How to Become a Security Guard in Washington

How to Become a Security Guard in Washington

Becoming a security guard in Washington is an excellent way to open up dozens of career possibilities. Rising property crime rates are affecting communities from Seattle to Spokane and everywhere in between. Across the Evergreen State, organizations increasingly rely on private security for risk management and loss prevention strategies.

Qualified security personnel are in high demand as a result, with armed and unarmed security guards deployed to residential and commercial properties all over Washington State. To help you navigate your path to working as a licensed guard, we’ve put together this guide on how to become a security guard in Washington.

How To Get A Security Guard License In Washington 

Starting a career as a security officer varies somewhat depending on the state you intend to operate in. To obtain a security guard license in Washington, you’ll need to meet a few basic criteria and pass a test given by a certified instructor before submitting your application to the state licensing body.

Meeting the basic criteria for a security guard license in Washington involves a bit of a chicken-v-egg problem. You’ll need to be employed as a security guard – or have an offer of employment from a registered security company – before you can apply for your license.

The State of Washington wants prospective guards to follow a specific order of operations to obtain their “guard cards.” Our guide will help you prepare for some of the trickier aspects of this process, and ensure you are ready to start looking for security guard employment in Washington.

TGA Guard with text graphic overlay

Basic Criteria For Prospective Security Guards in Washington

In order to become a licensed security guard in Washington, you’ll need to meet a few basic criteria. As outlined by the State Legislature, applicants must meet the following requirements to obtain a private security guard license:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a US citizen or Resident Alien (Green Card Holder)
  • Pass a Criminal Record Check
  • Be employed or have an offer of employment from a licensed private security company
  • Satisfy training requirements
  • Submit a set of fingerprints
  • Pay a non-refundable fee (about $100)
  • Submit a completed application

The fourth item is a bit tricky – after all, how can you get employed as a security guard if you do not yet have a license? Since this is standard practice in Washington, many security companies operating in the state will issue employment offers to folks who still need their licenses. Those individuals will need to be good all-around candidates who are currently training to become guards. Also, some private security companies may provide prospective guards with in-house training. Former police officers and military veterans will have an advantage – relying on prior training that far exceeds the requirements for security guards.

In short, the order of operations for becoming a security guard in Washington should be to first take a certified training course, then seek out employment opportunities, and finally submit a license application once all criteria are met. We’ll cover certified training courses in detail in the next section of this guide.

Training Requirements For Washington Security Guards

As stated in the previous section, you must satisfy some training requirements to become a licensed security guard in Washington. Trainers must also obtain a state license to operate in Washington, so be sure to take your training from a properly accredited individual or organization. Training can be taken online or in person, and it is generally recommended that prospective guards get as much hands-on instruction from experienced security professionals as they can.

State licensing requirements demand that aspiring security guards be educated and tested on the following topics:

1. Basic Principles 

Prospective guards are expected to know their roles, duties, and responsibilities. You’ll need to know the basics about guard licensing in Washington, how to properly observe premises, and Homeland Security guidelines for reporting threats to authorities. The State of Washington relies  on the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Protection Officers Training Manual for guidelines on best practices.

2. Report Writing 

Reporting day-to-day observations to clients – and severe matters to local authorities – is essential to your role as a security guard in Washington. Your reports could inform a client’s risk management strategy, establish liability during an insurance claim, or even appear as evidence in a criminal trial. The State, therefore, requires reports to be in keeping with best practices established by OSHA, MSDS, and the Protection Officers Training Manual.

3. Safety and Accident Prevention

Security guards in Washington must take a basic First Aid course. Additional First Aid training will prove useful in the field, but is not a requirement. Guards must also be familiar with MSDS hazardous material labels to prevent accidents. Knowledge of both First Aid and hazardous materials ensures that guards can respond quickly, whether intervening themselves, or reporting accidents to the appropriate authorities.

4. Emergency Response 

Security guards do not provide life-saving care during emergencies, but are expected to observe and report situations to authorities so that proper care can be provided quickly. You’ll need to know how to respond to fires, medical emergencies, and criminality in accordance with your role and the safety of everyone on-site. Having first aid training beyond the minimum requirements will prove valuable in a crisis, and make it easier for you to find work as a security guard in Washington.

5. Legal Powers and Limitations 

Knowing what not to do as a security guard is very important. When training as a security guard in Washington, you must understand the limits of your role: what situations you can handle, and when authorities will need to be called. The State of Washington has specific laws that regulate private security guards. Your instructor will ensure you are educated and tested on the legal requirements for security guards in the field.

Two TGA guards with text and graphic overlay

Submit The ‘Private Security Guard Initial License Application’

If you’ve followed this guide to the letter, by now you’ve completed a state-approved training course, and have met all of the basic criteria outlined previously. This next step, as already mentioned, is somewhat unique to the State of Washington – you’ll need to start looking at employment opportunities before submitting your application for a security guard license.

If you’ve taken your training from a reputable company, they should be able to assist you through this process. Ideally, they’ll offer in-house employment opportunities, or connect you with security guard companies in their network. If there are no opportunities from your training provider, go ahead and apply for local guard jobs in Washington State.

Employers are familiar with state requirements. If you’ve completed an accredited training course, security guard companies can provide an employment offer that you can submit to the state licensing authority as part of your application. Once again, any training you take beyond the bare minimum will increase the chances that a prospective employer will offer a job.

Complete the security guard application form and submit it along with any required supporting documents. Security guard licenses in Washington must be renewed annually: a straightforward process that includes another marginal fee and confirmation that you’ve committed no crimes in the past 12 months. There are additional criteria if you want to get licensed as an armed security guard in Washington – the next section of this guide will describe those requirements in more detail.

Explore Armed Security Opportunities in Washington

Armed security guards in Washington need to meet additional criteria to prove they can responsibly handle firearms as part of their duties. Security guard companies typically charge more for armed guards – getting certified to work as an armed security guard can lead to more lucrative job opportunities.

To receive the “Armed Endorsement” on your Washington State Security Guard License, you’ll need to:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Pass the 8-hour firearms course certified by the Criminal Justice Training Commission
  • Attain a separate “Proof of Alien Firearm License” if you are a Green Card Holder

There is no separate application for armed guards. Candidates need only submit the additional requirements as supplementary documents alongside their “Private Security Guard Initial License Application.”

TGA guard in front of company vehicle

Become a Security Guard in Washington With The Guard Alliance

Top-tier security companies in Washington will prefer to hire licensed guards with prior experience. In addition, the State recommends a list of topics for ongoing education, encouraging all security guards in Washington to develop their skills over time. This leads to better guard deployments, and more opportunities for individual guards to connect with higher-paying positions.

The Guard Alliance Inc has been proud to serve communities in the Evergreen State for over ten years. As a private security company providing armed, unarmed, vehicle, and fire watch security services, we maintain a roster of experienced security professionals who can deploy to most communities in Washington within hours. If you’d like to join our growing team, visit the Careers page on our website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *