How To: Become A Bouncer

In 2011, City Council enacted a law with requirements for bouncers, one that prohibits bars and other places from employing security who have not completed a training course.

Security jobs are one gateway to the workforce for those who may not have completed higher levels of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wage for security personnel in the alcohol-service industry is about $13 an hour while casinos and the gaming industry pay an average of $14.33 an hour.

A provision of the law allows some time for a prospective bouncer to get the training. It gives a 45-day window for registering as a trained bouncer with the city’s managing director’s office.

There are several certified trainers that the city approves. The city is updating the list after pointed out most of the entities were no longer in existence.

One of the original trainers still does it though. Colin Ryan trains bouncers in nearby Wayne, PA.

“The city mandates a 16-hour course,” said Ryan, who recently retired as a police officer after 18 years. “About two-thirds of our course is lecture and one-third hands-on.”

By law, the course is required to cover topics such as knowledge of the law as it pertains to bouncing, alcohol management, first age, crowd control, age verification, conflict resolution and other skill sets.

Ryan also adds a 25-question test to his training that is not required by the city. He noted it’s important to understand that the job is not about being physical.

“It’s sales, it’s being a good ambassador,” he said. “It’s people skills. You’re the first thing and last thing the customer sees. You should make them feel safe. It’s not a toughest-guy-in-the-room thing.”

There are two ways to gain employment as a certified bouncer as required by law.


How To:

The first way would be to try to find a job as a bouncer and have the employer send you for training or get trained yourself after securing employment.

The second way would entail getting trained first and then apply for jobs with the certification in hand.

If an individual chooses to seek certification oneself, whether before or after hiring, they should look on the managing director’s office webpage for the updated trainers list. It’s a good idea to call around as trainings are not given every day and there could be a several week wait at certain locations.

Once a training is complete, the trainer should notify the managing director’s office on your behalf. By law, bouncers are then required to take eight hours of refresher instruction every two years.


-Text by Bob Stewart.

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