How to Become a Licensed Security Guard Trainer in California
Security guard licensing in California is a complex process. Multiple licenses in multiple categories must be issued by the state regulatory agency (BSIS) for security service operation, training and licensure. This page was prepared to help demystify the process.
The bottom of the page contains references to the California Business and Professions Codes related to security guard training requirements.
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) Licensing
The governing body for all security guard licensing in California is the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). There are four (4) categories of licenses issued by the BSIS related to the private security industry:
- Private Patrol Operators (PPO).
These are companies that hire security guards.
- Training Facilities.
These are schools that only offer training services.
- Security Guard Trainer Licenses.
These are certified weapons trainers who may teach the unarmed courses as well as designated weapons courses.
- Security Guard Licenses.
These are employees who perform security services.
Security Guard CoursesBack to top
There are multiple security guard licensing courses in California. Some courses may be taught by Private Patrol Operators (security guard employers) and others must be taught exclusively in licensed training facilities by licensed instructors. The table below outlines the various courses and which type of facility may teach the course.
Training Facilities can teach any weapons course for which they hold a facility license plus all unarmed courses. Private Patrol Operators may only teach unarmed courses.
|Course/License||Patrol Operator||Training Facility|
|40-hours Unarmed Guard Card||X||X|
|8-hours Unarmed Annual Refresher||X||X|
|20-hours School Security Officer||X||X|
|16-hours Proprietary Security Guard||X||X|
|Exposed Firearms Permit||X|
|2-hours Armed Requalification||X|
|Chemical Agents (defensive spray)||X|
Unarmed Security Guard CoursesBack to top
All professional security guards that work in the state of California must be licensed and registered with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). To be properly licensed, the security guard must complete a standard course in the powers of arrest, weapons of mass destruction/terrorism awareness, public relations, observation and documentation, communication and its significance, liability/legal aspects and other elective courses that vary depending upon the training facility and type of unarmed license desired.
The unarmed courses may be taught by any designated employee of a licensed Private Patrol Operator (PPO) or licensed training facility. A special training license is not required to teach unarmed courses, only the employer/facility requires licensing.
A BSIS-licensed weapons trainer, firearm or baton, may teach any unarmed course.
Weapons Trainer LicensesBack to top
A trainer must be licensed by the BSIS for each weapons discipline: firearm or baton. There is a specific application process and set of qualifications for each discipline. Applicants must submit one complete application for each training credential. They are separate certifications.
Firearms Trainer Minimum Qualifications
In accordance with California Business and Professions Code Section 7585.5, a firearms training instructor applicant must:
- An associate of arts degree in administration of justice
- One year of teaching
- Training experience in firearms or its equivalent
- A police or security firearms training instructor certificate issued by the National Rifle Association
- A firearms training instructor certificate issued by a federal, state of local agency
Baton Trainer Minimum Qualifications
In accordance with California Business and Professions Code Section 7585.12, a baton training instructor applicant must:
- An associate of arts degree in administration of justice
- A baton instructor certificate issued by a federal, state or local agency
- One year of verifiable baton teaching experience
- Its equivalent as determined by the Chief
Applicants must submit supporting documents establishing baton training experience.
Application FeesBack to top
There is a non-refundable $250 application fee that must accompany the application.
Course MaterialsBack to top
The California BSIS provides mandatory training materials and examinations the initial 8-hours standard course in the powers of arrest, weapons of mass destruction/terrorism awareness. The remaining 32-hours of full guard card must be created and submitted to the BSIS for review and approval. This process entails submitting the curricula, lesson plans, manuals, worksheets, exams and presentations to the BSIS for review and approval.
Coursework for the 8-hours Unarmed Annual Refresher, 20-hours School Security Officer, 16-hours Proprietary Security Guard, and Chemical Agents (defensive spray) courses must be created and submitted to the BSIS for review and approval. This process entails submitting the curricula, lesson plans, manuals, worksheets, exams and presentations to the BSIS for review and approval.
The California BSIS provides mandatory training materials and examinations for firearms and baton training.
Licensing Training Materials
Trainers and facilities are not required to write their own programs. It is possible to license BSIS-approved training materials from other, approved training providers. Costs and fees vary depending upon the provider.
