According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational requirements and job training programs for private security are dependent on the type of private security business in which one works (www.bls.gov). A 2- or 4-year degree in criminal justice is usually adequate to begin in many areas of private security, while a master's degree might be needed for those in corporate security. Unarmed guards may require only a high school diploma, the BLS states. Job training programs are tailored to the type of security work being conducted. Those in insurance fraud, for instance, will not participate in as detailed a training program as those in corporate investigations. Some schools provide online programs.
Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice
A 2-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Criminal Justice degree program provides students with the fundamentals needed to begin a career in many areas of criminal justice, including private security. Some course topics in these programs include:
- Ethics and the criminal justice leader
- Intro to criminal justice
- Judicial administration
- International criminal justice
- Criminal law
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice
A 4-year degree program in criminal justice typically results in a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Courses in psychology, sociology, communications and statistics are generally included in the curriculum for a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice. Other program coursework includes:
- Homeland security
- Emergency management
- Security planning
- Public safety management
- Risk management
Master's Degree in Criminal Justice
A Master of Science requires a bachelor's degree and can be pursued in criminal justice or in security management. These programs develop leadership skills needed in security administration and management. Research methods and theories in criminal justice and criminology are studied. The curriculum might also include topical seminars and independent study. Some course topics might include:
- Analytical methods
- White-collar crime
- Project management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, security guards make a mean annual wage of $28,460 as of May 2015. The job outlook from 2014-2024 for security guards is expected to grow 5%, which is as fast as the average for all other occupations.
Most states require that individuals and companies in the private security business hold a license. Regulations and requirements vary from state to state, with seven states having no requirements at all. In many cases, one must pass a background check and written examinations in order to obtain licensure. Separate licensing requirements apply to armed private security personnel. State regulations for armed security personnel vary. ASIS International offers a voluntary security credential for private security personnel (www.asisonline.org). This Certified Protection Professional (CPP) credential can be obtained by those who meet education and job experience requirements and pass an examination.
ASIS International holds annual seminars and conferences for those in the private security workforce. Some private investigators and private security companies conduct seminars for private security professionals. Strategies, contemporary issues and techniques in private security are some topics that might be addressed in these seminars and conferences.
Those seeking to become private security personnel in any sector may pursue an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state position, but in most cases is required for employment.