How to Become a Police Officer
8 Things you need to become a police officer
- U.S. Citizenship.
- Meet the minimum age requirement of at least 21 years of age.
- Driver's license.
- Pass a criminal background check.
- College coursework- most police academies require an average of 60 credits, community college programs are a good place to earn the required credits. Some police jobs do require an undergraduate degree, typically in Criminal Justice.
- Apply to and be accepted by the police academy. Provide all required documents and pass a written exam.
- Meet or exceed the physical fitness requirements.
- Complete the police academy curriculum consisting of 12-14 weeks of classes and training in law, first aid, self-defense, firearms, investigations, traffic management, and emergency response procedures.
How long does it take to become a police officer?
It typically takes a total of 2 and a half to 4 and a half years to become a police officer. This includes college coursework, police academy curriculum, and other training.
What education, certification or license is required to be a police officer?
You will need a minimum of a high school diploma, or an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice depending on local requirements and successful completion of a police academy program. Police officers must have CPR and first aid certification and be skilled in the use and care of firearms. A driver's license is required, and in some cases, a special motorcycle license will be required.
What skills are required to be a successful police officer?
- Interpersonal skills
- Empathy and compassion for others
- Effective communication (speaking another language is helpful!)
- Clear and concise writing
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- The ability to remain calm
- Working knowledge of public safety software/systems
- Understanding of regulatory reporting requirements
- Good physical condition
What does a police officer do?
Police officers are individuals empowered by the government to enforce the law. They apprehend criminals, assist and ensure the safety of the public and prevent and detect crime.
The day to day duties of a police officer are varied and will differ depending on location and unit. Patrol officers are responsible for monitoring an assigned area to prevent and discover crime and to enforce regulations. Officers respond to calls regarding crime or disturbances and take necessary action, conduct investigations, collect evidence, make arrests, testify in court, issue citations and complete reports/forms and routine paperwork. Police ensure public safety and aid in emergency situations including fire, medical and search and rescue.
What does a police officer earn on average?
Salary range for a Police Officer
$52,300 to $61,000
Are there many job opportunities available for a police officer?
Explore job openings for police officers here.
What is the lifestyle of a police officer?
The typical entry-level police officer is a patrol officer. You may be assigned to traffic duty, respond to an emergency, or investigate reports of a robbery. Police Officers may have to work various shifts nights, weekends, holidays and do not have a typical 9 to 5 schedule. There may be times when you must perform boring tedious tasks, like filling out paperwork or conducting surveillance. There may be other times when you are in dangerous or risky situations. Police officers are subject to a lot of difficult situations when people are killed or injured that may have an emotional impact on them. The public does not always treat police officers with the respect they deserve so an officer needs to develop a thick skin. Police officers usually form close bonds with their colleagues, in part due to the dangerous nature of the job.