The expert knowledge examination according to § 34a of the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act is an entry-level qualification for employees in the private security industry. It serves as proof of basic knowledge, especially with regard to fundamental legal aspects relevant to working in the guard and security service. In addition, the successfully passed expert knowledge examination with proof from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is a prerequisite for carrying out special guarding tasks and being allowed to become self-employed as a security contractor.
A certificate of competence is required for the following activities
As a security guard (employee), you need proof that you have successfully passed an examination of competence at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) (according to § 34a GewO) if you provide security in the entrance area of discotheques in the hospitality industry (bouncers), patrols in public traffic areas (e.g. city patrols), patrols in areas with actual public traffic, activities to protect against shoplifters (department store or store detectives). (e.g. city patrols), patrols in areas of the premises with actual public traffic, activities to protect against shoplifters (shop detectives), guarding of asylum and refugee accommodation (only in a managerial capacity) as well as guarding of large events with protected access (only in a managerial capacity).
The purpose of the expert knowledge examination
Why there is the expert knowledge examination has several reasons. When private individuals — including employees of security companies — guard other people’s lives or property, this entails special duties and a great responsibility. As a security guard, you have to know your rights and the legal limits, i.e. what is allowed and what is forbidden. On the other hand, due to their position as guarantor, they are obliged to prevent damage to the client. In contrast to the police, you do not have any special powers and must therefore be able to weigh up exactly to what extent you are allowed to interfere with the rights of third parties in a particular situation. If you go too far, you run the risk of being charged with offences such as deprivation of liberty or bodily harm. If you sleep on duty and do not comply with your duty to protect, you can also end up in court for committing an offence by omission if you cause harm. For these reasons, among others — listed here as examples — it is important to acquire the specialised knowledge in order to later have the necessary confidence to act in the guarding business.
Both Jörg Zitzmann as well as Kai Deliomini are very well known in the private security industry.
Among other things, both are represented in IHK examination committees in the field of protection and security, are active as authors of books for the preparation of the expert knowledge examination and are represented with many helpful videos on YouTube and in podcasts.
With not infrequent failure rates between 30 and 50%, the question naturally arises: What’s the reason?
Some factors for success or failure are obvious. Some problems can be solved quickly and easily, some simply require intensive learning, practice and perseverance. Before I go on to point out what I consider to be the main (mis)success factors, here is the very interesting conversation between Jörg Zitzmann and Kai Deliomini on YouTube:
My top 5 reasons why so many people fail the written and oral IHK specialist knowledge examination
From my experience, the following factors are the main reasons for failure with the “34a-licence”:
Lack of motivation / lack of interest
Many participants do not see any added value in the exam. They have no real interest in the content, so they don’t want to learn at all. This is particularly pronounced among people who are “sent” by their employer or the employment agency and are not actually interested in the private security sector at all. But even if the participation itself is of their own accord: The examination is often not seen as an opportunity but as a necessary evil. Lack of motivation and interest, however, are diametrically opposed to exam success.
No sufficient preparation of the content
Some people take the exam lightly. Multiple-choice questions with pre-set answers to tick off and only 50% necessary correct answers to pass — what could go wrong, you ask yourself. But far from it. The legal topics in particular are tough. In addition, there is excitement, especially in the oral exam, and questions where you may have to think a little outside the box. If you don’t have the necessary knowledge and thus the confidence to act, you will quickly be eliminated. Comprehensive preparation is the be-all and end-all for exam success!
Insufficient knowledge of German
A lot has already been asked and said about German language skills. One thing is certain: many people who work in the security sector are not native speakers of German. Multilingualism is often important for the job, but so is sufficient knowledge of German. This is because the examination is offered exclusively in German and you must also be able to communicate confidently in German in your everyday work as a security guard. Legal texts are written in difficult language, “officialese” is usually just as difficult to understand, and the exam questions sometimes depend on individual words that can change the meaning in one direction or another or provide hints for solutions.
Structure and manner of the examination are unclear
Many people are not completely clear about the framework conditions of the exam. But only if you know which topics are important and how, and how the exam is structured, can you prepare for it specifically and efficiently. For example, there are topics that you can quickly get over, which can usually be answered with common sense. Some topics, on the other hand, count twice and some require more intensive study. In addition, there are empirical values for the oral examination and tactical tips for working through test questions, which should be conveyed by a competent lecturer or author, for example.
Difficult individual conditions
Of course, people are different. Everyone has different personal prerequisites and the general conditions (e.g. family obligations, free time for learning, learning environment, etc.) also play a significant role in success and failure. You may also know people who can memorise things with a “quick glance” and recall this knowledge at the snap of a finger. Others, on the other hand, find this significantly more difficult. Some people also have no problem at all speaking in front of others in an exam situation, most are naturally tense, some participants suffer downright from exam anxiety.
Ask yourself to what extent the points above apply to you, how you can avoid mistakes in your preparation and compensate for any deficits. You can find more information on this right here in the subject knowledge information portal numerous tips and Links to other sites or media such as YouTube.
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News always in the blog
Also new is the weblog where you are currently reading this post. I will inform you here in short posts whenever there is news about the 34a professional qualification examination!
My name is Hannes Fichtel, I am an examiner in various examination boards in the field of protection & security at the IHK. I have been working in private security since 2006. Starting with the instruction according to § 34a GewO and the training as a specialist for protection and security, I have developed further via the advanced training as a master for protection and security (IHK) up to the bachelor and master studies in the security industry. I run the expertise infoportal and am happy to answer any questions you may have!