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Can a Felon Get a Security Guard License?

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There are resources available for felons even if they don’t believe anyone will hire them. Those with an interest in security work may want to look into becoming a security guard.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can get a security guard license.

  • What is a Security Guard?
  • What is a Security Guard License?
  • What Is Required to Get a Security Guard License?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Security Guard?

A security guard patrols and monitors property to protect it against vandalism, theft, and illegal activity. A guard enforces laws and regulations, controlling access to a business, building, or other public or private area. A security guard ensures the safety of the general public as well as individuals and private property. Working as a security guard is similar to working as a police officer.

What Is a Security Guard License?

A license is issued by a state agency to practice a profession and is required in order to call oneself a licensed professional. A license shows that someone has a specific knowledge or skill necessary to do a job. Typically, these types of credentials are obtained after completing specific education.

Licenses are legally required by the government to work in an occupation. A license is:

  • Awarded by a government licensing agency
  • Give some legal authority to work in an occupation
  • Requires meeting certain criteria such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam

In order to work as a security guard, a license, often called a guard card, is typically required. A security guard license shows proper training and certification to work as a security guard.

What Is Required to Get a Security Guard License?

In order to obtain a security guard license, a person must have the following:

  • Documentation as a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a security job offer from a licensed security agency
  • Consent to a criminal background check, drug screening, and fingerprinting through the FBI
  • Letter from a security agency offering a job as a security guard
  • Enrollment and completion of an unarmed guard training course approved by the state
  • Take and pass an approved firearms training course
  • Complete an armed security guard registration application

A candidate is required to complete a training course and pass an exam. The minimum length of the training course is usually 40 hours. There is then an additional course, typically about eight hours long and often called a, “Power of Arrest.” The next step is to have fingerprints taken for submission to the FBI.

Achieving this type of security guard license permits someone to work as an unarmed security guard. Obtaining an armed guard card requires completing the unarmed guard card followed by taking a firearms training course approved by the particular state along with filling out an application for licensing as an armed security guard.

An Opportunity for Felons?

Felons who want to obtain a security guard license can apply to the Public Safety Commissioner in their state. Some states offer a certificate to felons that want to become a security guard. The following states offer a Certificate of Rehabilitation:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Virginia

A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court document stating that a person is obeying the laws and demonstrates good moral character. The rehabilitation certificate states that a felon is rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society or a disreputable person.

Other states will make a determination based on the type of felony and the length of time since the conviction. Depending on the state, a rehabilitation certificate can restore the rights to carry firearms.

A security guard service that hires a security guard must register that person with the Public Safety Commissioner. The commissioner is allowed to deny approval because of a felony conviction after consideration of certain factors.

The law prohibits the commissioner from approving someone who has been convicted of a:

  • Serious felony
  • Sexual offense
  • Crime that questions the person’s honesty and integrity

In order to deny an application because of a prior criminal history, the commissioner must determine that the applicant is unsuitable for the position based on the:

  • Nature of the crime, and its relation to the job
  • Information about the rehabilitation
  • Time since the sentence was completed

Some states, like Kentucky and Maine, do not require a license to work as a security guard. In many states, a license is required even if a person is working as an unarmed security guard. In Nevada, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, no felony convictions are allowed in order to work as a security guard.

Most states have strict statutes prohibiting candidates with felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude from obtaining a guard card. A crime of moral turpitude is one that violates the ethical standards of a community and involves betrayal of public trust.

It is important to be honest when applying for a security guard license. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check this constitutes fraud and is punishable by jail time. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in obtaining a security guard license, it is essential for felons to be honest about their backgrounds. They are already seen as being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a security guard license. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

Having your record expunged gives you the best chance of success as well as documenting additional education. This could make the essential difference.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. You are able to begin again, live an honest life, and achieve your goal no matter how difficult it might seem. After all, felons do make good employees.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a security guard license with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Can a Felon Get a Security Guard License?”

  1. I am a convicted felon who has been to prison twice and hasn’t been in trouble with the law since my release which was in October of 2018 I am not able to carry any firearms is there any way I can become a security guard or get my record expunged if so how do I do it and how much will it cost

  2. I am a convicted felon and have been to prison twice but haven’t been in any trouble since my release in 2019

  3. My son has a felony conviction that was forced on him in lieu of prison time. The county in which we live does this often as it keeps people tied to the courts, jails and probation departments which the person in question must then pay for monetarily. My son was a certified security guard before he got in trouble. He is now following all of his court ordered obligations. He has been hired as a security guard by a company that states their guards are private contractors. They now have asked for a background check. He is afraid he will lose his job which he loves, the people he protects are very happy with him and it allows him to give to our returning veterans. Is there anything he can do? We are in Washington County, Oregon. Thank you for any information you may have.

  4. To whomever this may concern.
    Im ah convicted felon,looking for ah full time job.I would really appreciate it if whomever is reading this,takes heed in my concern & lead me in the right direction please.
    Thank You!!!


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