West Virginia: Unarmed Security Officers

Legislation and Details for West Virginia


West Virginia Code
Chapter 30. Professions and Occupations.
Article 18. Private Investigative and Security Services.

Authorizing Department

Office of the Secretary of State
State Capitol Building
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone: (304) 558-8000
Fax: (304) 558-0900
Email: licensing@wvos.gov

Branch Office in Charleston:
1615 East Washington Street
Charleston, WV 25311-2126
Main: (304) 558-8000
Fax: (304) 558-8381

Branch Office in Clarksburg:
Secretary of State
200 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Phone: (304) 367-2775
Fax: (304) 627-2243

Branch Office in Martinsburg:
229 East Martin Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Phone: (304) 356-2654
Fax: (304) 260-4360

Official Website

Licensure and License Fees

In West Virginia private security business are subject to two distinct forms of licensure: 1) Individual Security Guard License and 2) Security Guard Firm License.

Individual Security Officers who are exclusively employed by one employer or licensed security firm need not to apply for an individual license.

A Security guard means a person who conducts business as a security guard independently from a security guard firm. A security guard does not include a person who is employed exclusively and regularly by only one employer in connection with the affairs of such employer.

See: WV Code §30-18-7

Employees of a Security firm do not require licensure. The licensee is responsible for supervising any employees and prohibited from authorizing any individual or employee to conduct security guard business if such individual does not comply with the requirements of this section.

The individual employee must meet the requirements outline in WV Code §30-18-5 except for subdivision (7) which outline experience requirements.
See: WV Code §30-18-7

West Virginia, while not licensing individual officers, does permit an individual applicant to apply as an individual providing security services as well as an
individual who directs, owns or operates a security firm. This process is labeled “combined” licensure. For the particulars, click here.

West Virginia now has an online portal where many of the steps and requirements can be fulfilled.

See: WV One Stop Portal

I. Security Guard Employee:
No mandated fees.

II. Individual Security Guard License:
According to the West Virginia Secretary of State website:

Fee for Individual Security Guard Registration: $150 for resident, $550 non-resident

Fee for Renewals: Same prices as listed above. The license expires after one year

See: Information for individual security guard licenses

Foreign Jurisdiction Licensure

West Virginia requires in-state licensure to conduct security business.

Age Requirements

I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License
Applicant must be at least 18 years of age
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(1)


I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License
Applicant must be a legal citizen of the United States or an alien legally residing in the United States
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(2)


According to the West Virginia Secretary of State website:

The applicant must have one year of verified, full time employment conducting security guard business or conducting the private investigation business working for a licensed firm; or one year of substantially equivalent training or experience.


I. Security Guard Employee:

II. Individual Security Guard License:
An individual is exempt from the requirements to be licensed if he or she is:

•   employed exclusively and regularly by only one employer in connection with that employer’s affairs; or
•   employed by one or more licensed security guard firms.

This exemption does not apply to a security guard business
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(7)

Permit Required

Not required

Requirement to carry an ID card

The legislation does not mention this requirement.

Moral Character

I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License
The applicant must be of good moral character.
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(6)


I. Security Guard Employee:
For every employee or individual who conducts security guard business under the authority of a security guard firm license, the holder of such license must maintain a recent full-face photograph and one complete set of fingerprints on file at such firm’s central business location in this state. Upon request, the holder of the firm license must release the photographs and fingerprints to the Secretary of State.

II. Individual Security Guard License
Effective June 2016, Security Guard applicants are now required to be fingerprinted for both state and federal background checks.

All Private Investigator and Security Guard applicants will be required to submit their fingerprints for initial registration and renewal through MorphoTrust at an IdentoGo Center.

In State Applicants: The Office of the West Virginia Secretary of State will no longer be providing fingerprint cards to in state applicants. Fingerprints will need to be obtained from MorphoTrust/IdentoGo instead of from local or state police. MorphoTrust electronically captures and transmits the digital fingerprints to the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), for a state and federal criminal history check.

The applicant is required to schedule the fingerprinting appointment AFTER the Secretary of State’s Office has received the application and other required materials, and after the applicant has received the instructional letter on fingerprint procedures.

In state applicants can register and find a location for fingerprinting by visiting identogo.com and clicking on West Virginia, or by calling 1-855-766-7746.

The fee of the fingerprint processing is included in the application fee.

See: Individual Security Guard License Application Form

Substance Abuse

I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License

Applicant cshall not suffer from narcotics addiction or dependence or habitual drunkenness.
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(5)

Mental Health

I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License
Applicant must not have not been declared incompetent by reason of mental defect or disease by any court of competent jurisdiction unless said court has subsequently determined that the applicant’s competency has been restored.
See: WV Code §30-18-5(a)(4)

Criminal History Background Check

I. Security Guard Employee and II. Individual Security Guard License
Applicant must not:
1.   Have been convicted of a felony in this state or any other state or territory. 
2.   Have been convicted of any of these crimes:

•   Illegally using, carrying or possessing a pistol or other dangerous weapon;
•   Making or possessing burglar’s instruments;
•   Buying or receiving stolen property;
•   Entering a building unlawfully;
•   Aiding an inmate’s escape from prison;
•   Possessing or distributing illicit drugs; or
•   Any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or for which dishonesty of character is a necessary element.

See: WV Code §30-18-5(a) subsection (8) and (9)

Although a Security Guard Employee and an applicant for an Individual Security Guard License shall adhere to the same standards listed above, a background check is only conducted on applicants for licensure:
The applicant for licensure shall meet all requirements necessary to accomplish the state and national history record check, including authorizing the Secretary of State, the West Virginia State Police and the Federal Bureau of investigation to use all records submitted and produced for the purpose of screening the applicant for a license.
See: WV Code §30-18-10(d)

The Security Guard Employee shall authorize the Secretary of State to review the records held by the department of public safety for any convictions that may be on record for such employee.
See: WV Code §30-18-7(b)(2)

Personal References

I. Security Guard Employee:
Nome required.

II. Individual Security Guard License
Character references from 5 reputable citizens who have known you for at least 5 years preceding the application and the references must be written for the purpose of the application.
See: WV Code §30-18-6(g)(1)

Training Requirements

I. Security Guard Employee:
The employing licensee is responsible for providing education or training to their employees.
See: WV Code §30-18-7(a)

II. Individual Security Guard License
The rules that guide licensing in West Virginia indicate that proof, by documentation, “may” need submission in the overall application for an individual licensee. That instruction provides:

Provide copies of the documentation proving that you have met the training and/or experience requirements.

Documentation may include:

•   A transcript showing successful completion of at least thirty semester hours of credit in investigative or law enforcement studies or a comparable training program; or

•   A sworn statement (under penalty of false swearing) signed by one of the principals of a licensed private investigative or security guard firm which specifies the time you were employed (hours per week and number of weeks), or evidence of equivalent law enforcement employment. If all requirements are to be met by this experience, the work must include a minimum of 32 hours per week for 50 weeks; or

•   A combination of transcripts and experience certified as provided above. To determine if the requirements are met, divide the number of appropriate college credits by sixty to determine the percentage of the total requirement met by education. For example, 12 credit hours / 30 hours = 40% met by education. This leaves 60% to be met by experience. Multiply the percentage to be met by experience times 50 weeks. For example 60% x 50 weeks = 30 weeks (minimum 32 hours per week) of experience.

Information for an Individual Security Guard Licens

Exam Requirement

The legislation does not outline this requirement.

Child Support

II. Individual Security Guard License:
All applicants must complete a child support obligations form that is included in the application.

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