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

POLICE: Education Requirements

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:

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:

  • Find the academy thats best for you, and check program registration deadlines. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center offers an intensive 11-week certification course, and you can also take classes at other regional academies. Locate your nearest academy.
  • Police Officer Career Opportunities

    In a large department, police officers may be promoted to detective or to a specialty area of police work, such as juvenile justice administration.

    Promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain are usually made according to a candidates position on a promotion list, depending on your on-the-job performance and examination scores. Many officers retire with a pension after only 20 or 25 years of service, and pursue a second career while still in their 40s.

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    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.

    Apply To Become A Police Officer

    Police Officer by Isaac Tep

    Working as a police officer is a popular job, so it makes sense that each job opening has more than a few applicants. In fact, in some areas of the country, becoming a police officer can be a highly competitive process, with hundreds of qualified applicants vying for only a handful of positions. Given this, its very important to learn how to stand out from the pack of hopefuls and get the attention of those who call the shots when hiring time rolls around. The following resources can help you with everything from cleaning up your resume to understanding how to interview for the job you really want.

    Step 7

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    Can I Have A Criminal Record

    In addition to the educational requirements, police officers must pass a polygraph exam and a drug test. They must also undergo background checks and an oral interview.

    A criminal background, repeated driving violations, or drug use may disqualify a candidate for the position. It’s best to avoid such situations before applying for the position.

    If you have any relevant work experience, mention it when you apply.

    Potential Disqualifiers For A Policing Career In Canada

    When preparing yourself for a policing career, you need to be aware of what will disqualify you from the police application process. As far as the written, physical, and medical exams, the requirements are fairly consistent across all agencies.

    Language Disqualifier: You need to be fluent in either English or French including being able to speak, read, and understand one of these languages.

    Physical Disqualifier: You cannot be in poor physical condition. Failure to successfully complete the physical examination in the minimum time frame is an automatic disqualification.

    Test particulars can vary from one police agency to the next. However, all tests simulate critical incidents that police officers are exposed to. For example. the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation , used by the RCMP, consists of three sections:

  • Running 6 laps around a 350-meter obstacle course where you are required to climb stairs and jump over hurdles
  • Pushing and pulling a 70lb weight
  • Carrying 80lbs over a 15-meter distance.
  • Psychological Disqualifiers: A candidate can be disqualified if they do not meet the minimum psychological examination requirements.

    Work Environment Disqualifiers: Police departments require you to work shift work which includes nights, evenings, weekends, and holidays as policing takes place 24 hours per day. If you are unwilling to accommodate this type of work schedule, you will be disqualified from the process.

    Read Also: How Long Is The Police Academy In Ca

    Why Going Into Law Enforcement After The Military Is A Good Idea

    Law enforcement is a broad professional field with numerous opportunities at local, state, and federal levels. There are several specialized roles and leadership positions available. To explore your options, you can use an online program that gives you a general overview of law enforcement.

    You can use a tool such as Military Skills Translator to enter the branch of service and rank you are interested in. The best part is that it’s completely free of charge, so you can try it out yourself before enrolling in a program.

    A career as a police officer is an excellent way to further your education or transition from military service. A national average salary for a police officer is $41,369 annually, but the exact salary varies by location and experience.

    Several benefits are available to military police officers, including educational assistance, loan repayment, parental leave, and other benefits. This job is not for everyone, however. In most cases, you can expect to be paid at the GS-5 pay scale, which means you’ll make between $31,000 and $40,000 a year, depending on the position. The federal government also provides health benefits for these police officers.

    Having A High School Diploma And Pursuing Law Enforcement

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

    The high school diploma is the minimum requirement for a police officer, but some agencies do require an associate’s degree, or even a few college credit hours. Many agencies offer additional pay based on the amount of college credit hours you have earned.

    In any case, education beyond high school will only benefit you in your career. A four-year or graduate degree is beneficial for career progression.

    The traditional route is to pursue a degree in criminal justice, but other disciplines like psychology and social work also provide a solid foundation for law enforcement work.

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    Picking The Right Program

    Once you know which program level you want to pursue, its time to figure out which one best suits your needs. When researching the schools that make it onto your all-important shortlist, keep the following questions in mind:

    • Is the school regionally accredited?
    • Can you afford the tuition?
    • Does the timeline fit with your future goals?
    • Does the program have a high success rate?
    • Does the program provide POST exam prep?

    How Do Police Officers Get Promoted

    The promotion methods for police officers vary based on their location, the type of force they serve on and the rules established by their police board. An internal promotion often happens after an officer regularly meets or exceeds their performance goals and conducts protocols and directives. Officers typically also undergo an internal review of some sort before receiving a promotion.

    Related:How To Become an RCMP Officer

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    Training Institutions For Police Officers

    Now that you know what options there are for becoming a police officer, its important to know where they are offered. There are many schools that exist to help you move into the law enforcement career of your choice. Here are the options:

    Vocational/trade schools

    These post-high school institutions focus their programs and curriculums on skill-oriented or hands-on training. This training can come in the form of what effectively amounts to an in-house police academy. Vocational and trade schools can provide the fastest way to obtain the training necessary to become a police officer and allow students to receive police academy training without attending the official police academy. Its also fairly affordable compared to earning a college degree. Keep in mind that graduation doesnt guarantee a job in law enforcement and may not result in an academic credential that provides opportunities for professional advancement.

    Best for? Those confident in obtaining a job offer after graduation and want to serve as a police officer as quickly as possible.

    Community colleges

    Best for? Students who would like to earn a college degree along with their law enforcement training.


