Terms to Know for the Security Industry

This document will be an introduction and overview of the Security Guard Industry. Its purpose is to familiarize the reader with the basics of the trade. Security Officer Training, Obtaining a Security Guard License, and Security Officer Duties are included. This overview begins on page two (2).

Two online glossaries will provide meaning and definition to many security industry acronyms and terminology. Neither is intended to be printed in its entirety, nor are they formatted for such purpose. Both, however, are readily available, easily accessible, informative, often updated, and simple to use. Two different organizations publish them… ASIS International and the Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE). A brief description of each organization with website links can be found on page six (6).

The first glossary can be found on the ASIS International website:

The second glossary can be found on the Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE) website:

Disclaimer: Any additional terms or acronyms encountered through Valiant staff experience and not found in the glossaries referenced above were added to this document beginning on page seven (7). All figures, quantities, limits, amounts, etc., contained and referenced in this document are provided for educational purposes and may change periodically as labor, compliance, tax laws, etc., are altered at the Federal, State, and even Local levels. Please bring any inaccuracies and outdated data to the attention of the Training Department and help keep information current and up-to-date.


Security officers have been around for most of history under different terminology. A typical historical term for someone in this position is a watchman. Throughout history, watchmen have been a vital part of society, keeping people and property safe, especially at night. These days, watchmen are called security officers. You will see these safety officers in public arenas acting authoritatively. Some security officers work for large companies and some work for themselves and freelance their skills out to individual people or small businesses. No matter what sector of society security officers work in, they act as a valuable part of the safety infrastructure our country maintains to protect people and property. Proper security officer training will prepare you for various scenarios you may encounter in whichever area of the security officer job market you enter.

A security officer is the new politically correct terminology for a security guard. This means security officers can be armed or unarmed, depending on their licensing or certification. A security officer is typically a uniformed guard who works to protect people and property for a security company. Often a security company will be contracted by schools, businesses, hospitals, public shopping centers, large public arenas, and other locations. The security company will then hire people with a security guard license or certification to work for their company. This company will then provide their company uniform to outfit the security officer and place them at a venue to protect them. The officer will then report to and get paid through the security company rather than the workplace location.

Security Officer Training

To become a security officer, a person must undergo training to receive proper certification or licensure within the state where they work and live. Typically this is a multi-part training process leading up to certification. Most states require 8 initial hours of in-classroom training time. This first 8 hours of class time covers a security officer's powers to arrest and how to observe and report. With these first 8 hours of training accomplished, a person can apply for security officer jobs and begin working as a security officer for a security company. This company will provide their training in addition to the 8 hours of training already covered. The next step is to complete an additional 16 hours of coursework within 30 days of beginning work as a security officer. Another 16 hours of coursework is required within 6 months of starting, for 40 hours of classroom work.

The classroom work will cover public relations, laws, and legal knowledge a security officer needs to know and an important overview of a security officer's duties and responsibilities. These initial training hours are designed to equip a person with the skills and knowledge needed to work as an unarmed security officer. A person wishing to work as an armed security officer must undergo additional training (classroom hours). For instance, an individual can take courses to be licensed to carry a baton, handgun, or pepper spray. These require additional certification for someone who wishes to carry these weapons or defense mechanisms. Even pepper spray (legal for any citizen to buy and carry for protection) must only be carried and used by licensed or certified pepper spray holders. If security officer uses or carries items that they are not properly certified to carry or use, they run the risk of being prosecuted by the law for using these items illegally on the job. Nowadays, doing anything outside the law is dangerous as it puts a person at risk of being prosecuted or sued. The legal ramifications for not being properly certified for particular weapons are too great to risk. Therefore, as a security officer, you must have proper certification and training for all you do and possess. Security officers are considered law enforcement officials as they act to uphold the law. It is a great responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.

For those security officers who complete the unarmed security guard training and desire to continue training to become certified to carry a weapon, there are special courses for these purposes. The training hours are in addition to the initial 40 hours of training. Some people assume that they can take the armed security guard training, which will cover all the information they need. This is not usually the case in most states. The armed guard training needs to be in addition to the unarmed guard training. Some states and programs will allow you to take these courses in tandem with one another to complete the process around the same time. Some online or in-person training programs offer package deals for doing all the courses together (and paying at once).

