If you are a club or bar owner in Connecticut, you may wonder how you should pick bouncers – is there a license or an exam to become one, or will any muscle man who walks through the door make do?

Bouncers throughout history have frequently been called on as muscle to eject unruly patrons, undesirable visitors or penniless diners, and even today, unlike security guards at well-peopled but relatively peaceful institutions such as shopping malls, security at night-life venues such as clubs and bars are much more likely to routinely confront potentially violent situations that involve people who display heightened aggression due either to alcohol or lust hormones.

The official title for a bouncer is “proprietary security officer.” The difference between proprietary security officers and security guards is that the former is hired directly by the company whose property he will be protecting, while the latter is contracted through a security service. Bars, clubs and similar establishments rely on bouncers to check IDs and constantly man the entrance, which makes it more rational for them to hire bouncers directly as full-time staff instead of dealing with a security company. In addition, such individuals can be hired for less than a fully-certified security guard, saving the business money.

This means that, barring states that do regulate bouncers, anyone who walks into the bar manager’s office can potentially become a bouncer, and most U.S. states don’t have licensing requirements for bouncers. However, there have been a number of notable cases of injury caused by unqualified bouncers who used excessive force. These cases can result in liability, not to mention bad publicity, for the establishment that employed the bouncer, and some law firms even specialize in litigating such cases. Incidents include serious injury caused by a bouncer in Muhlenberg Township, PA, in May of 2011; Worcester, MA, in February of that year; Lawton, Kansas in August of 2010. A notorious case occurred in New York City, where a bouncer actually caused the death of a college student.

These cases caused a number of states and locations to pass licensing requirements, California, Pennsylvania and New York City being among them. In NYC, for example, becoming a bouncer takes a background check and a license that costs $200, around twice as much as a full-fledged CT security guard license.

To reiterate: in most states, a security guard license isn’t necessary to become a bouncer; however, hiring personnel who have certification and, ideally, experience working in the security industry is a good way for bars and clubs to maintain a degree of professionalism and avoid damaging liability situations.