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Can You Be A Police Officer Without A Degree

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Why We Need It

Police Jobs : How to Become a Police Officer Without a Degree

Policing Vision 2025 written and agreed by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners highlighted:

  • a need for consistency, accreditation and defined roles
  • that roles need specific skills and knowledge, backed by qualifications

For a long time forces have recruited differently, without standard entry requirements, learning provision and support. The service recognised the need to standardise these areas as a priority. The PEQF also supports the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, widening the gateway to, and broadening the appeal of, joining the service.

There is increasing demand on the police to do more than just solve crime and catch the bad guys. Its understood that learning and support for new recruits will help them to start well and stay in a job that recognises their level of expertise and values their contribution.

How To Become A Police Officer: Your Step

By on 02/10/2020

There are plenty of Hollywood movies out there that detail the rigorous physical training involved in becoming a cop. You might even be able to picture the obstacle courses, shooting ranges and tactical scenario training rooms. These are all important elements of police officer trainingbut they only make up one portion of the process.

Given the high level of responsibility and trust afforded to law enforcement, the standards for becoming a police officer are higher than what youll likely find in many careers. The specific standards and process will vary slightly based on the state, county or town youre applying to work in, but there are a few universal requirements to become a police officer you should be familiar with.

If youre wondering how to become a police officer, youre in the right place. Keep reading for a high-level breakdown of the path to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Associate Degree In Criminal Justice

There are many ways to approach careers in criminal justice. You might be thinking about a career in law enforcement or security working the court system or even social services and counseling. Whatever your passion, when you pursue your associate degree in Criminal Justice, youll learn about:

  • The history, theory, and practice of criminal law
  • Criminal procedure and process
  • Ethical issues in criminal justice
  • The relationship between the criminal justice system and the communities it serves

With an associate degree in Criminal Justice, youll be prepared to enter a rich career with many possible paths ahead.

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What Jobs Can You Get With An Associate Degree In Criminal Justice

Whether your dream is to work in business, the nonprofit sector, or even government, an associate degree in

When you work toward an associate degree in Criminal Justice, youll be working toward a deeper knowledge of the world we live in. Youll also be preparing yourself for a stable, rewarding career that will grow as you do. As you study, youll discover where your specific passions lie and youll develop the skills to pursue them. Below are just a few of the exciting job opportunities that await you.

How Hard Is Police Academy

Can you be a police officer without a college degree ...

The police academy is, above all, an educational institution. In classroom settings, youll learn the basics of law enforcement, crime prevention, patrol, conflict management, and investigations. You will also complete field training that will cover firearms proficiency, self defense, agility and strength training, and more.

Similar to basic training for a military recruit, this all-encompassing education requires physical and mental endurance. Youll be up early for exercise, attend strict classroom settings, drill in firearms, learn how to use non-lethal measures, and likely spend hours in the hot sun running, jumping, wrestling, and becoming a more physically-fit police recruit. Its not easy, but at the end you will be prepared to face the physical, mental, and emotional rigors of police work.

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What Do Police Look For In A Background Check

The background exam is a very thorough investigation of the applicants past. It is common for the hiring parties to speak to colleagues, family members, neighbours, landlords, as well as present and past employers. This helps to determine whether you have a track record of high ethical standards in all areas of your life. You will be required to provide your criminal record, driving record, credit history, and history of alcohol and drug use. Additionally, you will need to pass a polygraph exam that shows whether you have been dishonest or deceitful in answering any of the questions throughout the application process.

When applying to police agencies, you will be disqualified if*:

  • You have matters pending at a criminal court
  • You participated in any indictable offenses. These offenses are the mostserious of criminal activities, which include murder, sexual assault, and terrorist activities.
  • You have a criminal conviction that has not been pardone.
  • You participated in less serious criminal behaviour or activity within one year of applying. These activities are referred to as summary conviction offenses under the Criminal Code. They include illicit drug use, theft, and impaired driving.
  • You have been dishonourably discharged or dismissed from any other law enforcement organization
  • You have a pending or current personal bankruptcy

Police Officer Job Training

Law enforcement careers usually require some on-the-job training. After graduating from the training academy, police officers usually undergo a probationary period under the supervision of a superior officer. During this probationary period, inexperienced police officers learn how to apply techniques in the real world.

After probation, officers qualify for promotion. To become a corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or captain, applicants must pass a written exam in addition to on-the-job training. In large departments, candidates may qualify for detective positions or specific criminal fields, such as homicide or juvenile crime.

Students can also acquire on-the-job training while pursuing a criminal justice degree. Many colleges and universities offer internships for law enforcement students. Learners can also apply for internships at local police departments, giving students the chance to network with veteran police officers and gain first-hand experience in protecting local communities.

Paid internships also exist with the CIA, the FBI, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Treasury Department also provides internships for students interested in learning about financial crimes. These internships can also help degree candidates gain necessary skills and stand out among job candidates when entering the workforce.

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Can You Join The Police With Tattoos

And it turns out, you can actually be too old! The upper age limit is typically 57 years old, allowing for completion of the probationary period before the compulsory retirement age of 60. You cant apply for the Met if you have tattoos on the sides and front of your neck above the collar line, or your face.

Can Police Read Your Texts Without You Knowing


In most of the United States, police can get many kinds of cellphone data without obtaining a warrant. Law-enforcement records show, police can use initial data from a tower dump to ask for another court order for more information, including addresses, billing records and logs of calls, texts and locations.

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Network In The Community

To land a job in law enforcement without a degree, you will want strong letters of recommendations from upstanding citizens like your pastor or former high school principal. Be visible by attending art fairs, athletic events and charity fundraisers. Consider volunteering to be on a board of directors of a youth organization to show community spirit and meet people. Talk about your interest in becoming a police officer with the professional contacts you make through public service. You never know who might put in a good word for you with the police chief on the golf course.


How To Become A Police Officer Without A Degree


The lack of a college degree will not be an insurmountable road block for someone interested in becoming a police officer. Many law enforcement agencies hire applicants with a high school diploma or its equivalent, provided he meets other minimal qualifications set by the state and local police department. When applying for job as a police officer, selectively highlight your unique set of skills, experiences and personal attributes, which demonstrate that you are a highly desirable candidate, even without a degree. Prior experience in the military or a protective service job is also important to describe.

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What Will I Learn With A Masters Degree In Criminal Justice

As you work toward your masters in Criminal Justice, youll learn in depth the way our police, court system, and correctional system work. Youll also develop proficiency in research methods and crime reduction strategies and a large part of that is learning about the root causes of crime itself.

In addition to a core curriculum, youll have the opportunity to focus on one of four concentrations: Human Services, Urban Crime Policy, Homeland Security, or a General track. As you choose your area of interest, youll learn about:

  • Criminological Theory
  • The Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency
  • The Psychology of Criminal Behavior
  • Crisis Management and Disaster Preparedness
  • Community Violence: Causes, Effects, and Solutions
  • Child Development, Trauma and the Criminal Justice System
  • Urban Poverty and the Family
  • Cybercrime, Intelligence Systems and National Security
  • Race, Class and Crime in America
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Organized and Transnational Crime

The field of criminal justice covers many complex concepts. But by the time you finish your degree, you wont just understand them: youll have mastered them.

Is Becoming A Police Officer In Your Future

Why Become a Police Officer? 5 Reasons You Can

While the steps to becoming a police officer may seem lengthy, completing them is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve the fulfilling career youve set your sights on. And a good law enforcement program will help you navigate the process.

Now that youre familiar with the process of how to become a police officer, you may be curious if you have what it takes to excel on the job. Learn more in our article, Often Overlooked Qualities of a Great Police Officer.

If youre already set on becoming a police officer, visit our Law Enforcement degree page to learn how we can help you take the next step toward becoming a police officer in Minnesota.

The Law Enforcement programs at Rasmussen University are not aligned to the standards of any professional licensing body other than the MN POST and are not intended to satisfy professional licensure requirements of any professional licensing agency in any other state.Editors note: This article was originally published in June 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020. Insight from Shetler and Plantinga remain from the original.

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Can You Be A Police Officer Without A College Degree

Can you be a police officer without a college degree? Getting a high school diploma or GED is the minimum formal education requirement for most police officers. Many law enforcement organizations may require or prefer applicants with a bachelors degree, associates degree or a certain number of postsecondary education credits.

How does a degree help you in life? 1. Increased Access to Job Opportunities. Having a bachelors degree opens up rewarding opportunities that might have otherwise been inaccessible. College graduates see 57 percent more job opportunities than non-graduates, and it is estimated that, by 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education.

How can a college degree benefit you? You can expect your life to change in the best ways when you get a degreeyoull likely see more job opportunities, be a better job candidate, have higher earning potential, and enjoy greater economic and job stability if you are college-educated.

Does a college degree make you happier? Research suggests that the more education you have, the happier you tend to be. Having a college degree is correlated with other sources of happiness: People who go to college also tend to have better health outcomes, more stable marriages, and longer lives than those who didnt graduate from high school.

Get The Right Police Education & Training

There was a time when becoming a police officer was as simple as graduating high school or earning your GED, then attending a short training academy before diving into on-the-job training. And though those opportunities do still exist, especially in smaller departments, most departments have raised their standards of education to at least two years of post-secondary work. This means pursing an associate degree in law enforcement or a related field, such as criminal justice, criminology, or police science should be the first option to consider. The associate degree can then serve as a stepping stone to the bachelors degree, which then leads to graduate degree options.

However, other routes to the profession do exist. In addition to the on-the-job training after completing academy training, there is also the military option. Those who work as military police or in a similar capacity while serving their country can be perfectly suited to move into a police force after their military time is up. Lets take a look at the options.

Associate Degree in Law Enforcement

Bestfor? Those who want to stand outagainst the competition, or need a basic college degree to apply fora particular job opening.

Bachelors Degree in Law Enforcement

Best for? Those who have the time and financial resources to earn a four-year degree, want to work in federal law enforcement, or anticipate future professional advancement.

Masters Degree in Law Enforcement

Military experience in lieu of a degree

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What Qualifications Do U Need To Become A Police Officer

How to Become a Police Officer

  • Take a college course or get an apprenticeship. According to the National Careers Service, you can take a level 2 or level 3 diploma in public service before applying to the police force.
  • Apply to a police force.
  • Take an assessment.

How Long Is Police Academy

Want to Be a Cop? | A Cop’s Tips on the Hiring Process

One of the most important steps, as well as possibly the most challenging, in your path to becoming a police officer is training at a police academy. Each state will have different requirements for the specifics of a police academy, but recruits will typically spend about 800 hours in training before graduation. In general, the academy will take about six months to complete.

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Do You Need A Degree To Be A Cop

To be completely clear, formal education, such as an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree is not actually a strict requirement for becoming a police officer. However, many departments across the country are requiring at least a two-year degree, while others are placing a strong emphasis on hiring 4-year college graduates.

Even when not an official requirement for a job opening, having your college degree will be immensely helpful in the hiring process. Despite the fact that these are extremely challenging jobs, there can be lots of competition for positions, so having a formal degree, in addition to the required police training, will make you a more attractive job candidate.

Not only will a degree enhance your chances of being hired, it will also increase your chances of being promoted. At some point in your career, you may want to move into leadership roles, such as a captain or sergeant having a bachelors degree in an appropriate area will make you more likely to find promotion.

Corrections Or Detention Officer

Corrections officers work within the punishment phase of the criminal justice system and serve to execute court-ordered sentences of convicted criminals. In most states, a high school diploma is the only education you need to get your foot in the door.

Corrections officers work odd hours and shift work. They spend most of their time inside and behind locked doors, in highly secured areas. Corrections officers often earn at the lower end of the pay scale, usually between $20,000 and $35,000 to start. Working as a corrections officer can make for a career in its own right, or provide a suitable stepping stone toward a higher paying job in the criminal justice arena.

POST or Criminal Justice Standards certification and extensive academy training are typically required to work in the jail or prison system.

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From Law Enforcement Education To Patrol

Get info on how earning a degree before entering the police academy can benefit you.

Every police officer you see on the job has completed a rigorous police academy program in their city or state.

While this is a requirement across the board, further education can be beneficial in some instances to advance your career or work in a specialized area of crime and law enforcement.

Knowing what your career goals are can help you decide which way to go first: Straight to the academy or off to college.

Uniformed Secret Service Officer

Can I Be A Police Officer Without A Degree ...

Secret service special agents get all the glory, but the uniformed officers of the secret service work just as hard to protect the president, vice president, and foreign dignitaries.

Uniformed secret service officers maintain security at the White House, the vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the United States Treasury Building.

Officers perform shift work and are stationed primarily in and around Washington, D.C., though they may be called upon to travel with the presidential security detail and to provide a uniformed presence on other secret service operations, such as warrant service. Uniformed secret service agents earn approximately $60,000 per year.

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