It is important to shop around before selecting security officer training programs. First, ensure that the programs you are looking into are accredited or recognized by the state in which you live. Second, check into several programs to see price differences, as well as program differences. Keep in mind that some security officer training programs are available online and at community colleges, tech schools, or even security companies. It may be a good idea to look into your different options before deciding and beginning your coursework or classroom hours. Security officer training will set you up for your career as an officer and will be the foundation for building your security career. Don’t take this decision lightly. Do your homework before selecting a program, and once you select a program, stay committed to putting forth your best effort to learn the information being taught. Security officer training is designed to quickly get you out of the classroom and into a uniform. Therefore, they cram as much information into as few hours as possible. A lot of information is vital for an officer to learn; therefore, take your security officer training very seriously and stay focused on the goal. This will set you up for better success in your security officer career.

Obtaining A Security Guard License (Unarmed Class D and Armed Class G)

In almost every state, there are specific laws regarding the requirements to work as security personnel (security officers/guards, both armed and unarmed). Almost every state requires a security guard license and proper training to work. This security guard license and training process ensures that the people working in positions of authority (as security) are trained properly and understand the importance of their position within society. Security guards have the power to arrest perpetrators if people or property are being treated in a way that is against the law. This power is a great responsibility that should not be taken lightly. That is why it is vital that a person has the proper security guard license to work in these positions.

Most states require a person to get an initial Class D security license. The Class D training typically takes 40 hours. A person can then choose whether or not they will complete additional hours of coursework to obtain a Class G security license. A Class G license indicates that a person has completed the required training and hours to carry a weapon. One must obtain their initial Class D unarmed security license before taking the course necessary to obtain their armed license. This is primarily because the training is different, and both are necessary if someone wishes to work in armed security.

Class D Security License
A Class D security license means that officers who complete the training hours (take the test and achieve this type of license) have the power to act as security guards or security officers in an unarmed capacity. Class D security personnel have typically completed the minimum 40 hours’ worth of training needed to work as basic security staff for a security company. Class D security license holders primarily work in business, school, hospital, or shopping mall-type settings. Some even work at civic centers and other public arenas. A security Class D licensed guard is hired to be a security presence, seen in uniform, to deter people from committing crimes or engaging in criminal activity. The primary responsibilities of a person who has a Class D security guard license are to detect, deter, observe, and report. As members of the law enforcement hierarchy, a person with a Class D security license can prevent criminal activity before it begins if they are properly trained and know what to look for. This is the significance of security guard work. They can sometimes prevent crimes before they even happen, saving lives, time, money, police officer involvement, the need to prosecute, and much more.

Class G Security License
Having a Class G security license indicates that a person has not only gone through the training to become an unarmed security officer but also the training necessary to carry a weapon on the job. Class G is a higher level license than Class D as it allows a person to be armed. Class G security license carriers need to not only complete the initial training required to become a basic security guard but also go through weapons training, which is much more in-depth than basic training for security personnel. Security Class G license classes include legal training on laws regarding when it is legal to use a weapon, lethal force, weapons safety, etc. In addition, some people who go for their Class G security license have never handled a weapon. Therefore, part of the training includes time at a shooting range to learn to discharge a weapon, aim, clean, and care for a handgun.

Most Class G security personnel work at higher pay than those with a Class D security license. This is one of the benefits of obtaining your Class G armed security license. In addition to working for more pay, the work itself can be a little more exciting than some of the security jobs that involve sitting at a desk or standing for most of a person’s work time. People with a Class G security guard license also have the chance or ability to apply for more prestigious security positions. Some are even hired on as paid military-type personnel for privately owned defense contractors or security companies. There tend to be more elite and specified job opportunities with those that carry a Class G security license over against those that are simply qualified as unarmed security guards with a security Class D license.

If you are wondering how to get a security guard license but keep your cash flow in check, you’re in luck! One nice thing about the security guard license process is that it allows you to work while continuing your education. To get your initial certification to work, it may only be a matter of 8 classroom hours. A person can then complete 40 initial hours for a Class D security license while maintaining a security guard job. They can then continue with the hours needed for their security Class G license and continue work. This allows some freedom and flexibility to better oneself while still making money to maintain their life.



Security Officer Duties

The primary duty of a security officer is to be visible in the location they are hired to protect. Their uniformed presence is a deterrent for crime-related activity in the area. This is one of the single most important duties: to be seen! Being seen in uniform can cause a person to think twice about committing a crime or engaging in criminal activity. Often this is why businesses and public places will pay a person, simply to be a presence of authority, with a uniform and badge or patch showing that they have the authority to stop a person from doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

There are four basic words to describe the security officer's duties: detect, deter, observe, and report. The first requirement is to detect possible suspicious activity. During security officer training, a person is trained to detect suspicious behavior without stereotyping people or races. It is important for a security officer to identify suspicious behavior according to a person's behavior alone (rather than the color of their skin, etc.)  If suspicious activity is detected, the next responsibility of a security officer is to deter said activity. This may be through presence alone. It may also be through engaging the person in questioning, etc. It may even mean making an arrest (which a security officer can make under the citizen’s arrest law). If someone commits a crime, they are supposed to observe and report said crime to the proper authorities. Often a citizen’s arrest is made, but following this, the security officer would need to file a report or give a report to police officers for proper prosecution.

Besides being visible, one of the most important security officer duties (besides being visible) is to report thoroughly on events, criminal activity, and even suspicious activity. It is important for on-duty security officers to carry a notepad or a pen with them at all times to jot down relevant information that they may otherwise forget (license plate numbers, people’s names, phone numbers, descriptions, etc.). Another security gear item useful for documenting is a cell phone equipped with a camera. This is an easy way to get documentation of all kinds of important information to fulfill your security officer duties.

Stay visible, remain attentive, question suspicious activity, always be observant, and report what you see. These are the primary duties and key objectives of a security officer. Security officer duties are vital to the business and public sector's inner workings, so take your job seriously and stay committed to being the best security personnel you can be.







ASIS International, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is the leading organization for security professionals worldwide. Founded in 1955 as the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), the organization officially changed its name to “ASIS International” in 2002 to reflect its international expansion, which now includes members in more than 125 countries. The name "American Society for Industrial Security" no longer exists except in historical legal documents.

Today, ASIS is the global leader in security professional development issuing various certifications, standards, education, and guidelines for the security profession, transforming lives through the leadership they provide, the communities they create, and the products and services they deliver.

ASIS is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals by providing members and the security community with access to a full range of educational programs, services, and materials that address specific security topics and broad security interests, such as the “ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits”.

ASIS also advocates the role and value of the security management profession to businesses, the media, government entities, and the public., and by publishing the industry's No. 1 magazine—Security Management—ASIS leads the way for advanced and improved security performance.



The Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE) is a nationally accredited, award-winning directorate within the Defense Security Service (DSS) in Linthicum, MD. CDSE provides security education, training, and certification products and services to a broad audience supporting the protection of National Security and professionalization of the DoD security enterprise.

Provide the DoD with a security center of excellence for the professionalization of the security community and be the premier provider of security education and training for the DoD and industry under the National Industrial Security Program (NISP). The CDSE provides development, delivery, and exchange of security knowledge to ensure a high-performing workforce capable of addressing our Nation's security challenges.

To be the premier provider and center of excellence for security education, training, and professionalization for the DoD and industry under the NISP.









One Sixty-Eight (Coverage)

Security Industry reference to 24 / 7 coverage – around-the-clock coverage. 24 X 7 = 168 hours.

24 / 7

Twenty-Four / Seven

Refers or pertains to something occurring seven days per week, 365 days per year, for all hours of the day.



Verifying a person's biological identity by measuring and authenticating unique characteristics such as fingerprints, face recognition, voice recognition, DNA, iris recognition, and even blind tests for odor. It is used in security systems to control access to confidential areas and, at a more basic level, to authenticate a staff member's attendance, which is ultimately linked to payroll/salary disbursement, leave, etc.

Blended / Weighted OT

Blended Overtime / Weighted Overtime

Blended OT, a.k.a. Weighted or Weighted Average OT, comes into play when an employee works different jobs at different pay rates during a work week and exceeds limits causing overtime conditions.

In a simple scenario, the earnings for one job (Job 1 Hour X Job 1 Rate) are combined with those for Job two (Job 2 Hours X Job 2 Rate). The earnings total is divided by the combined number of hours worked on both jobs resulting in an average or blended rate. This blended rate is multiplied by .50 and multiplied again only by the number of OT hours. The employee’s total pay would be the combination of job one earnings, job two earnings, and OT pay.


Call-In Pay

Usually higher than one’s regular rate, compensation is received for reporting to a work location and performing related duties when a sudden need arises. Before being “Called-In,” one would have been in an “On-Call” status. Popular in Security, Healthcare, and Technology industries. (See On-Call) 



Any process carried out by one unit or person to ascertain the friendly or hostile character or identity of another. The command "HALT, WHO IS THERE?" is used to cause an unidentified party or person to halt and be identified. If an additional challenge is used, it follows the original challenge and consists of a word or distinctive sound disseminated only to friendly or authorized persons.

Commander of the Guard


The guard's senior officer or noncommissioned officer is next junior to the officer of the day. He is responsible for the instruction, discipline, and performance of the guard's duty.


Commanding Officer

The officer commanding an installation, organization, unit, garrison, or bivouac.


Correctional Officer

The correctional officer, appointed by the commanding officer of a military installation, is charged with the custody, administration, and treatment of prisoners.



A countersign consists of two words: the secret challenge and its password. The words comprising the countersign are issued from the principal headquarters of a command to aid guards in scrutinizing persons who apply to pass. These words are disseminated only to friendly personnel.

1.       Challenge. The first word or part of the countersign is used to challenge a person or party. It is disseminated only to friendly personnel.

2.       Password. A secret word or distinctive sound used to reply to a challenge. The second word or part of the countersign. It is used to answer the challenge and is disseminated only to friendly personnel.

3.       Parole. A special password is used as a check on the countersign.


Department of Homeland Security

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government with responsibilities in public security, roughly comparable to other countries' interior or home ministries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cybersecurity, and disaster prevention and management. It was created in response to the September 11 attacks.

DIFF / Shift Diff

Differential or Shift Differential

An incremental hourly rate paid for working an odd shift, i.e., the night or graveyard shift, receives an extra .75 per hour over the regular pay rate. Alternatively, a differential may be paid for working an odd job… a “dirty” or “dangerous” job.

Field Officer of the Day


A field grade officer is detailed as the personal representative of the commanding officer. During his tour of duty, he is responsible to the commanding officer for the security of the installation or activity and other duties as may be assigned depending upon local directives.

Fixed Post System


Assigning sentinels to guard duty at fixed posts where they remain until relieved.

Gov Con

Government Contract

Of or related to security firms that deal with government contracts.



A term used when referring to:

1.       A special unit responsible to the officer of the day for the protection and security of an installation or area. This unit includes a commander of the guard, a sergeant of the guard, commanders of the relief, and the guards.

2.       An individual responsible for keeping watch over, protecting, shielding, defending, warning, or any duties prescribed by general and/or special orders, also referred to as a sentinel, sentry, or lookout.

a.       Sentinel. An individual of the guard whose duties are prescribed by general and/or special orders is also referred to as a guard, sentry, or lookout.

b.       Sentry. A guard, sentinel, or lookout.

Guard’s Post


An area for which the guard is responsible. Within his post, a guard performs the duties required by general and special orders.



A building, tent, or other location occupied by men detailed for interior guard duty. It is the headquarters for the guard.

Main Guard


Regular interior guard of a post or unit whose principal duties are to patrol the area and protect the personnel, buildings, and equipment. A main guard is a subdivision of the interior guard of a command. Other subdivisions include escort guards or honor guards, for example.


Mobile Data Collection

SmartPhone APP that collects data from an employee like IN/OUT punches, geographic location, and job or department information while also providing personal PR/HR/TLM data to the employee, like schedules and pay statements.


Non-Billable Overtime

A situation occurs when a guard needs to cover an open shift that was not contracted for an overtime rate, but the only available guard has already worked 40:00 hours and thus needs to be paid at an overtime rate. The client is not billed at the OT rate.


O’Conner Security a.k.a. Officer Candidate School

NYC Security and Investigations Company, where Anthony Petraco started his career.

Officer of the Day


An officer, acting directly under the commanding officer or field officer of the day, who is responsible on a given day for the execution of all orders of the commanding officer relating to guard duty and other duties as may be assigned.


On-Call Pay

Compensation, possibly lower than one’s regular rate, received for simply making oneself “available” for work while not being on location nor performing work-related duties. Should a sudden need arise, one would be “Called-In” and expected to report to a work location and perform related duties. Popular in Security, Healthcare, and Technology industries. (See Call-In) 


Protection Of Assets




The specific area within a location where a security guard is to provide the protective service.


Premium or Shift Premium

An incremental hourly rate paid for working an odd shift, i.e., the night or graveyard shift, receives an extra .75 per hour over the regular pay rate. Alternatively, a premium for working an odd job… a “dirty” or “dangerous” job may be paid.

Relief Commander(s)


The next senior noncommissioned officer(s) of the guard.

Sergeant of the Guard


The senior noncommissioned officer of the guard. He supervises the enlisted members of the guard and is responsible to the guard's commander.



A correctional facility, under the jurisdiction of an installation commander, is used for military prisoners' confinement.



An extra member of the guard who is used when needed to replace a guard or perform duties prescribed by local directives.


Time & Labor Management
Time & Attendance

Common abbreviation for time and attendance systems – scheduling, punching IN/OUT, hours calculation, tracking attendance, etc. TLM is preferred over T&A.

Tour / Tour Times

Shift or Schedule

Specific shift(s) a security guard is to report for duty. Consists of a day (date), shift START time, and shift END time.


Valiant Employee Self Service Mobile

See also MDC. Valiant’s Employee Self-Service Mobile APP.









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