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Your Guide to Securing a Guard Card in California

Last Updated February 12, 2024

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By VPS_admin

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Requirements for Obtaining a Guard Card in California

To obtain a Guard Card in California, individuals must meet specific requirements set forth by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). These requirements ensure that security guards are adequately trained and qualified to perform their duties. Here are the key prerequisites:

1. Criminal Background Check

Applicants must undergo a thorough criminal background check conducted by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Any convictions or felonies may impact eligibility.

2. Age Requirement

Candidates must be at least 18 years old to apply for a Guard Card in California.

3. Completion of Required Training Courses

Individuals must complete the mandatory training courses, including:

Powers to Arrest

This course covers the legal and ethical aspects of making an arrest, understanding a citizen’s arrest, and the use of force.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) & Terrorism Awareness

This course educates security guards on recognizing and responding to potential terrorist threats.

Chemical Agents (Pepper Spray) Certification (if applicable)

For those who wish to carry chemical agents, additional certification is required.

4. Submission of Guard Card Application

Applicants must submit a completed Guard Card application to the BSIS along with the appropriate fees. This initiates the licensing process.

5. Fingerprinting Process

Fingerprints are required to be submitted for a criminal background check. This is a crucial step in the application process.

6. Proof of Legal Residency

Applicants must provide documentation proving legal residency or authorization to work in the United States.

7. Continuing Education

After obtaining a Guard Card, security guards must complete ongoing training to maintain their eligibility and stay updated on industry best practices.

What disqualifies you from getting a Guard Card in California

1. Criminal Convictions

Having certain criminal convictions on your record may lead to disqualification from obtaining a Guard Card. This includes felonies, crimes involving moral turpitude, and offenses related to dishonesty or violence.

2. Outstanding Warrants or Pending Charges

Individuals with outstanding warrants or pending criminal charges may be denied a Guard Card until those legal matters are resolved.

3. False Information on Application

Providing false or misleading information on the Guard Card application is a serious offense. This includes inaccuracies about criminal history, residency status, or other relevant details.

4. Mental Health Issues

Severe mental health conditions or a history of violent behavior due to mental health issues may lead to disqualification.

5. Drug or Alcohol Abuse

Evidence of current or recent substance abuse issues can be grounds for denial. This is to ensure that security guards are in a fit mental and physical state to perform their duties responsibly.

6. Failure to Complete Required Training

Not completing the mandatory training courses, including Powers to Arrest and WMD & Terrorism Awareness, will result in disqualification.

7. Lack of Legal Residency or Authorization to Work

Individuals who do not have legal residency or proper authorization to work in the United States are ineligible for a Guard Card.

8. Violation of Probation or Parole

Individuals who are currently on probation or parole may not be eligible for a Guard Card until they have completed their probationary period.

9. Dishonorable Discharge from the Military

A dishonorable discharge from the military may lead to disqualification from obtaining a Guard Card.

10. Failure to Meet Age Requirement

Applicants who are under the age of 18 are not eligible for a Guard Card in California.

It’s crucial for aspiring security guards to be aware of these potential disqualifications and take appropriate steps to address any relevant issues before applying for a Guard Card. Meeting the eligibility criteria is essential to obtaining and maintaining a valid Guard Card in California.

How much does it cost to get a Guard Card in California?

Approximate Costs:

Application Fee: This typically ranges from $50 to $100.

Live Scan Fingerprinting: Around $70, including both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks.

Guard Card Training Course: Prices vary, but expect to pay between $50 to $200.

California Guard Card (BSIS) Fee: This is around $80.

Total Approximate Cost:

Approximately $250 to $450

Please note that these are approximate costs and can vary based on factors such as the training provider, location, and additional fees that may be applicable. It’s advisable to check with authorized training facilities and the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) for the most up-to-date information on fees and requirements.

Guard Card In California


Application Process for Guard Card

1. Meet Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a Guard Card in California, you must be at least 18 years old, have legal residency or citizenship, and possess a valid Social Security number. If you meet these criteria, you’re on the right track.

2. Complete Required Training

Enroll in accredited training courses from a BSIS-approved facility. These courses typically include a minimum of 40 hours of instruction, covering topics like Powers to Arrest and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) & Terrorism Awareness. Fees for these courses can range from $100 to $300.

3. Get Fingerprinted

Schedule an appointment with a Live Scan provider. The Live Scan fee is approximately $70, though prices may vary. Ensure that you bring a valid ID with you.

4. Obtain Passport-Sized Photos

You’ll need two recent passport-sized photos, adhering to BSIS specifications. Many photography studios and some post offices offer this service.

5. Fill Out Guard Card Application

Obtain the Guard Card application form from the BSIS website. Make sure to complete it accurately and truthfully. You can download it or request a physical copy from the BSIS directly.

6. Pay Application Fee

The application fee for a Guard Card is around $50. You can pay by check, money order, or credit card. Double-check the current fee with the BSIS, as it may change over time.

