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article / April 21, 2023

Private security training: 7 certifications to earn to advance your career

Improve your operational capabilities and fast-track your career with these certifications

Navigating the intricate web of private security training certifications is a challenge everyone in the security industry faces eventually, from earning their basic credentials to working on advancing their career. The best certifications to pursue largely depends on what you see as the “next step” in your development, whether that’s finding a role in executive protection, taking on managerial responsibilities, or becoming an instructor. This guide will help you identify the best certifications to pursue, and how they can help you achieve your career goals. 

Why private security training certifications are essential

There are more than 800,000 private security guards employed in the United States alone, and the market for private security services is expected to grow more than 4% year-over-year until 2026. That means the industry is competitive, but also that security officers won’t lack opportunities. The best way for an enterprising security professional to get ahead is to pursue additional qualifications on top of the basic security officer training and CPR courses that are generally required so that they can take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Crisis prevention and intervention

Crisis prevention and intervention programs are designed to teach security officers to non-violently de-escalate adversarial scenarios, most typically pertaining to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. These courses often cover both the physical and verbal skills necessary in such situations. After completing a course, security guards should have a richer understanding how best to preserve the welfare and health of people in facilities where such a confrontation might take place, such as a hospital.

Security supervisor

A security supervisor certificate is beneficial to anyone considering a managerial or directorial role later in their security career. These private security training programs are designed to help trainees learn the fundamentals of high-level roles, such as assisting the development of junior officers, performing audits, and designing standard operating procedures.

Think of security supervisor certifications as indicators that a security guard understands the “big picture.” It’s not about the individual actions one takes on the job, but the holistic process governing how a building or entity’s overall level of security. Notably, these courses usually require several years of job experience before an individual can enroll.

Fire safety training

Fire safety training courses are valuable for private security guards that work in areas where wildfires are a common problem. The courses cover essential topics such as fire behavior, fire extinguishing methods, and evacuation procedures. Those skills can make guards more adept at identifying structural weaknesses, coordinating standard operating procedures, and crowd control. As such, these certifications can create a strong foundation for officers who would like to enter security supervisor training at some point, as they speak to “big picture” considerations.

Active shooter response training

An active shooter response training certification covers topics such as threat assessment, lockdown procedures, and tactical response options. These courses can be found in hybrid models that allow security officers to complete a mix of in-person and digital training to earn a certificate. These certifications can make an officer stand out amongst their peers, and therefore more appealing candidates for advanced job openings.

Executive protection certifications

Executive protection certifications demonstrate a security professional's expertise in providing personal security for high-profile individuals, such as CEOs, politicians and celebrities. Clients who need an executive protection service are generally considered to be at risk of sophisticated attacks, both from individuals and organizations. Therefore, executive protection certification courses cover complex abilities with high skill curves. These include transportation security, route planning, extraction, and threat assessment. Executive protection certifications are difficult to earn and often take months to complete, if not longer. However, they can be a pathway to higher earning potential and a wider professional network.

Surveillance and counter-surveillance

Surveillance and counter-surveillance certifications focus on the techniques used to observe, gather information and track persons of interest. Executives, corporations and VIPs have an elevated risk of being victims of data theft and espionage, so these certifications are ideal for those working in executive protection roles. Surveillance and counter-surveillance certifications build a deeper, more nuanced understanding of threat assessment. Officers will need to consider unconventional structural weaknesses, entry points and data vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to surveillance breaches. 

Axon TASER energy weapon training

De-escalation is a critical tool in every security officer’s toolkit. While verbal tactics are a go-to, knowing how to use de-escalation tools like TASER devices properly is equally, if not more, effective depending on the situation. Axon offers a variety of TASER energy weapon training for security professionals via Axon Academy, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed for the safe and effective use of TASER devices. The training modules cover force options, making decisions tactically, medical issues, maintenance, personal safety and more — all of which are critical skills for private security.

Additionally, the Axon TASER Instructor Course certifies individuals to teach their own TASER energy weapon courses. The full course schedule is available on the Axon website, showing the time and location of TASER Instructor Courses across the United States. TASER energy weapon courses are just one Axon certification that can help private security professionals accelerate their career development. Contact Axon today to learn more.