If you’re gearing up to start a career in Texas as a security guard, you can look forward to working with a team of professionals who are passionate about keeping people and properties safe.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Regulatory Services Division issues anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 individual applications each month. However, not all applications are approved. This article will help you understand what is required to become a security guard in Texas, and how you can improve your chances of receiving your license.
Security is a regulated profession in Texas
Texas law requires security guards to be licensed, and submit certain items (fingerprints, criminal history check), before they can be granted authorization to work in the industry. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) regulates both commissioned and non-commissioned security guards. Commissioned security guards are authorized to carry firearms, but they must also meet more stringent training and eligibility requirements than non-commissioned guards.
The DPS strives to protect the public by ensuring the people hired to perform high-risk jobs can reasonably and confidently carry out their duties. The DPS is also responsible for investigating and resolving complaints, taking disciplinary action against licensees, and seeking criminal prosecution of individuals who perform private security services without a valid license.
It’s not just security guards that must obtain a license before they can start working; alarm installers, private investigators and locksmiths must have the proper approval from the DPS before they can legally work. All individuals must be licensed and affiliated with a company or entity licensed by the DPS.
Eligibility requirements for unarmed security guards
Below are the requirements that must be met in order for the DPS to grant someone a security guard license:
- All security professionals must be at least 18 years old
- They must meet general fitness requirements
- They cannot have been discharged from the military dishonorably or under any other conditions that would be considered prohibitive
- They cannot be indicted or charged with felonies or Class A or B misdemeanors (burglary, theft, drunk driving).
- They can’t be registered as sex offenders in any U.S. state
- A court must be able to determine that the applicant is mentally competent
The applicant will need to complete an approved training program that will culminate in a test. If passed, the person will be issued a Level II certificate.
Eligibility requirements for armed security guards
In order to work as an armed or commissioned guard, an individual must meet additional eligibility, training, and skill requirements. They must be 21 years old. They must, in the view of the licensing agency, be capable of exercising good judgment. The licensing agency may determine that an applicant is incapable because of a serious psychiatric disorder or condition, even if the condition is currently in remission. According to state statutes, medical records may be required.
- A person may also be disqualified due to a chemical dependence, restraining order, or ban from possessing firearms
- Someone who has been convicted of two alcohol or substance-related misdemeanors at the Class B level or greater is, according to the licensing agency, chemically dependent
Training must be completed through an approved school or instructor. The applicant will need to score satisfactorily on a test. Once training is complete, the person will be issued a Level III certificate. Those who have current or recent experience as peace officers may be eligible for training exemptions.
Security guards can enroll in a Level II training program in person or online. The course is roughly six hours long and costs roughly between $50 and $65. Different organizations will have different prices and time limitations for completing the course, but most will give students several days to complete it.
The course will cover a variety of general topics, including:
- Prevention and deterrence
- How to communicate with police
- Effective observing and reporting
- Emergency response
- Offenses and arrests
- Best practices for report writing
- Conflict resolution
- Texas penal code
Once course material has been taught, the applicant will need to take an exam. Once they pass, they can move forward with applying for a license.
Those interested in becoming commissioned guards will need to complete a Level III, in-person training program after they have their Level II certificate. The training is more extensive in this course because of the nature of the job. The course is generally 45 hours long, and may cost between $150 to $200. Note that students are required to qualify with a handgun or shotgun, depending on what they plan on using when they are on duty, during the class. The firearms for training may be provided to students, depending on the organization.
Applying for a license
In Texas, the Private Security Program has an online application process and licensing database called Texas Online Private Security (TOPS). There are step-by-step instructions on how to apply. There will be background questions on the application. It is important that applicants are honest when answering these questions as a background check will be conducted.
The nice thing about applying online is that the application fee is precalculated for applicants. In some cases, if the new guard has already been hired by a company, the employer will pay the fees for them.
Once the application is submitted and fees have been paid, the applicant will receive a checklist of items required to complete the application. Applicants new to the security industry will be required to submit fingerprints electronically to DPS through an approved vendor as part of the application (unless they qualify for the alternative fingerprint process). They will also need to submit their training certificates.
Unarmed guards are required to pay a license fee of $37. This includes costs for the pocket card and subscription. Licenses expire two years from the date of issuance, and will need to be renewed for the same price. They can be renewed online 90 days before the expiration date. There is a late fee of $15 for past-due license renewals.
Armed guards are required to pay a $57 license fee. Licenses also expire two years from the date of issuance, and will need to be renewed for the same price. Furthermore, armed guards need to take a requalification class every two years. The class is only 6 hours long, and will cost less than the original class. The class must be completed no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date. There is a late fee of $25 for past due license renewals.
Other fees include the FBI fingerprint check ($28.25), duplicate pocket card ($17) and employee information update ($17).
If you’re hoping to work as a security guard in Texas, you’ll need to ensure that you are eligible to fill the role. After that, you can move ahead with getting the proper training, and submitting an application for a license. The law requires that all security guards in Texas obtain the proper credentials. Guards that intend to work with firearms will need to give themselves more time to earn their license as more stringent training is required. Armed guards are exposed to more risk, but they don’t always make significantly more than unarmed guards. The average annual salary for an armed guard is about $30,000, while an unarmed guard might make $23,000. That being said, there may be more opportunities for armed guards.