7. Submit Live Scan Results

Include your Live Scan results with your application. These documents are crucial for the background check process. If you need assistance finding a Live Scan provider, contact the BSIS or visit their website for a list of approved locations.

8. Wait for Application Processing

Application processing times can vary, but typically take several weeks. It’s advisable to check the status of your application through the BSIS website or by contacting their customer service.

9. Receive Guard Card

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your Guard Card in the mail. It’s crucial to carry this card with you while on duty.

10. Begin Employment as a Security Guard

With your Guard Card in hand, you’re legally eligible to work as a security guard in California. If you have any questions about maintaining your Guard Card or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the BSIS directly or visit their website for additional resources and information.

Why Get a Guard Card in California?

If you’re considering a career in security, obtaining a Guard Card in California is a crucial step towards a rewarding and impactful profession. Here’s why:

Diverse Job Opportunities

California boasts a wide array of industries, each with its own unique security needs. From retail establishments to corporate offices, event venues to construction sites, the demand for trained security personnel is ever-present.

Competitive Salary and Benefits

Security guards in California can earn a competitive salary, and many employers offer additional benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and opportunities for advancement within the field.

Job Security and Stability

As a security guard, you play a vital role in safeguarding people, property, and assets. This level of responsibility translates into consistent job demand, providing stability in an ever-changing job market.

Opportunities for Growth

With the right training and dedication, security guards can advance their careers into supervisory roles or specialize in areas like executive protection, loss prevention, or cybersecurity.

Public Safety Contribution

Working as a security guard allows you to actively contribute to public safety

Your presence and vigilance help deter criminal activity, ensuring a safer environment for everyone.

Personal Development and Skills Enhancement

The training and experience gained as a security guard can be invaluable. You’ll develop skills in conflict resolution, communication, crisis management, and emergency response—skills that are transferable to various industries.

Fulfilling Work

Knowing that you’re making a tangible difference in the safety and security of others can be immensely gratifying. It’s a profession that offers a sense of purpose and pride.

Guard Card In California


How to get a guard card for free?

We got a lot of question about how to get a guard card for free in California. While obtaining a guard card (security guard license) for free is uncommon, individuals can explore cost-minimizing options. Employer sponsorship, government programs, and nonprofit organizations may provide financial assistance or scholarships for training. Community colleges, training centers, and online platforms might offer more affordable courses. Workforce development programs and initiatives supporting military veterans transitioning to civilian employment are additional avenues to explore. It’s crucial to verify the legitimacy and accreditation of any training program and to be cautious of potential scams.

What disqualifies you from getting a guard card in California?

In California, several factors can disqualify individuals from obtaining a guard card, including criminal convictions (especially felonies involving violence or dishonesty), domestic violence convictions, active restraining orders, mental health issues that may impair job responsibilities, ongoing substance abuse problems, providing false information on the application, failure to complete required training, and illegal immigration status. The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) reviews each application case by case, and while the presence of disqualifying factors doesn’t automatically result in rejection, individuals should contact the BSIS or seek legal advice for guidance based on their specific situation, as eligibility criteria may change over time.

Can a felon get a guard card in California?

In California, individuals with felony convictions may still be eligible to obtain a guard card (security guard license), but it depends on the nature of the felony and how much time has passed since the conviction. The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) reviews applications on a case-by-case basis.

Certain felonies, especially those involving violence, dishonesty, or moral turpitude, may pose a greater challenge to obtaining a guard card. However, the BSIS takes into consideration factors such as rehabilitation, the passage of time since the conviction, and other mitigating circumstances.

It’s crucial for individuals with felony convictions to be honest and thorough when disclosing their criminal history on the application. Falsifying information can lead to automatic disqualification. If you have a felony conviction and are considering applying for a guard card, it is advisable to contact the BSIS directly or seek legal advice to understand the specific eligibility criteria and potential challenges based on your circumstances.


In conclusion, becoming a security guard in California and obtaining your Guard Card opens the door to a dynamic and fulfilling career. With a strong demand for trained professionals across diverse industries, competitive salaries, and opportunities for growth, it’s a profession that offers both job security and personal satisfaction. So, if you’re ready to embark on a path that combines responsibility, impact, and personal development, obtaining your Guard Card is a crucial first step. Don’t hesitate—start your journey towards a rewarding career in security today.

Join VP Security Guards for a career that prioritizes your growth and values your dedication. We foster a culture of excellence and provide opportunities for skill development. With us, you’re not just an employee; you’re a crucial part of a team committed to safety and security. We offer a supportive environment that encourages initiative and offers room for advancement. Your contributions will be recognized and valued, ensuring a fulfilling professional journey. At VP Security Guard Company, you’ll find more than just a job—you’ll find a platform to thrive and make a real impact. Join us and be a part of something meaningful.

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