Aspiring to join the ranks of security guards in New York State, yet unsure of the process? This comprehensive guide is here to assist you.

Navigating the sea of information and deciphering the necessary steps can be daunting. That’s why we’ve compiled this article on obtaining your NYS license and embarking on a career as a security guard, providing all the essential details at your fingertips.

To become a security guard in New York State, you must:

  • Be a minimum of 18 years of age
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Successfully pass the NYS written examination
  • Complete 16 hours of practical, on-the-job training
  • Submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting
  • Acquire a license from the NYS Division of Licensing Services

Upon fulfilling the outlined prerequisites and obtaining the necessary documentation from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, you’ll be ready to commence your career as a security guard in NYS.

Mandatory 8 and 16-Hour Training for New York State Security Guards

Taking your education seriously is vital when contemplating a career as a security guard.

In order to obtain your NYS Security Guard License, you must first complete an 8-hour pre-assignment training course and achieve a satisfactory grade. This course offers students a comprehensive overview of the duties and responsibilities pertinent to security guards.

Topics covered include:

After successfully completing this course, you’ll be ready to obtain a registration card from the NYS Department of State.

Subsequently, within three months (or 90 days) of passing the 8-hour pre-assignment training, you’ll need to complete 16 hours of on-the-job training.

Furthermore, as a licensed security guard in New York State, you must complete an 8-hour annual in-service training course within one year (or 12 calendar months) of finishing your 16-hour on-the-job training, and continue to do so every subsequent year.

More information can be found here:

New York State Armed Security Training

To qualify as an armed security officer in New York State, a 47-hour course at an approved firearms training school is mandatory.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) must approve this course, which should encompass live-range firing, classroom instruction, and field training in handgun safety, shooting fundamentals, emergency protocols, and legal matters related to private security services.

Moreover, supervised range firing for eight hours and a final examination are required.

Similar to unarmed security officers, an 8-hour course must be completed within one year (or 12 calendar months) after finishing the 47-hour firearms training course. However, this 8-hour course only needs to be completed once.

More information can be found here:

Related: Armed Vs. Unarmed Security Guards 

Getting Your NYS Guard License

As alluded to previously, obtaining your NYS Security Guard License entails adhering to specific protocols.

Initially, you must secure a certification from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (NYS DCJS) if you’re seeking employment within a private organization.

Conversely, if your ambition lies in joining the ranks of state-employed security guards, a letter of authorization from NYS DCJS is needed.

To initiate the certification process, reach out to the NYS DCJS and solicit an application form tailored for this purpose. The NYC DCJS security forms can be found here.

Subsequently, immerse yourself in the mandated educational programs (e.g., managing aggressive behavior) and give the NYS DCJS proof of completion.

Upon successfully navigating these courses, the NYS DCJS will give you a certification, thereby attesting to your qualification as a security guard and eligibility for licensure.

With the certification in hand, you can apply for the license online.

Once the pertinent forms have been completed, the final step entails submitting a comprehensive application form accompanied by the required documentation (i.e., a copy of the certification letter).

How You Get A NYS Guard License

If you’re looking to become a security guard in New York, securing a state license is a must.

Before you can get your hands on that license, you’ll need to fulfill specific prerequisites laid out by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

Kickstart your journey by enrolling in an approved NYC security guard training program, and make sure to complete all the required coursework, exams, and assessments.

Once you’ve proven yourself qualified, you’ll be awarded a NYS security guard license.

The DCJS is in charge of security guard licensing for the entire state of New York, ensuring safety standards are met in every corner of its jurisdiction.

This includes the responsibility of formulating policies and procedures, as well as determining the training program requirements that outline the best practices for security officers to follow on the job.

Moreover, the DCJS designs a consistent licensing process, which all aspiring security guards must adhere to before obtaining their license.

Finally, the Division of Licensing Services plays a crucial role in granting security licenses to applicants who have successfully met the requirements mandated by the DCJS.

What is a security guard?

Security guards are professionally trained individuals responsible for safeguarding people and property across various environments, like commercial establishments.

Though a precise definition of a security guard is elusive, their duties typically encompass:

  • Overseeing and monitoring staff or clientele at their respective locations
  • Carrying out patrols and surveillance tasks
  • Implementing emergency protocols to ensure the well-being of people and assets
  • Upholding parking rules, fire safety measures, and other regulations or procedures
  • Enhancing security at entry and exit points, as well as through monitoring equipment, lighting, locks, and more

You’ll often find security guards in both private and public spaces, such as offices, factories, retail shops, parking areas, malls, theaters, airports, hospitals, and libraries.

In residential or corporate contexts, they may work in apartment complexes or gated communities.

Aside from these core responsibilities, security guards can also be hired for special events or personal protection.

Operating under an employer or a security management firm, security guards adhere to relevant laws, like the New York State Penal Code, and state-specific regulations (e.g., New York State Security Guard Regulations).

Security guard training programs differ in length, often lasting several weeks. Trainees learn self-defense tactics, patrol techniques, and emergency procedures, including crisis or terror attack response.

More information on training requirements can be found here.

Moreover, they’re educated about the legal framework governing the security sector, including the permitted types of weapons (e.g., handguns).


Why should you become a security guard?

In New York, security guards enjoy a diverse range of job prospects, enabling them to find employment by:

  1. Serving private property owners or operators;
  2. Collaborating with law enforcement agencies as special deputies;
  3. Joining government agencies as federal security officers (or GSOs).

Private property owners or operators often have hectic schedules, leaving them little time to manage their day-to-day operations. Consequently, they might opt to outsource security services to guards, who can be hired hourly or monthly—or even both.

Law enforcement agencies, responsible for safeguarding extensive areas and properties beyond their jurisdiction, may employ special deputies. These deputies function as their eyes and ears in locations where regular law enforcement officers cannot be stationed due to budget or staffing constraints.

Government agencies, on the other hand, engage security guards in various capacities. Generally, these professionals are hired under contracts that outline specific duties to support their employers’ interests.

Being a security guard often comes with flexible hours and competitive compensation packages. Additionally, these job opportunities typically encompass medical insurance coverage for employees, along with their spouses and dependents.

We provide security guard services in the following New York locations:

Additional information:

  1. Division of Licensing Services Contact
  2. Division of Criminal Justice Services Contact

Joseph Ferdinando is the founder of Building Security Services, a company that provides security solutions to businesses and organizations. He has more than 40 years of experience in the security industry, and he is a recognized expert in the field. Joseph is also a member of Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), where he's held position of Director on the Board of Directors in both the New York and new Jersey chapters.