Be a Bouncer? Essential Facts – What’s Involved in the Job

Want to be a bouncer? This is the place to explore the pros and cons. Learn here about bouncers. What they can do and can’t do legally.


I.   Bouncers

II. California Bouncers

III.  Resources

I. Bouncers

Bouncers work at bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, concerts and other places needing security. The duties of a bouncer typically include checking IDs for legal age. Prohibiting entry to substance-impaired people. Dealing with aggressive or otherwise unacceptable behavior. And, in general, providing safety and security to patrons and other employees.

Contrary to popular myth, bouncers can’t simply beat up people who are causing problems. That’s because the law limits bouncer’s behavior. Often the presence of a bouncer is enough to deter patrons from unacceptable actions. In fact, most bouncers deal with situations verbally.

Bouncers may legally do a bouncer

    • Check IDs.
    • Refuse entry to people who are too young or too intoxicated. Or who are known not to follow venue policies.
    • Issue warnings.
    • Require patrons to leave.
    • Use reasonable force to remove patrons from site.
    • Defend themselves with physical force.
    • Break up fights.
    • Protect innocent bystanders from violence.
    • Detain with reasonable force people committing a crime.

Unless they face physical threats of harm, bouncers may not do this.

    • Strike a patron.
    • Restrain anyone with a chokehold, “joint lock”, or other technique.
    • Use any weapon or pepper spray

II. California Bouncers

be a bouncerWant to be a bouncer in California? The state requires every bouncer to be a Proprietary Private Security Officer (PSO). A PSO works for a single employer. The PSO’s primary duty is to provide security services for that one employer.

A PSO must wear a distinctive uniform clearly identifying the person as a security officer.

Such officers must be adults. That is, be at least 18 years of age. They must have no criminal background. This is checked through the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI. But people with criminal convictions may still apply. Officials make registration decisions on a case-by-case basis.

PSOs must carry a valid and current PSO registration card, or a copy of official approval. But a PSO may not carry a deadly weapon.

A PSO must complete 16 hours of training in security officer skills. This training consists of two hours of Powers to Arrest. Two hours of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Awareness. Also twelve hours of other security related content. The course syllabus is on-line at Training Syllabus, Proprietary Private Security Officers.

Unlicensed bouncers in California face fines of up to $5,000.


People who may work as a bouncer in California without being a PSO include these.

    • An employee of the US, of California, or of one of the State’s political subdivision.
    • A patrol special police officer.
    • An employee of a charitable nonprofit in California.
    • A current or retired peace officer.

III. Resources: Be a Bouncer

    • This site gives no advice. Please see a lawyer for legal matters.