If you would like a job in security, providing invaluable protection to people, property, or valuables, then read on to find out more about how to kickstart your career.
Working in security requires a calm and level head, confidence, concentration, customer service skills, and excellent knowledge of public safety and security.
If you possess these skills, you may find that a career in security is rewarding and provides competitive rates of pay.
Those working in security roles are responsible for maintaining high levels of safety and security for the businesses they work for; therefore, they must received professional training and are competent in their role.
To ensure this, individuals cannot legally begin working in a job in private security until they have obtained an SIA licence.
In this article, we will explain what an SIA licence is and how you can get one.
What is an SIA licence?
If you work in the private security industry, then you are required by law to hold an SIA licence that proves you are appropriately trained and qualified to carry out your role.
“Private security” refers to any business that provides security services without government oversight.
SIA licences are issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), an organisation that was created in 2001 to regulate the UK’s private security industry. The SIA was created by the government, it is a non-departmental public body that reports to the Home Secretary.
Government guidance states that you will need an SIA licence if the work you will be doing is part of a ‘contract for services’ and involves ‘licensable activity’.
It is the SIA’s responsibility to ensure that high standards are maintained in the private security industry to improve public safety. This is achieved by ensuring that anyone working in the private security industry is ‘fit and proper’ to do so by carrying out background checks on individuals and making sure that they have completed the relevant training required.
SIA licencing is required by security operatives working in a wide variety of different roles including:
- Door supervisors
- Close protection officers
- Vehicle immobilisers
- Key holders
- Transiting cash and valuables
- CCTV operatives
The SIA licence either comes in the form of a credit card-sized badge or a letter, depending on which type of licence it is.
The SIA badge features your name, photo, and an 11-digit SIA licence number.
What are the different types of SIA licence?
Holding a valid SIA licence can be beneficial to those working in a huge variety of different private security roles and businesses. Even if you do not work in a frontline security role, an SIA licence can help to identify you as a professional and credible contractor, employee, or business.
There are two main types of SIA licence; a frontline licence and a non-frontline licence.
Frontline licences are for those working in frontline security roles like security guards, close protection officers, and those that work transiting cash and valuables.
Non-frontline licences cover those working in roles where they manage, supervise, or employ frontline staff but don’t carry out a frontline role themselves.
If you work managing or employing frontline staff but sometimes perform frontline duties yourself, then you will need a frontline licence.
Which SIA licence is best?
There is no one type of SIA licence that is superior to the other.
The most suitable SIA licence for each person depends on which field they want to work in within the security industry. It’s important to be sure of the type of role you wish to work in before you complete training for an SIA licence as the different training courses are tailored to specific roles and so are not usually transferable.
If your role involves more than one type of licensable activity, then you will need to hold multiple licences to cover each type of activity.
Can you work without an SIA badge?
In most cases, it is against the law in the UK to work in a licensable private security job without having first completed the relevant training course and gained a valid SIA licence.
Anyone required to have a badge who is found working in the industry without one could receive a penalty, fines of up to £5000, or even imprisonment for up to six months.
Frontline security officers should display a valid SIA badge whilst they are on duty unless their job involves covert activity, in this instance, they do not need to display their licence.
You may not need an SIA licence to carry out your role if you are directly employed and working ‘in-house’ for a company unless you are working as a door supervisor when a licence is still required.
You may also be able to begin work whilst you are waiting for your licence once the status of your application has been marked as ‘checks in progress’. To do so, you would need to be working for an SIA Approved Contractor (ACS company) and hold a Licence Dispensation Notice (LDN).
What does SIA training involve?
The training course that an individual is required to complete to attain an SIA licence depends on the role that they wish to work in.
A variety of different SIA training courses are available, and individuals must pick the training that is most relevant to their role.
The five main types of SIA training course are:
- Door supervisor – Training for those that wish to work as door supervisors, providing businesses with a safe working environment by preventing entry of unwanted people.
- Close protection – Training for those that wish to work as a close protection officer guarding one or more person against assault or injury in a variety of environments and scenarios.
