Earn An Associates Degree
The requirements for becoming a police officer can vary from state to state and even department to department.
Some employers require that Police Officers obtain an Associates degree in order to gain employment.
An Associates degree can take around two years to complete, and there are classes available online and on campus.
With an Associates in Criminal Justice, you can likely gain employment as:
- Correctional Officer
Others may even require a Bachelorss degree in Criminal Justice or another similar field.
The courses for a Criminal Justice Bachelors degree may include:
- Critical Thinking in Criminal Justice
- Intro to Corrections
- Intro to Police Theory and Practices
- Criminal Justice
- Juvenile Justice Systems
In order to know whats the best route for you, check with your state or local police office to see what they require.
The possibilities for employment open up with a Bachelors degree, and its likely that you could get a job as a:
- Probation Officer
- Private Detective
- Fish and Game Warden
Police Officers that would like to move up in the ranks may also get a Masters degree in Criminal Justice, however, this is completely optional.
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.
How To Become A Police Officer
Police officers enforce the laws of their community by responding to and investigating reports of crime. Police officers patrol their communities on foot or in vehicles like cars, motorcycles, and bicycles, and may stop and question people who are committing crimes or behaving suspiciously.
Law enforcement can be a dangerous career, especially in areas with high levels of violent crime, as police officers are called on to stop crimes as they are occurring and to confront and take into custody people who may be armed with weapons. Police officers may work for towns and villages, colleges and universities, cities, counties, states, or for the federal government.
What kind of training is required to become a police officer?
New recruits receive paid training after they are hired by a police department. They attend a full time police academy for about six months before they begin working. Recruits undergo training in several areas during this time:
- Physical training
- Computer training
- Laws and regulations
If a recruit successfully completes police academy by passing written exams and meeting physical standards, he or she then may move on to a field training program, where new officers work with experienced officers to apply the skills theyve learned in police academy.
Are there any certification or licensure requirements?
- Age: Officers may be required to be at least 18, 19, or 21 years old.
How long does it take to become a police officer?
What does a police officer earn?
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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.
Become A Police Officer
Known for its parks, paths, and picturesque Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina is a small city with a vibrant atmosphere. At the Greenville Police Department, we pride ourselves on our relationships with residents and visitors that highlight our vision of becoming the most effective community-focused police agency in America. Come join a department with a family atmosphere and that Southern hospitality youve been searching for.
To be considered for employment, all applicants must, at a minimum:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a United States citizen
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have or be able to obtain a valid South Carolina driver’s license
- Have not had a driver’s license suspension during the last 5 years for DUI leaving the scene of an accident reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter
- Have never been convicted of a felony or domestic violence
- Have never been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or a misdemeanor carrying a possible sentence of more than 1 year
- Have not defaulted on a government or student loan
Steps in the hiring process include:
- All applicants must submit an application through the City of Greenville’s jobs portal online. Due to the large number of applications we receive, the application for Police Officer is typically only open for 3-4 weeks at a time, and is posted quarterly.
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Florida Police Jobs Outlook
The future for law enforcement careers in Florida looks quite promising. Through 2026, police and sheriffs patrol officer positions in Florida are expected to increase by 12.9%.9 There will be an estimated 3,270 average annual openings for law enforcement in Florida, including replacements.9 Many new officers will be needed to replace the high number of retiring baby boomer police officers in the coming years. Of course, local budgets also play a hand in the recruitment cycle of each police department.
For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.
Bachelor Of Science Or Bachelor Of Arts
Another option for police officer education is the bachelors degree. Similar to an associate degree, a bachelors degree can be in the form of a Bachelor of Science , a Bachelor of Applied Science , or a Bachelor of Arts . Bachelors degrees usually take four years of full-time study to complete, and prospective or current cops may choose to pursue a bachelors in any subject in order to fulfill most departmentseducational requirements. For students considering a career in federal law enforcement, jobs like CIA officer or US Marshal may require a bachelors degree in a criminal justice-related subject, such as homeland security, criminology, or law enforcement. To be the most competitive candidate for these federal positions, many students pursue graduate degrees after obtaining their bachelors. Most bachelors degrees require around 120 credit hours to graduate, including foundational and specialized coursework. Law enforcement bachelors degrees may include courses such as Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminal Law, Ethics in Criminal Justice, Community Policing, Crime Analysis and Investigation, and others.
Police Officer Education Matters-Rydberg and Terrill, The Effect of Higher Education on Police Behavior, Police Quarterly
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Police Officer Salaries Across The Us
Salaries of police officers are based on many factors, including experience, skills and training. However, one of the most important factors is based on geography. Certain areas of the country pay more, but are often in areas that have higher costs of living. For more information about what police officers can make and where they can make it, check out the map below.
