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California – Bouncer Training

PSO vs Guard Card

California PSO Licensing Training 2021


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Proprietary Security Officer (PSO or PPSO) | Approved Training for Insurance Compliance (CALIFORNIA Clients)

The State of California mandates that all in-house guards or bouncers, known as Proprietary Private Security Officers (PSO) under the law, complete 16-hours of job-specific training as part of their licensing process. This requirement can be satisfied online through our interactive course. BSIS Approved 16-Hour Online PSO Training.

If you work as a "Bouncer" or security guard in California, you most likely have heard of the state security guard license nick-named the "Guard Card". And, it wouldn't be out of line to suggest that you might have even been told you need to get the Guard Card to work as a bar or club security guard.

Well, for over 25 years in the State of California, the Guard Card was the only license available for any type of security guard working in California. If you worked as a guard at a closed shopping mall, the Guard Card was the license you had to get. If you worked at a stadium or other sporting venue, you had to obtain the Guard Card. This was really the only license and training available, that is, until 2005.

Sample of PPSO Card

In 2005, California Senate Bill 194 was signed into law and created the second state license for security guards in California. This new license was created specifically for all In House Security Guards and was named the Proprietary Private Security Officer or PPSO License. Today it is more commonly known as the PSO license or card.

In the state of California, a PPSO (PSO) is defined as:

  • Someone who works in a bar, restaurant, or hotel as "security" and is not paid by a security company and
    • Your job requires that you interact with the public
    • You wear a distinctive uniform (i.e. matching polo shirts, black shirt and khaki pants, matching t-shirts)
    • You do not carry a firearm

  • Common PSO job titles include bouncer, doorman, concierge, host (if they check IDs), and in-house guard, loss prevention
  • PSOs may also include include in store loss prevention associates, unarmed hotel security, and other bar and nightclub personnel who meet the criteria outlined above

If you meet the criteria listed above and work in the state of California, you are legally required to get your PSO license by completing the 16-hour job specific PSO training. You can be held personally liable if you do not have your PSO license. The fine can be over $5000.

The other the security license that is common in California is the Guard Card. You need a Guard Card if you work for a security guard company, also known as Private Patrol Operator (PPO). The Guard Card starts with 8 hours of training with another 32 hours over the next 6 months for a total of 40 hours of generic training.

The bottom line is: If you work for a bar, restaurant, nightclub or any other alcohol service venue, you MUST have a Proprietary Private Security Officer license and not the Guard Card. If you work for a security guard company and are assigned duties by that company, you must have the Guard Card license.