The Application Process For Police Officer Candidates
It isnt easy becoming a police officer. Potential candidates need to go through a stringent application process designed to weed out those who dont have what it takes to become outstanding police officers.
Police officers help maintain peace and order and ensure that members of the community stay safe. This job comes with immense responsibility. The application process itself is not for everyone.
Canadian police agencies generally follow the same process which involves a series of tests, checks and interviews, including:
- A written exam
- A polygraph exam
- A background investigation
Some of these tests require detailed paperwork but minimal preparation. For some tests, like the physical tests, you would be best prepared if you did a fitness training program, prior to, depending on your fitness level. Other tests, like the polygraph exam, require no preparation at all.
Applicants can be declined at any point in the stages listed above and even if a candidate passes every stage, an offer of employment is not guaranteed.
Once you have completed all assessments, your entire application package is reviewed and measured against other applicants to determine the most suitable candidates for the role as a police officer.
If you are recruited, you can expect a conditional offer of employment that allows you to advance to the final step before you become a police officer: cadet training.
Bachelors Degree In Law Enforcement
A law enforcement degree at the bachelors level typically takes four years to complete and can include many different topics or subjects. There are prototypical degrees such as criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement studies. But there are other majors that can hold police officers in good stead. For example, graduates with a degree in accounting are excellent candidates for a career in white collar crime investigations, while computer science majors can have an advantage if theyre interested in pursuing a career in computer forensics or cyber crimes.
Those in a bachelors degree program in a law-related field can expect to find courses like these:
Become A Police Officer: Step
In Georgia, the peace officer certification process is regulated by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council . Therefore, some of the processes and paperwork you must complete will be through POST, while others will be completed directly through the GPSTC regional academy where you will receive your training.
Students attending basic training who are not employed by a law enforcement agency are referred to aspre-service candidates. Below are the steps that pre-service candidates must take before being accepted into a police academy to become certified as a Peace Officer in the state of Georgia.
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How Does Police Academy Training Work
No matter which program you choose, before beginning work at a police department, you will have to enter a police academy for formal training. This training will consist of various elements that prepare you for life as a police officer, including training it the classroom, field training that walks you through the rigors of the day-to-day work, and in-service training that allows you to begin working with the public on a probationary basis. Heres more about police academy training:
The classroom curriculum will focus on a variety of subjects, ranging from the law itself to administrative and department procedures. Cadets will also learn not just what the law is, but how to apply it in the real world. For example, a police officer may know that probable cause is required for a warrant to conduct a search, but what about the exceptions where a warrant isnt needed? Or what should the officer do or say if an individual contests the validity of the warrant? Much of this classroom training will be necessary before field training can take place or to put the hands-on skills into context.
Ensure A Career As A Police Officer Is Right For You
As with any job, its important to take a hard look at what the position requires to determine whether the career path is really right for you. Not only is it important to consider the career in general, its also important to look at the education required, the on-the-job intensity that police officers might experience on a day-to-day basis, and other factors. Its also a good idea to consider advancement if you have an eye toward higher-level administrative or federal work, is becoming a police officer the best stepping stone? Here are some questions to ask before diving into training to become a police officer.
- Do I have the physical strength to restrain dangerous individuals or save innocent civilians?
- Can I effectively read peoples emotions and feelings, in particular when it comes to assessing an individuals credibility and danger to others?
- Can I make difficult decisions that often have no ideal outcomes?
- Am I comfortable taking on a leadership role, whether it be as a community resource or point of assurance during a crisis?
- Am I good at communicating with others, especially in high stress situations?
If you answered yes to these questions, you may be an excellent fit for a police officer career.
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Must Have A Valid Driver’s License
In addition to the high school diploma, you must also have a valid driver’s license. Law enforcement agencies also require a criminal background check, and a GED can qualify you for credit-bearing college coursework.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll look better to prospective employers. And while a high school diploma or GED can be accepted by many police departments, some do not.
The requirements for joining a police academy vary by state, but most academies require recruits to score 70 or better on exams. The police academy will also require that participants demonstrate physical competence.
They may be required to complete an obstacle course, a jump over a fence, or squeeze a trigger repeatedly. Those who complete the police academy should expect to serve as uniformed officers for a minimum of three years.
Whether you’re a local resident or a non-resident, the requirement for a police officer’s education may be limited. Depending on the local police department’s needs, the training may be based on your education or military experience.
Many police departments post sample exams online so applicants can practice before taking the test. Many even encourage officers to participate in other educational opportunities. Some police departments also publish sample exams and physical fitness requirements.
Complete The Police Academy
Training to become a police officer is known as the Police Academy. You will need to train at the police academy, which will include classroom work and field training.
The classroom work will include criminal investigation methods, laws and regulations, detainment procedures, policing, and public safety. In addition, you will learn skills in interpersonal communication, negotiation, and stress management.
Field training will include administrative duties, defense tactics, handling hazardous materials, using a firearm, proper use of force, and vehicle operations. You may receive allowances, benefits, and entitlements during this portion of the training.
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Police Officer Salary And Job Growth Expectations
Salaries in law enforcement vary significantly. Your salary will depend on whether you work in a rural area or a large city, whether you have seniority or youre fresh out of the academy, and whether you take overtime or leave at the end of your shift.
That said, the median detective and police officer salary nationwide was $63,380 as of May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . Those working for the federal government did especially well, earning an average of $87,130. You should also calculate the value of benefits into the compensation package. Police officers typically enjoy paid vacation, sick leave, medical and life insurance, and uniform allowances. Plus, thanks to pensions, they can often afford to retire at a younger age than most.
As for getting into the field, the BLS projects job growth of 5% nationally for police officers from 2018 to 2028, which is on the low side for such a typically stable occupation. However, this outlook depends heavily on city and state budgets, which can fluctuate. The low rate of growth will create stronger opportunities for police officer applicants who hold a bachelors degree in criminal justice or a related field.
The top 10 states for police and sheriff patrol officer earnings in 2018 were:
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Tattoos Body Art And Physical Alterations
All employees shall adhere to generally accepted business standards for appearance with respect to body art and physical alterations. Not a generally accepted standard for appearance in law enforcement would be facial tattoos or neck tattoos that are exposed even with a collared shirt, and some hand tattoos.
- Tattoos of an offensive or provocative nature are prohibited.
- Tattoos and brands visible on the body that are obscene and/or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination are prohibited.
- Employees are prohibited from displaying excessive tattoos or body paintings that would detract from an appropriate professional appearance.
- Visible physical alterations of the body that are not consistent with generally acceptable business standards of appearance are prohibited. .
- These provisions would not preclude employees from undergoing required medical procedures to ensure the health of the employee.
If you have questions concerning this policy, please contact our Recruitment Office at 615-862-7341.
Becoming A Police Officer
Every day more than 59,000 police officers around the state work to ensure residents safety. To join their ranks, you need to be a U.S. citizen whos at least 18 years old, and you must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. While your record may show minor traffic infractions, it should be clean of felonies or repeated misdemeanors.
Although the police academy you choose to attend may require more of you, these are the general steps youll take to certify as a police officer:
Pursuing Law Enforcement After The Military
The main advantage of pursuing law enforcement in the military is that you will gain experience in a field related to law enforcement. Most civilian police jobs are not as well-suited for those without a college degree. But you will still have an edge over non-military candidates by having military training.
If you are interested in becoming a police officer, you should consider pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in a field related to law enforcement. Consider specializing in criminology or social psychology. The Army has many employment opportunities for police officers, and many agencies will give you preference points for your military training.
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Associate Of Science Or Associate Of Arts
Following close behind the postsecondary certificate, according to O*NET OnLine, the second-most common degree recommended for cops is an associate degree, with 24% of respondents recommending this degree.4 An associate degree is a two-year degree that can be found as an Associate of Science , Associate of Applied Science , or an Associate of Arts , comprising about 60 credit hours of coursework. Degrees focusing on law enforcement, police science, criminal justice, or related fields like homeland security or forensic science provide the most useful training for prospective or current police officers. An associate degree in law enforcement may include courses such as Community Relations, Firearms, Criminal Procedures, Loss Prevention, and Forensic Investigation.
Police Academy And On
Another important aspect of police officer education requirements is on-the-job training, which includes police academy training. When officers are hired onto a police force, they typically attend a Peace Officer Standards and Training Council -certified police academy for a certain number of hours. During POST training, officer candidates learn skills relevant to policing, such as firearms training, defense tactics, community policing, traffic enforcement, and report writing. POST-certified basic law enforcement academies typically include three to six months of full-time training, for which officers are paid.