California Business and Professions CodeBack to top
Chapter 11.5, Private Security Services
Article 4. Private Patrol Operators
(a) A person entering the employ of a licensee [Private Patrol Operator] to perform the functions of a security guard or a security patrolperson shall complete a course in the exercise of the power to arrest prior to being assigned to a duty location.
(b) Except for a registrant who has completed the course of training required by Section 7583.45, a person registered pursuant to this chapter shall complete not less than 32 hours of training in security officer skills within six months from the date the registration card is issued. Sixteen of the 32 hours shall be completed within 30 days from the date the registration card is issued.
(e) The course of training required by subdivision (b) may be administered, tested, and certified by any licensee, or by any organization or school approved by the department. The department may approve any person or school to teach the course.
- The course of training in the exercise of the power to arrest may be administered, tested, and certified by any licensee [Private Patrol Operator] or by any organization or school approved by the department. The department may approve any person or school to teach the course in the exercise of the power to arrest...
PPO MAY NOT teach Chemical Agents course:
Section 7583.36. A licensee [Private Patrol Operator] shall not permit any employee to carry tear gas or any other nonlethal chemical agent prior to ascertaining that the employee is proficient in the use of tear gas or other nonlethal chemical agent. Evidence of proficiency shall include a certificate from a training facility approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services that the person is proficient in the use of tear gas or any other nonlethal chemical agent.
Article 5. Firearms and Baton Training Facilities
- Any individual who desires certification by the bureau to instruct a firearms course shall complete an application for a firearms training instructor certificate. An application shall be made on a form provided by the bureau.
- An applicant for a firearms training instructor certificate shall meet the following minimum qualifications:
- Possess an associate of arts degree in the administration of justice or one year of teaching or training experience in firearms or the equivalent thereof.
- Possess a police or security firearms instructor training certificate issued by the National Rifle Association or a firearms instructor training certificate issued by a federal, state, or local agency.
- The application shall be accompanied by the fee prescribed in this chapter.
- Upon approval by the bureau of an applicant for certification as a firearms training instructor, the chief shall issue to the applicant a "Firearms Training Instructor Certificate." The certificate shall be posted at the training site.
Section 7585.12. Any individual who desires certification by the bureau to instruct the baton course shall complete an application for a baton training instructor certificate. An application shall be made on a form provided by the bureau.
An applicant for a baton training instructor certificate shall meet the following minimum qualifications:
- Possess an associate of arts degree in the administration of justice or the equivalent thereof.
- Possess a baton instructor certificate issued by a federal, state, or local agency or one year of verifiable baton teaching or training experience or the equivalent thereof to be determined by the chief.
- The application shall be accompanied by the fee prescribed in this chapter.
- Upon approval by the bureau of an applicant for certification as a baton training instructor, the chief shall issue to the applicant a "Baton Training Instructor Certificate." The certificate shall be posted at the baton training site.
Power To Arrest Training
Firearms Instructor/Firearms Training Facility; Baton Instructor/Baton Training Facility Application
Certified firearms and/or baton instructors are approved to administer the Powers to Arrest Examination and all other training; a certificate or other written approval is not necessary.
BSIS NoticesBack to top
September 29, 2016
Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1196 (Hill) into law on September 29, 2016. This bill makes various changes to the practice acts regulated by the Bureau. Below are summaries of some changes made by the legislation that impact security guards seeking exposed firearms permits:
Private Security Services Act.
Effective January 1, 2018, a security guard applying for an initial BSIS Firearms Permit must be found capable of exercising appropriate judgment, restraint, and self-control for the purposes of carrying a firearm during the course of their guard duties. The determination will be carried out via an assessment administered by a third-party vendor selected by the Bureau. The cost of the assessment will be borne by the applicant; however, a designee or the applicant's employer may elect to cover the costs of this assessment.
July 20, 2016
This notice follows up the Bureau's advisement in June 2016 that it had suspended the practice of adding a caliber to a current BSIS Firearms Permit because the process being used was not specified in law.
After extensive analysis of the laws and regulations, the Bureau has determined that the only legal pathway to add a caliber to an existing firearms permit under current Bureau law and regulations is for the permit holder to complete the course of training in the carrying and use of a firearm required to obtain an initial firearm permit, as prescribed by, Title 16, Division 7, Section 635 of the California Code of Regulations. Specifically:
- Completion of at least 8 hours of classroom instruction on the carrying and use of a firearm,
- Passing a Bureau-approved written firearm exam with a minimum score of 85%, and
- Discharging 50 rounds a minimum of two (2) times, one (1) round for practice and one (1) round for score.
Pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 7583.2(f) and 7599.40, the Bureau has developed the Certificate of Proficiency in Specified Caliber(s) and Request for Replacement Permit form.
The form can be found on the Bureau's website at
and additional information for instructors and firearms permit holders may be found at
June 1, 2016
*NOTICE REGARDING "ADD CALIBERS" TO BSIS FIREARMS PERMIT*
The Bureau of Security & Investigative Services (Bureau) has suspended the practice of adding a caliber on a current BSIS Firearms Permit. Any "Add Caliber" requests postmarked after June 3, 2016 will not be processed.
During the recent revisions of the Firearms Permit Application, it was noted that the process used to add a caliber to an existing firearms permit is not specified in law.
The Bureau is researching how to address this issue as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and will provide an update once this issue has been resolved.
May 2016: New BSIS Firearms Permit Forms
On May 20, 2016 the BSIS published new Exposed Firearms Permit applications. There are now two (2) forms: One (1) for the initial application and a second (2) for the periodic requalifications.
In an effort to simplify the BSIS Firearms Permit application process, the Bureau separated the Application for Firearms Permit, which was used for both initial issuance and renewal of a BSIS Firearms Permit, into two separate forms. Specifically, the two new forms are:
The new forms, which are dated May 2016, provide additional information on the respective application process and requirements, and are available on the Bureau's website at www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/index.shtml.
Effective September 1, 2016, the Bureau will only accept firearm permit applications on the new forms. Outdated forms may be deemed deficient and require the completion of a new application on the current form.
NOTE: For individuals who have begun their requalification requirements prior to September 1, 2016, they may provide the requalification information on the prior application form. However, any requalifications completed after September 1, 2016 and the submission of the renewal application after September 1, 2016 must be submitted on the new forms.
May 2016: New DOJ Live Scan Process Delays Applications
LIVE SCAN PROCESS UPDATE
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently changed their process for issuing criminal history responses when an applicant submits one set of fingerprints for both a BSIS license and firearms permit using a combination Live Scan forms (e.g. Security Guard w/Firearm). This change may delay the Bureau's processing of your license application.
To help avoid delays in the processing of your license application, you may wish to consider submitting two sets of fingerprints with separate Live Scan forms (e.g. Security Guard and Security Guard w/Firearm). Please note, however, that submitting fingerprints through two Live Scan forms is more expensive than submitting fingerprints with one combination Live Scan form.
July 16, 2015
The Bureau would like to remind Bureau Certified Firearm Training Facilities and Instructors to use the current version, revised 11/2014, of the Bureau's Application for Firearms Permit which is located on the Bureau's website.
Older versions of the Application for Firearms Permit lack required legal updates which have been made as a result of law changes. In the event that an older version of the Application for Firearms Permit is submitted, the Bureau may return it to the applicant/licensee as deficient if required information is missing. An application deficiency will cause a delay with processing an initial or renewal firearms permit application.
You may contact the Bureau with any questions you may have:
Phone: 916-322-4000 or 800-952-5210
July 7, 2015
The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (Bureau or BSIS) would like to remind Bureau-certified Firearm Training Facilities and Instructors that they are statutorily mandated to verify the U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency status of any individual seeking firearm training, for the purpose of obtaining or renewing a Bureau Firearm Permit, prior to offering the firearms training course. Accordingly, Firearm Training Facilities and Instructors must complete the U.S. citizenship/residence certification section on the BSIS Application for Firearms Permit.
Any initial or renewal Firearms Permit Application submitted without the Citizenship or Permanent Residence Verification section completed will be returned to the applicant with instructions to return to the Firearm Training Facility so that the instructor who completed the firearm training may complete the section.
DisclaimerBack to top
Security Training Center,® LLC. is not a government department or organization. The information and links on this page is provided as a courtesy to individuals looking to become security guard trainers in the State of California and/or license training materials. Although great pains have been taken to collect the information provided here, Security Training Center, LLC. does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information provided.
All questions regarding trainer licensure and applications should be directed to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS):
For more information on our licensing programs, please contact: