How to Become a Security Guard in Pennsylvania

How to Become a Security Guard in Pennsylvania

There is no shortage of demand for security guards in Pennsylvania.

If you want to know what you need to do to enter this industry in this state, read on!

Security Guard Job Description and Requirements

In Pennsylvania, the security industry is regulated at the state level, though individuals can submit their papers to their local authorities.

The Private Detective Act of 1953 is the main article of the law that describes:

  • The requirements to watch and patrol
  • The requirements to guard businesses
  • The hiring standards for employees

This Act covers only unarmed agents, as the armed ones will adhere to higher regulations.

The most important requirement to work as a security guard is having a clean criminal record.

This criminal background check is done based on your fingerprints.

The Act refers to specific crimes that will disqualify an individual.

However, if you were granted an executive pardon, the Act doesn’t apply.

Other requirements include:

  • Having empathy skills with the customers
  • Knowledge of how to use a gun if needed
  • Knowledge of public safety
  • Solid communication skills
  • Ability to decide fast
  • Work well alone but also in a team
  • Providing work history for the past 3 years
  • Being at least 18 years old

Your duties as a security guard are:

  • Working together with law enforcement to report any suspicious incidents
  • Ensure that the laws are respected on your employer’s property
  • Keep an eye on TV cameras and alarms
  • Patrol a designated area
  • Write reports about what you found during your checkups
  • Interview witnesses in the case of criminal activity

Armed Guard Requirements and Application Process

Security guards who need to carry a gun must meet the requirements set by the Lethal Weapons Training Act 235.

In this context, nightsticks are considered a lethal weapon as they can cause serious physical harm.

To be allowed to carry the weapon, these agents need to undergo special training.

They can obtain one of these certifications:

  • Non-firearms – just with the academic module
  • Firearms – needs:
    • The academic module
    • The firearms module
    • The meeting of additional requirements

To be accepted into the training program, you’ll have to:

  • Pass the background check
  • Undergo a physical exam
  • Undergo a psychological exam

Current and former peace officers may benefit from various exemptions based on individual circumstances

For instance, a municipal police officer with at least 20 years of service who retired recently may benefit from:

  • Waivers of initial training
  • Waivers for the physical evaluation
  • Waivers for the psychological evaluation

The website of the Lethal Weapons Training Unit has the forms and information for all the possible waivers.

Requirements for Security Businesses

Security businesses need:

  • A license
  • A surety bond
  • Minimum age of 25 for the sole proprietor or member of the corporation or partnership

This person, called a qualifying agent, needs:

  • At least 3 years of qualifying law enforcement or investigative / detective experience
  • To submit their fingerprints

Different counties might have differences when it comes to the requirements and application process.

Background Check Requirements

The background check is done through Cogent, the vendor, and you can register online or by phone.

The fee associated with this process is $77.50, however, certain people with a certain work background may pay less.

Individuals who come from out-of-state will need to send 2 passport-type photos, to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Other requirements include:

  • Taking a physical examination
    • It includes measuring the functions of the heart and lungs, answering questions related to medication, and more
    • This exam must be performed by a Pennsylvania-licensed physician
  • Taking a psychological evaluation, under a Pennsylvania-licensed psychologist
    • It has at least 2 components: a personality test as well as an interview and history
    • The test is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Undergoing training at one of the certified schools
  • Paying the $30 fee after completing the training

The forms you’ll need for all these evaluations can be found on the website of the Pennsylvania State Police.

All forms need to be submitted regardless of the answer and results.

The psychologist can use other tests as too, but they’ll have to explain this.

The training is usually required after you receive the answer.

You can check the status of the application online.

Security Guard Salary Information

Security guards that just got hired will earn much less than those with considerable experience in the field.

Additionally, the salary will depend also on the city you work in.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Philadelphia $43,641
Pittsburgh $40,129
Allentown $41,058
Erie $37,632
Reading $40,527
Upper Darby $43,641
Scranton $37,603
Bensalem $44,001
Lancaster $39,913
Abington $43,608

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ2,540$35,940$17.28$47,250$24,520
Altoona, PA270$31,570$15.18$44,420$20,920
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA90$35,620$17.12$47,380$22,390
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA220$38,810$18.66$49,420$27,760
East Stroudsburg, PA290$33,270$15.99$47,590$22,710
Erie, PA680$32,810$15.77$46,970$22,240
Gettysburg, PA150$35,980$17.3$49,540$21,140
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA2,240$33,650$16.18$45,850$22,230
Johnstown, PA290$29,990$14.42$44,500$18,940
Lancaster, PA640$34,460$16.57$47,230$22,970
Lebanon, PA100$32,820$15.78$45,050$24,190
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD24,310$37,550$18.05$47,670$26,920
Pittsburgh, PA8,720$34,500$16.59$46,810$22,790
Reading, PA680$35,180$16.92$47,950$22,880
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA1,490$35,930$17.27$60,090$22,460
State College, PA210$32,440$15.6$52,910$20,930
Williamsport, PA350$38,040$18.29$59,720$22,220
York-Hanover, PA750$34,480$16.58$57,560$22,340
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Security Guards, OCC Code 33-9032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information

Pennsylvania’s administrative code also covers the standards related to the uncorrected and corrected vision.

USA Security Guard License by State

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