction is even eligible to work as a security guard is approximately $143.

All applicants with convictions will have their applications sent to the Disciplinary Review Committee. This may add up to 120 days of processing time to the application.

From the Application For Security Guard Registration:

Be sure to answer all questions on the application completely and truthfully. Any omission or false statement on the application may constitute grounds for denial or subsequent revocation of the registration.

A registration may be denied to any person who makes a false statement or who has been convicted of any crime or act substantially related to the functions or duties of a security guard. However, the Bureau will consider evidence of rehabilitation.

Question 7 on the Application for Security Guard Registration asks:

7.a Have you ever been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to ANY criminal or civil offense in the United States, it’s territories, or a foreign country? This includes every citation, infraction, misdemeanor and/or felony. Convictions that were adjudicated in the juvenile court or convictions under California Health and Safety Code sections 11357(b), (c), (d), (e) or section 11360(b) which are two years or older, as well as criminal charges dismissed under section 1000.3 of the Penal Code or equivalent non-California laws, should NOT be reported. Convictions that were later dismissed pursuant to sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, or 1203.41 of the California Penal Code or equivalent non-California law MUST be disclosed. YES/NO

7.b Is any criminal action pending against you, or are you currently awaiting judgment and sentencing following entry of a plea or jury verdict? YES/NO

More information can be found here:
Frequently Asked Questions - Informal Review before the Disciplinary Review Committee (DRC)

Firearms Permits and Convictions

Source: BSIS Firearms Training Manual (2012)

FELONS, PROHIBITED MISDEMEANORS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROHIBITIONS:

Instructors are to specifically inform each student that a firearm permit shall not be issued by the Bureau to a person who has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor that prohibits the person from carrying or possessing a firearm.

Specifically, the Bureau SHALL NOT issue a firearm permit to: A convicted felon (Business and Professions Code Section 7583.24(a); Penal Code Sections 29800, 29810, 29900, 29905), to a person convicted of a misdemeanor who is prohibited from possession of a firearm for a period of 10 years (Penal Code Section 29805 and 29810); nor to an individual with a history of domestic violence or who is subject to a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) - (Penal Code Section 18250)

Students may also be denied a firearm permit if they have been convicted of a crime of violence (Penal Code Section 29905), such as assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon, or a weapons violation, such as brandishing a weapon, illegal possession of and/or discharge of a weapon or carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed weapon permit.

Firearms Permits and Convictions

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Souce: BSIS Firearms Training Manual (2012)

FELONS, PROHIBITED MISDEMEANORS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROHIBITIONS:

Instructors are to specifically inform each student that a firearm permit shall not be issued by the Bureau to a person who has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor that prohibits the person from carrying or possessing a firearm.

Specifically, the Bureau SHALL NOT issue a firearm permit to: A convicted felon (Business and Professions Code Section 7583.24(a); Penal Code Sections 29800, 29810, 29900, 29905), to a person convicted of a misdemeanor who is prohibited from possession of a firearm for a period of 10 years (Penal Code Section 29805 and 29810); nor to an individual with a history of domestic violence or who is subject to a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) - (Penal Code Section 18250)

Students may also be denied a firearm permit if they have been convicted of a crime of violence (Penal Code Section 29905), such as assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon, or a weapons violation, such as brandishing a weapon, illegal possession of and/or discharge of a weapon or carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed weapon permit.

Continuing Education

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The BSIS requires security guards complete an annual Continuing Education/Refresher course every year.

"The continuing education requirement, of an additional 8 hours annually pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 7583.6(f) (1), commenced on January 5, 2005."

The certificates of completion for the continuing education courses are maintained by the employer and not sent to the BSIS. During an audit, the employer must present the BSIS with proof of continuing education training for every security guard employed or face severe fines for every guard who has not completed the required training.