- CCTV – Training for those who wish to work in CCTV surveillance. This course covers how to use CCTV surveillance technology, how to monitor activity on CCTV, and how to identify suspicious activity.
- Cash and valuables in transit – This training covers the correct methods to safely and securely transit cash and valuables to protect them against damage or theft.
- Security guard – Security guard training covers how to safely monitor and patrol an area and search people and their property. It also teaches how to identify a security risk and safely de-escalate the conflict.
SIA training courses vary in length depending on the type of course you choose.
There are usually two assessments at the end of the course; a multiple choice exam and a practical assessment.
Are there any requirements for attaining an SIA licence?
To save time and hassle, individuals should check that they meet the requirements for an SIA licence before applying for one.
SIA training is open to anyone that meets the following requirements:
- Be over 18 years old.
- Pass enhanced background checks.
- Pass a criminal record check.
- Have the right to work in the UK.
- Hold a recognised and valid security training qualification.
Individuals with criminal records may still be able to hold an SIA licence, but the SIA has the final decision on this.
They will decide whether they deem a person with a criminal record to be a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold an SIA licence by looking at:
- Whether the person’s criminal offences are relevant.
- The sentence received for the offence.
- How recently the offences occurred.
Payment for an SIA licence application is non-refundable, so it’s wise to use the SIA’s Criminal Record Indicator tool to see if an application is likely to be successful before making a payment.
How much does an SIA licence cost?
Both types of SIA licences, frontline and non-frontline, cost £190. Any training required to attain an SIA licence must be paid for separately from this cost.
Individuals that require more than one type of SIA licence for their role can get all additional licences that they require discounted by 50%.
How long do SIA licences last?
The best practices, rules and regulations surrounding security are constantly being reviewed and updated and so training in the industry must be updated regularly accordingly to ensure that all knowledge is refreshed and up-to-date.
Because of this, SIA licences only last for three years before they must be renewed. You may apply to renew your licence up to four months before it is due to expire. The cost to renew your licence is the same as applying for a new one, £190.
How can you get an SIA licence?
A career in private security can be varied, flexible, and well-paid.
If you’re considering a career working in security and want to know how to get a SIA licence, then you should complete the following steps to get trained, qualified, and licenced, allowing you to then start looking for work in the private security sector.
Check that you meet all the requirements for an SIA licence – Before applying for an SIA licence it’s wise to read up on the criteria for getting one to ensure that you meet all the requirements. You can find the details of the criteria in the document ‘Get Licenced’ on the government website here.
Complete a professional, licence-linked, SIA training course – To be approved for a licence you need to have first completed a relevant SIA-linked training course. You will need to decide what kind of security role you wish to work in before selecting the relevant accredited SIA training course.
Apply for a licence on the SIA website – Once you have completed your training, you can apply for an SIA licence on the government website. Once you have submitted your application, the SIA will usually get back to you within 25 days.
Complete identity checks – As part of your application process you will need to provide documents that prove your identity and address. You can find details of the types of documents that are accepted on the government website here.
Wait for your licence to arrive – Providing your application is successful, all you have to do now is sit back and wait for your licence to arrive in the post. Licences usually arrive within 14 days of being granted.
How can you get a free SIA licence?
Getting trained and licenced for a private security job can cost around £400-£500, sometimes more depending on the type of training required.
Whilst these prices are accessible to some people, they are not affordable for everyone. In some circumstances, it may be possible to receive funding for either your SIA training, licence, or both.
Funding may be available to people who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Aged between 19 and 24.
- Unemployed for at least a year.
- Claiming a State Benefit like Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, or Universal Credit.
Funding may be available from one of the following:
- Your employer or future employer.
- The Skill Funding Agency.
- The Job Centre.
Free SIA training courses with Dynamis Education
Here at Dynamis Education Centre, we are providers of high-quality, professional training courses. We are a nationally accredited company with many years of experience in the industry. We regularly run a variety of different free, funded SIA training courses, including SIA Door Supervisor training and CCTV Operator and Event Security Operations training.
For more information about our upcoming funded SIA training courses, get in touch with our team by calling us for free on 08000242442