    Best for? Those who love serving their country or community will benefit from the rewarding experience that can come from military service.

    Four-year schools

    Best for? Aspiring police officers who want an extra way to stand out from the pack of applicants, as well as those looking for federal work.

    The Rigorous Police Academy Program

    What Do You Need to Be a Police Officer?

    All police officers have completed a rigorous program at the police academy in their cities or states. Scroll down to learn more about police academy programs and requirements.

    If you want to advance your work or career in law enforcement any further in some specialized field, however, further education and training will often be necessary.

    Anyway, you may go to college first, or straight to the Police Academy. Not having a college degree doesnt have to be a serious roadblock if you really want to become a police officer.

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    Required Police Officer Skills And Characteristics

    Much of what you need to know to be a successful police officer is taught during police academy training, but valuable skills can be learned anywhere. For example, having military experience or being bilingual can be an advantage when it comes to hiring. The following skills and tools are essential to help keep police officers and the public as safe as possible.

    Leadership: Leadership qualities are important, not just for leading fellow officers, but for helping the civilian population in times of need. Police officers must be able to assess situations quickly and tell others what to do to keep safe.

    Good judgment: Many problems faced by police officers have no easy solution. The right thing to do may require a complex solution and blur the lines between right and wrong. Good judgment helps police officers make the best decisions possible.

    The ability to read people: Police officers interact with ordinary citizens every day. They must be able to figure out when something isnt right, not because of what is said, but because of what isnt said. There will also be disputes that boil down to one persons word against another. Being able to read peoples motives and tell when someone is being truthful is essential.

    Physical strength and stamina: Law enforcement is demanding work, whether it is working long hours or having impromptu foot chases. Not all work will be dramatic, but physical ability is a much-needed skill for police officers.

    Can You Join The Police With Tattoos

    All tattoos are assessed individually. Any tattoos which appear to be discriminatory, offensive or provocative will not be accepted. Facial piercings are not permitted because they are considered to undermine the dignity and authority of a police officer. There are also implications for an officers safety.

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    Enroll In Police Academy

    You need to go through a police academy to join the police force. Every state has its own requirements, meaning those who are trained in other states must take additional courses to meet specific requirements. Before you get an admission to the academy, you will be required to pass an entrance exam. You will sit for tests such as Compass, Asset and Law Enforcement Examination . Police academies last for six months and cover topics such as traffic laws, criminal statutes, search and seizure, driver training and firearms training.

    Why Is A High School Diploma Required

    How to Become a Police Officer

    As a police officer, you’ll be responsible for protecting the community, and your training will be rigorous. Some police departments require a college degree to hire new recruits, but most prefer to hire people with at least two years of college courses. The next step to becoming a police officer is taking the police licensing board exam, or POST, exam.

    The exam varies by state, but typically covers law enforcement practices, community policing, and management and communication.

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    Meet Other Minimum Requirements

    These requirements include:

    • Age: Depending on the department, officers need to be at least 18 or 21 years old.

    • Driver’s license: Police officers must have a valid driver’s license and a generally clean driving record. This requirement is due to many officers using a patrol car on the job.

    • Background check: Aspiring police officers must pass a criminal background check to ensure they have not committed any major crimes or offenses.

    • Physical examination: All applicants must also be physically fit and able to pass a physical and medical exam.

    • Psychological evaluation: Police officers are required to make challenging decisions in high-pressure situations, which requires sound mental health. This evaluation may be in the form of an interview or questionnaire that assesses your personality, temperament, attitudes and core beliefs.

    How Educated Should Police Officers Be

    Citizens of California are calling for greater education standards for their officers. A recent statewide survey conducted by CALSPEAKS found that eight out of ten Californians believe that law enforcement have a superior understanding of communication, 42% support a two-year program, and 35% support four-years program.

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    Are There Voluntary Certifications Available For Police Officers

    There are a variety of voluntary certifications you can pursue as a police officer, including:

    First Aid and CPR Certification

    Police officers are often required to help in emergency situations, which may require them to perform life-saving first aid procedures. With this kind of certification, a police officer will know how to address minor injuries and administer CPR. This certification can be earned before, during or after the police academy.

    K-9 Unit Certification

    This certification is necessary for officers who work with police dogs on patrol and special cases. They complete specialized training that involves bonding, learning commands and running drills with a police dog.

    Specialization certifications

    If there is a certain field of law enforcement you’d like to work in, such as narcotics or arson, you could complete the necessary education, training and examinations to earn a certification.

    What Do Police Look For In A Background Check

    Can You Become A Police Officer Without College

    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

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    Requirements Of The Application Process

    The application process is rigorous and is intended to weed out those who cannot deal with the pressures and demands of the job. It consists of the following elements:

    • Physical Exam your fitness levels are tested to determine whether you are in shape or not. Depending on your age and gender, you will be required to perform up to a particular standard in order to qualify for further consideration.
    • Drug Test blood and urine tests are taken to ensure you are clear of any traces of illegal drugs or that you dont have any drug dependencies.
    • Psychological Evaluation Candidates physiological states are very important due to the fact that police work is highly stressful. This test is carried out to determine whether or not you can deal with stresses and pressures.
    • Health AssessmentYou must have a clean bill of health. A health care practitioner will assess your vital organs, your eyesight, and your hearing to ensure that all is in order.
    • Background Check to ensure you are of sound moral character, the police department will carry out an extensive background check to make sure that all the information you have provided is accurate and checks out.
    • Interview an interview is conducted with the board and other members of the police force. At the interview, the department will attempt to determine whether youre a good fit for the team.

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