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Do You Need A Diploma To Become A Police Officer

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Law Enforcement Or Policing

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

One common degree specialty for those interested in a career in policing is law enforcement. Degrees in law enforcement are offered at the certificate, associate, bachelors, and masters levels. Students in law enforcement and policing degree programs learn about the history of law enforcement, focusing on an ethical approach to policing, the application of law, due process, tactical strategies, law enforcement technology, and the proper use of force. Law enforcement and policing degrees may be pursued in a traditional format as well as in a hybrid or online format. Courses common to a degree in law enforcement include Physical Training/ Use of Force, Constitutional Law, Police Report Writing, Firearms, Law Enforcement Leadership, and Traffic Law. Courses taken at the police academy after being hired as an officer are typically similar to those found in law enforcement or policing degree programs.

How Much Do Police Officers Make

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for police officers is $63,150 per year. Transit and railroad police officers get paid more, earning on average $71,820 per year, while detectives and criminal investigators make a median annual salary of $83,170.

Pay can vary by state. Police officers in California rake in an annual mean wage of $105,220 meanwhile, police officers in Texas earn $63,740 a year on average. You can look up the average salary for police officers in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How To Become A Police Officer In Canada & Disqualifiers To Avoid

Choosing a new career , can be an overwhelming process. Opportunities are endless in a country like Canada. Its not easy figuring out which direction to take in the first place.

Canadian Business helps you narrow down your options with a list of The Top 25 Jobs in Canada. And were here to help you break down #14 on that list: police officer.

Being a police officer comes with great responsibility, authority, and trust. Therefore strict standards are upheld in the selection process to ensure only the right candidates are hired. This process typically includes:

  • A written exam
  • Have no criminal convictions and no criminal charges pending

In addition to the above list, each police force adds its own list of requirements.

Those applying for the RCMP need to meet the following additional requirements:

  • Permanent resident applicants need to have resided in Canada for the last 10 years.
  • Be at least 19 years old
  • Possess a valid, unrestricted driver’s licence
  • Be able to spend 26 weeks at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Be willing to relocate anywhere within Canada
  • Not have any tattoos that depict or incite hate, harassment, or discrimination against individuals on the basis of the grounds listed in Canadian Human Rights Act, section 3.
  • Not wear any personal effects on the body that may interfere with the personal protective equipment.

The Vancouver Police Department asks that their applicants meet the following additional requirements:

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Technology And Finance Degree Options For Police Officers

Depending on your area of interest, you may benefit from choosing a major such as computer science or business. Having a background in computer science, information technology or a similar subject may help prepare you for work investigating cybercrime, or crimes committed digitally, via a computer. If youre more interested in insider trading, embezzlement and white-collar crimes, a major in accounting or finance may be exactly the background you need to focus your career on this type of crime.

A background in accounting or finance may also help you investigate crimes like money laundering which often occur in relation to serious crimes like terrorism and drug or weapons trafficking.

Additional Resources

How Important Is Accreditation

Do I Need a Bachelor

Accreditation refers to an outside organization reviewing a particular school or program to ensure it meets certain standards of quality. Accreditation is important for police training programs because it serves as a mark of quality graduates who complete their education and training can be confident that what they have earned will be accepted by future employers and peers. The specific entities that offer accreditation will vary depending on the program. For instance, many associate or bachelors degree programs will not be accredited at the program level, but the school offering the degree will be accredited. This will usually be a regional or national accrediting organization recognized by the US Department of Education.

As for the accreditation of police training academies, the most prominent is the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA.

Step 3

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Complete Coursework & Field Training

The coursework involved in a program that leads to work as a police officer can vary depending upon the institution and the degree level. For instance, those in a training academy will dive right into the nitty-gritty of everyday police work and not touch on general education requirements, such as you would find in an associate degree program. In both the associate and the bachelors program, students will encounter not only general education courses and several possible electives, but they will also focus on the core courses for police officers, such as those in criminal justice, ethics, corrections systems, communication, and more. Heres a good idea of courses you might encounter, either in the core curriculum of the degree program or at the police academy:

  • Patrol Procedures
Step 5

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.

