How do I get a California Security Guard Card?


BSIS State License Numbers: TFF1296 & TFB1197

Packages and Prices:

  1. 8hr guard card course – $21.95
  2. 32hr BSIS guard card course – $74.95
  3. 40hr guard card package – $84.95

What is a guard card?

Before I explain how to get a security guard card, I should take a moment to explain what a guard card is and why you need one in order to work as a security guard in California.

In California, security guards are licensed by a state government agency called the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS for short). You must have a license issued by BSIS in order to work as a security guard in the state. The license is called a Guard Registration Card. Everyone calls it a “guard card” for short. You can see an example in the picture posted with this article.

I want to clarify that a guard card is a state license. It can only be issued by the state of California.  Practical Defense Systems (that’s us) is a state licensed vocational school. We provide the training the state requires in order to obtain a guard card and the continuing education the state requires security guards to complete each year so they can keep their guard cards current. However, we don’t issue guard cards. What you will receive from us once you have completed your training is a certificate of completion. You will need the certificate we provide in order to apply for a guard card.

If you are already tired of reading and simply want to know the steps involved, I’ll post them below.

Getting a California security guard card step-by-step.

  1. Complete the first 8 hour class (or the 40 hour bundle)
  2. Submit your application on the BSIS website.
  3. Complete a live scan at any live scan operator near you.
  4. If you only did the first 8 hour class in step 1, complete the additional 32 hours of continuing education within 6 months of getting your guard card.

So, there you have it. If you want more detail, read on.

How do I apply?

In order to get a California security guard card, you must first complete a pre-licensing course, often referred to as a “guard card class”. The online guard card class is 8 hours long and can be completed in one day. Although, you can take your time and complete the course over several days, if you want to. The course is composed of two sections: Powers to Arrest and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Practical Defense Systems offers the security guard card training and guard card course on-line and on-demand in three online packages:

Is the 8 hour course all I have to do?

No. You have three additional steps to complete.

  • Have your fingerprints taken and pay for your background checks.
  • Submit your state licensing application and application fee.
  • Complete the required 32 hours of continuing education within six months.

Fingerprinting and background checks.

Once you have completed your guard card training course and passed the written test, you must have your fingerprints taken and pay for your state and federal background checks. If you are in California, you can submit your fingerprints and background check fees at a LiveScan location near you. If you are outside of California, you should contact BSIS directly for instructions on how to submit your fingerprints and background check fees.

For applicants in California, the LiveScan operator will scan your fingerprints electronically and collect the fees required to pay for your FBI and DOJ background checks.  You can go to any LiveScan operator near you. We will provide you with the proper LiveScan form at the conclusion of your course.

Submitting your licensing application and paying your fees.

Since a guard card is a state license, California requires that you submit an application for the license and pay a licensing fee. You can apply for your guard card, either on-line at the BSIS website at, or by postal mail. Applying online is easier and generally results in your guard card being issued more quickly.

Completing the required continuing education.

Once you receive your guard card, you are required to complete an additional 32 hours of education.  We make it simple by providing the courses online. The first 16 hours must be completed within 30 days of your guard card being issued and includes four mandatory classes:

  • Public Relations (Community & Customer)
  • Observation & Documentation
  • Communication and its Significance
  • Liability / Legal Aspects

The remaining 16 hours of education must be completed within six months of your guard card issue date and can include these electives:

  • Post Orders & Assignments
  • Evacuation Procedures
  • Officer Safety
  • Arrests, Search & Seizure
  • Access Control
  • Trespass
  • Laws, Codes, Regulations and Ordinances
  • First Aid / CPR
  • Handling Difficult People
  • Work Place Violence
  • Chemical Agents
  • Preserving the Incident Scene
  • Crowd Control
  • Patrol Techniques
  • Parking / Traffic Control

To make completing these continuing education requirements easier, PDS has combined them into two available online packages:

Our BSIS certified security officer online training courses are available anywhere there is an internet connection. In addition to the guard card courses, Practical Defense Systems offers a full range of security officer training.


More information can be found in the following articles:

How can a security guard make more money?

Are TASERs the right tool for security guards?

Which security guard courses should I take?

Practical Defense Systems is licensed by the state of California as a BSIS license training facility (lic #s TFF1296 and TFB1197).  We offer online security officer training throughout the state of California.  We are located at 8880 Rio San Diego Drive – 8th Floor, San Diego California 92108.   For more information, please contact us toll free at 888-233-6488 or refer to the detailed information available on our website.