How to Become a Police Officer?

Become a Police Officer


Many people aspire to become a police officer and serve their country. The duties of a police officer entail a variety of jobs.

The diverse activities which a police officer performs depend on the training they received, appointment, and duration of the term.

A police officer swears to perform duties for the welfare of their community.

They go to the scene of the crime, pick up shreds of evidence, interview the suspects and witnesses, create reports regarding the crime, issue warrants, and arrest people.

The profession may compel the individual to work with a K-19 unit. With this unit, the police officer has to handle crimes related to drugs and weapons.

They visit scenes where the weapons are discovered in a vehicle or property.

In other situations, a police officer may work with a SWAT team. With this team, the individual learns various tactics and strategies to combat dangerous situations.

It mainly involves supervising in a particular area. With promotional job opportunities, police officers handle cases related to theft and murders.

If such responsibilities entice you, then you can pursue the career of a police officer.

Many questions may come to your mind like- how can I become a detective? How long does it take to become a police officer? What are the requirements to become a police officer? How long does the police academy take?

This article will discuss in detail the requirements that are needed to become a police officer.

High School Diploma

The minimum qualification that a person should have to become a police officer is a high school diploma or GED. GED credentials have the same weightage as a high school diploma.

Besides the high school credential, the prospective police officers should enroll themselves for further formal credentials.

Also Read: Most In-Demand Jobs that Don’t Need a Degree

Requirements for Becoming a Police Officer

Police carsTo apply for a career as a police officer, the minimum age limit for the applicants is 18 to 21 years. The prospective police officer should have a transparent and clean criminal record.

They should be a citizen of the US with a driver’s license. However, some states may admit individuals in this profession even if they have a record of petty crimes.

Bachelors Degree

Do you need a college degree to be a cop?

Though the minimum qualification is a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree is helpful in various ways.

Firstly, it helps you to be at an advantage over the strategic competitors. Hence, it increases your chances of getting an entry into a police academy.

Secondly, with the aid of a bachelor’s degree, you can increase your future employment opportunities.

People with higher qualifications are likely to get admitted to better job opportunities. With a better job, you can always get higher pay.

Thus, a bachelor’s degree will give you a good return on investment in your future years.

Thirdly, many other law enforcement organizations admit candidates who have a Bachelor’s Degree, Associate’s Degree, or another post-secondary thing.

Lastly, to get a higher law enforcement position at the federal level, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. These positions are in the FBI, US Fish and Wildlife Service, etc.

Also Read: Postsecondary Nondegree Award: Definition and Programs

Application Procedure

Police badgeOnce your formal credentials are completed, you can start your application procedure into a police academy.

This will require approximately three to four months because police academies receive a large number of applications regularly. But, different police academies may have different durations.

You should fill the application accurately and cautiously. Any grammatical error or spelling mistake can exhibit your amateurism and reduce your chances of getting entry into the Academy of your choice.

You should not write any invalid information in the application form because it will lead to your disqualification.

There are various background checks done for which you will have to substantiate your information.

Also Read: How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Hiring Process

Just like the application procedure, the hiring process also takes three to four months. However, the duration depends upon the Police Academy.

The hiring process initiates once the Academy passes your application. It is a daunting task to clear the hiring process as it consists of several tests.

These tests include written, physical, polygraph, psychological, and medical tests. With the help of these tests, the recruiters can validate your skills, talents, and information about the application.

Apart from the tests, there is an oral board meant to further check the information given in the application.

Once the tests are over, the hiring process requires the individuals to give an interview under a higher officer. This officer decides on your entry into the Police Academy.

They give preference to people with higher postsecondary credentials.

Entrance Exam

You should obtain a passing score in the entrance exam to get an entry into a police Academy. The entrance exam depends upon the Police Academy.

There are various entrance exams like ASSET, COMPASS, and Law Enforcement Examination (LEE).

Click here for a free entrance test preparation kit from the NYPD!

Police Academy

The Police Academy is one of the most important attributes to become a police officer. However, you should remember that even in this phase, you can be rejected in case of bad performance.

The average time period of training at a Police Academy is 19 weeks. But the duration differs from state to state. In San Diego, the training at the Police Academy is for six months.

The Police Academy provides extensive training to build up the physique, endurance, and strength of the prospective police officer.

There is a fixed schedule in the Police Academy which compels the individuals to attend classes in an organized way.

The theoretical knowledge of the classroom will help you learn computer skills, state law, investigative strategies, and report writing.

The practical skills will help the prospective police officers learn first aid, driving, fighting techniques, how to use a gun, evading techniques, etc.

There will be times when you may get punishments in the form of extra physical exercise. However, in such situations, you should maintain your composure and never lose your self-worth.

To substantiate your performance during the training, there are various tests in the Police Academy. The passing score of the test differs from state to state.

Most of the states require the individuals to secure at least 70% in the tests to pass the Police Academy. However, some states have a limit of 80%.

Before getting entry into an Academy, the individuals partake in various physical tests. The Academy is meant to refine the students physically and hence, students also need to clear physical tests here.

The students will be required to perform several exercises during their course of study at the Police Academy.

The physical test of a Police Academy helps determine the strength of the prospective police officers.

These tests require the individuals to perform various activities like climbing and jumping over the fence, crossing a path full of various obstacles, chasing an individual, firing a gun, transferring a body from one end to another, etc.

On the Job Training

police uniformOnce you clear the Police Academy, you have to undergo a probation period.

The probation period refers to on the job training, where the individual works under the supervision of a senior police officer.

The probation helps the individual to acquire the required experience to work in the field.

If the person performs well during the probation then the period may get over within three to four months.

However, if the authorities think that the individual needs more practice, then they may increase the probation period from six months to a year. So, the average time taken for job training is six months.

The most crucial attribute of the probation period is that an individual can even be rejected during this period. Hence, you should be able to give your best without making any mistakes.

Once the probation period is over, you are a full-fledged police officer ready to enforce the statutes. In the end, you will receive a job under the Department.

Initially, it is better to work with a partner and gain more experience necessary for edgy situations.

Thus, the overall journey to becoming a police officer is of approximately 5 to 6 years. The duration may differ according to your formal credentials and job training.

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