Entrance requirements

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:

Step 4

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Police Officer Jobs By Jurisdiction

Another aspect of law enforcement to take into consideration is the jurisdiction of the agency you want to work for. Across the U.S., there are city, county, and state levels of law enforcement. City police officers stay within city limits and often patrol the streets or work on citywide investigations. Police detectives usually require a bachelors degree as well as experience in street patrol.

County law enforcement typically consists of a sheriff and several deputies who serve warrants, subpoenas, and respond to rural civil disputes. Bailiffs and constables are under the sheriffs department and often serve the courts.

State law enforcement officers patrol highways, interstates, and county roads the jurisdiction of a state patrol officer is designated to a region of the state and includes those jurisdictions covered by city and county officers. Each law enforcement agency, no matter the size, has specialized units such as narcotics and SWAT, and offer specialized training through the academy for each unit.

Federal agents often travel across the nation or are assigned to various states, which can be a bit unstable if you have a family. For example, working as a federal air marshal requires air travel across the nation to secure domestic and international United States flights. The hours and requirements can be physically and emotionally demanding with little recovery time between assignments.

Required: Other Aspects Of Your Application To The Police

What its like to be a new police officer | The Recruits

During your application to a Police Force, you will have to go through extensive background checks. If you have lived outside of the UK for any period of time, these may take longer than usual, but it does not mean that you wont be able to join!

You will also have medical and fitness tests to complete. The fitness test is not intended to scare you off, but is there to make sure that you are physically fit enough to be able to do your job as a Police Officer effectively. If you fail the first time, there is no need to worry, as you will be able to retake it up to 3 times. However, if you dont manage to pass it the 3rd time, you will have to wait 6 months to be able to reapply to any Police Force again.

You will also be required to complete components such as a written assessment, which tests your basic English comprehension and writing, verbal reasoning, and maths skills. This is likely to be accompanied by an interview.

There are courses which are available to help you prepare for these components, and one example can be found here. Make sure that you do your preparation for these tests, so that you feel comfortable during your application process, and are able to put yourself in the best position for success possible.

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Municipal Police Force Salaries & Benefits

In comparison to the federal police force, the municipal police agencies offer slightly higher salaries.

The Calgary Police Service offers a starting salary of approximately $66,000/year.

The Vancouver Police Department offers new hires $70,154/year with an incremental increase to $90,198 after 3 years. Benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental benefits and a BC Municipal Pension Plan membership.

The Toronto Police Service has a starting salary of $63,564.98 for their cadets. After year 3, police officers receive an annual salary of $90,836. Benefits include paid vacation, family medical and dental benefits, life insurance, pension plan, parental/maternity leave and more.

Considering that the median income for individual Canadians was $36,400 in 2018, according to Statistics Canada, the starting salary for a Canadian police officer is an attractive one.

When deciding between the federal or municipal level, keep in mind that while the RCMP might have a lower salary, the role involves police duties at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels with a much wider variety in operational and administrative opportunities.Some specializations that are unique to the RCMP are: Integrated Border Enforcement Team, National Security, Marine Services, International Peace Operations and many, many more.

Police Officer Salaries In Ontario

The provincial hourly rate ranges from $30.05-$57.69/hr with a median hourly wage of $46.15/hr. The salary range for police officers in Ontario is $56k-$117k/year, while the median annual salary is $97,115/year.

The median employment income in 2015 for police officers in Toronto was $107,627. The median employment income in 2015 for police officers in Ottawa was $105,533, and the median employment income in 2015 for police officers in Hamilton was $106,485.

The starting salary at the Toronto Police Service is $70,643.30/year. By the fourth year, expected the annual salary to be $100,923.48/year. Benefits include paid vacation, family medical and dental benefits, life insurance, pension plan, and paternal and maternity leave.

The starting salary at the Ottawa Police Service is $67,615.92/year. By the fourth year, depending on your performance reviews, the annual salary is expected to increase to $99,434.93/year. Benefits include education reimbursement programs, a generous pension plan, medical, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, as well as long-term disability insurance.

Meanwhile, if working for the Ontario Provincial Police , the average salary is roughly $100,500/year.

Here is a list of average salaries for police officers in Ontario, according to Glassdoor:

Department
$98K – $104K

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Pass The Licensing Exam

The next step to becoming a police officer is to earn a passing score on your states police licensing board exam. Your education and training will prepare you to take the Peace Officer Standards and Training exam.

Each state has its own licensing board, so the tests will also vary. But generally speaking, most POST exams cover topics like: practical application and techniques, civil and criminal law, community policing, victims rights and management and communication. By passing this capstone exam, you are licensed to become a police officer and enforce the law in your jurisdiction. You are now free to seek employment with a police department.

What Skills Are Required To Be A Successful Police Officer

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Police Officer?
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Empathy and compassion for others
  • Effective communication
  • 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

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Understand The Desired Traits Of A Police Officer

All police departments want to hire individuals who are honest and will not violate the ethical rules put in place. They also require individuals who are smart enough, hardworking and able to think independently and take charge of volatile situations. Other traits include commitment, agility, impact and patience.

Police Officers And Social Science Degrees

Whether youre trying to figure out the motive for a crime or interrogating a suspect, as a police officer, you will likely spend much of your time asking why people think and behave in certain ways. That question is exactly what the social sciences of psychology and sociology are about: understanding the science behind individuals and groups thought patterns and behaviors.

One possible social science major of particular interest to aspiring police officers is criminology, the study of the causes and effects of crime. Developing a solid understanding of why people commit crimes, the circumstances that contribute to increased crime and the effects high crime rates have on a community can help police officers better address crimes and develop initiatives to help prevent future crimes.

Students of criminology take classes in the sociological patterns and statistics of crime, the sociology of family violence and the relationship between police and society as well as more traditional coursework in criminal justice and corrections.

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Washington State Police Officer Requirements

The requirements in Washington differ greatly! All cities require applicants to have graduated high school, have a clean record, a drivers license and be US citizens. After these requirements it depends heavily on the police department as to what else is needed. In Tacoma, for instance, these are the only requirements. In other cities a person needs to be 21. In Seattle a person needs to be 21 and have a college degree. Inquire with your preferred police department to find out their requirements.

Physical Requirements To Become A Police Officer

You don’t need a degree to be a cop in this city

Beyond the basic bio requirements, you will also need to meet physical requirements, such as:

  • Basic physical criteria
  • Good vision and hearing
  • Mental strength

The physical requirements will vary from state to state and even city to city. For example in LA, male applicants must have a body fat percentage of less than 22%. In Philadelphia, recruits must pass a physical fitness test to be accepted into the training academy.

If you meet these essential requirements, you can move forward with education and training, which may include formal college courses, an important part of how to become a police officer.

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How To Become A Police Officer In Ottawa

If you are considering a career as a police officer in or around Ottawa, your first step is to enroll in an educational curriculum that will properly prepare you for this demanding line of work. The completion of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing program lays the foundation for a rewarding career as a police officer. Part of the beauty of this program is that it is delivered 100% online. It is perfect for those with busy schedules and numerous personal and professional obligations. You can access educational materials online 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

If You Have A Degree: A Graduate Diploma

For those who have a degree which is not related to Policing, there is an option to do a graduate diploma in Professional Policing Practice. This is a 2-year course which is based on on-the-job training, with some additional learning to support your work.

If you want to find out which forces are currently recruiting graduates in your desired location, take a look at this useful website.

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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.

References

Ensure A Career As A Police Officer Is Right For You

Chesbro on Security: Who wants to be a police officer?

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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