Becoming A Police Officer
Police officers are society’s shield from lawlessness and violence. Their duties include: protecting members of the public , keeping neighborhoods free of crime, enforcing society’s laws, and apprehending the perpetrators of crime. They are the most recognizable members of the law enforcement community, and are often considered the face of the U.S. Criminal Justice System.
In the United States, police officers are employed at the federal, state, and local levels, although federal police officers are more commonly referred to as law enforcement agents. Despite statistics that show a decrease in overall crime in many areas of the country, the recruitment and training of new police officers remains high due to society’s demands for sophisticated officers, and because of increased fear about crime and terrorism. Over the ten year period from 2018 to 2028, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% increase in demand for this Protective Services job that falls under occupational classification 33-3051.
Below is a five-step guide on how to become a police officer:
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Associate Degree In Law Enforcement
An associate degree in law enforcement prepares graduates for police careers by providing the information necessary to pass police academy entrance exams. The associate degree usually takes two years to complete, is a well-rounded degree with general education courses mixed in, and serves as a stepping stone to the bachelors degree. Because each associate degree program will be tailored to the requirements of the local and regional law enforcement departments, curriculums will vary. However, some of the classes incoming students can expect include:
What Do Related Occupations Make
If youre interested in how to become a police officer, you might also be interested in related professions. Working as a correctional officer, EMT or paramedic, firefighter, probation officer, security guard, gaming surveillance officer, game warden or firefighter might be on your radar. If thats the case, you can peruse the list of related occupations below, which includes average salaries:
What you earn depends on where you live, including the region, state or city. To help determine what you can expect to make in your particular area, our handy salary comparison tool can help.
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Police Training Program Requirements
After gaining acceptance into the police academy, recruits participate in classroom and practical instruction. They learn state laws, criminal investigations, patrol procedures, firearms training, traffic control, defensive driving, self-defense, first aid and computer skills. Police academy recruits also undertake physical training and fieldwork that demonstrates their comprehension of classroom instruction. Field exercises include investigating mock criminal scenes, directing traffic, operating police vehicles, arrest techniques, using firearms, fingerprinting and interrogation methods. Police academy training usually takes 22-27 weeks to complete.
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.
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S To Become A Police Officer
For the most accurate information, you should research the application process for the specific law enforcement agency you want to join. However, you can expect a process similar to the one below:
Apply To Become A Police Officer
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.
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Police Officer Education Prerequisites
To become a police officer, youll need these education prerequisites:
- Be a U.S. citizen over 20 years old
- Not be a convicted felon
- Have earned a high school diploma or a GED
- Must pass several competitive written and physical examinations
- If youre thinking of working at the state or federal level, youll need a college degree.
Bachelors Degrees In Criminal Justice
A bachelors degree is a four-year program that is around 120-semester credits . Students often enter a bachelors in criminal justice straight out of high school. Others complete an associate program first, meaning they have already completed roughly half of the required credits for a bachelors degree.
Students entering from high school must cover all the same lower-level coursework from an associate program . The final two years cover upper-level courses, which could include the following:
- Criminal law: Officers need to understand the U.S. Constitution so they can properly collect evidence, protect suspects rights, and arrest them.
- Applied research: Youve already learned what statistics mean this class is about using collected statistics to make decisions. For instance, you might be asked to determine how to deploy officers and use department funds to best prevent crime.
- Criminal psychology: This class is about getting into criminals heads to learn why they behave the way they do. Its important for crime prevention as well as rehabilitation efforts.
Weve laid out all the details on bachelors degrees in criminal justice on our site. You may want to take a look if youre interested in careers outside patrol. The FBI, for example, requires special agents to hold a bachelors degree. Fish and game wardens also need a four-year degree.
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Police Service Aide Academy
Aide Academy is a five-and-a-half-week training program and meets Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entry to the academy is available to hired participants. Participants in the Police Service Aide Academy must wear their department-issued uniforms or purchase uniforms. Uniforms are not provided by Broward College/Institute of Public Safety.
Training is conducted in:
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.
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Resources For Police Officers:
- Fraternal Order of Police: With over 2,100 local chapters, the FOP is a voluntary membership organization working to promote officers interests. Its involved in political outreach, community service, and labor representation.
- International Association of Chiefs of Police: The IACP is an advocacy organization looking to improve the quality of policing via policy. Its initiatives include providing officer training on countering human trafficking and conducting a census of law enforcement agencies on tribal lands.
- International Police Association: As a fraternal police organization, the IPAs primary mission is to promote friendship among its members, who are active and retired law enforcement professionals.
- National Association of Police Organizations: NAPO is comprised of various police professional organizations and unions from across the United States. NAPOs overarching goal is to protect and promote the interest of police officers through education and political activity.
- National Black Police Association: The NBPA not only represents current and retired African American police officers, but also is active in improving relationships between police departments and African American communities.