Some cities allow these POST training hours to be applied to the number of credit hours required to be hired as a peace officer. For example, the Sacramento Police Department requires 60 semester credit hours of college to be hired, but 25 of those hours can be applied after the police academy training is completed, so technically only 35 hours of college credits are needed beyond the academy training that all officers receive. After attending a police academy that satisfies the POST requirements, most officers begin in the patrol division of the force, where they continue to learn on the job as a new patrol officer in field training, working under the supervision of a more experienced officer. After completing field training, officers are typically assigned to their first independent patrol.
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Do You Know How To Improve Your Profile For College Applications
See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now it only takes 3 minutes and it’s 100% free.
As a high school student, you probably hear a great deal about the importance of getting into a good college. However, you likely spend significantly less time talking about your future goals from a career perspective. As a result, when you get to college, you might not know what major to pursue or even which courses of study to explore. This can lead to students taking a much longer path to get where they ultimately end up!
At CollegeVine, were passionate about helping high schoolers determine what careers will bring them happiness for the long haul. Thats why we started this career series, so you can learn more about potential professions that might suit you.
If youre wondering how to become a police officer, well go over the steps you should take, starting from high school.
Get Accepted & Paying Your Way
Admission requirements can vary widely depending on the type of program and institution offering it. Another consideration is how to pay for this education and training. During your application process, keep the following pointers in the back of your mind to help you get into the best program to meet your needs and goals as a future police officer.
Entry into various degree programs in law enforcement will all require some general points, such as completing an application, paying an application fee and presenting proof of high school graduation.
The associate degree program might require:
- A personal statement
- Transcripts from any other college courses taken
The bachelors degree might require additional information:
- An essay
- Transcripts from associate degree work
- Completion of certain prerequisites
- A resume of related experience
Application process & fees
Paying for Your Program
How much a training or educational program costs depends greatly upon the degree level you want to obtain. For instance, obtaining an associate degree will cost much less than a bachelors degree will. To learn more about financial aid options and how those will affect your financial bottom line, visit our online financial aid handbook:
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Pass The Necessary Law Enforcement Exams
You will need to pass all the necessary exams for your jurisdiction to start your career in law enforcement. Each state and department maybe a little bit different. Typically, you will need to pass a written exam, essay exam, and oral exam.
The written exam will include true-false and multiple-choice questions. It may also include short essay questions. This exam aims to assess your knowledge when it comes to reading comprehension, grammar, and math skills. You will also be tested on decision-making skills and logic when it comes to specific scenarios.
The essay section of the test will test your logic and show you can express thoughts clearly. It will be a long-form essay where you will provide evidence to support all of your claims.
You will need to take an oral exam, as well. This exam will be given by your hiring manager or from a member of the community. This test will evaluate your verbal communication skills and your presentation skills.
You will need to gain a passing grade on all the tests to gain acceptance into the police training academy.
Gain Experience As An Officer
Once trainees have graduated from the police academy, they can begin working for the police force on a conditional basis. New officers are placed on a 12-month probationary period in which they work as a police officer but receive continuous training from more experienced officers on a daily basis.
After their probationary period, they can take on a permanent position. Depending on the department they have chosen to work for, they may also be able to obtain additional training, acquire new skills and receive performance reviews that can help them advance their way into higher-ranking positions and police specialties.
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Law Enforcement Degrees & Training
|The police department I want to work for doesnt require anything more than a high school diploma. However, they prefer recruits to have some legal-related postsecondary college credits before enrolling in the academy.
|Im working full time as a police officer right now. I know I need to get another degree to increase my chances of getting promoted within my department, but my work schedule is so varied that I dont have the ability to take classes on a set schedule.
|I dont know exactly where Id like to end up as a police officer, but I do know I want the potential for advancement, to give myself the best chance of being hired and to be eligible for federal law enforcement positions, such as at the DEA or FBI.
|I hope to someday take a leadership position within law enforcement, even becoming a police captain or police chief.
|I would like to gain additional knowledge about law enforcement. Many departments I intend to apply to require applicants to have several dozen college credits, if not a full degree.