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.
Overview Of Police Education Requirements
The most recent data available indicates that over 80% of police departments in the US require at least a high school diploma or GED, while only 1% of police departments require a four-year degree.1 The remaining 19% of departments require varying amounts of college credit, up to an associates degree .1 About half of police agencies that require college credit will accept military experience in place of the usual college requirements.1 In general, larger police departments tend to require a degree more often than smaller departments.1
At the same time, while it is not a strict entry-level requirement in all departments, the number of officers who have a college degree is rising estimates suggest that 30% to 50% of US police have a four-year bachelors degreecompared to 33% of US adults overall.1 This indicates that investing in four years of college to be a police officer is not uncommon. An estimated 66% of police chiefs and sheriffs have at least a bachelors degree, and 33% of these have a masters or law degree.1 Aside from agency hiring requirements, suggested reasons for these statistics include:1
Acquire A Degree Or Academy Training
The requirements for this step will vary substantially depending on the state in which you plan on becoming a police officer. Some states do not require their officers to be college-educated, even if they may prefer it. Other states, like Minnesota, an Associates degree or equivalent training is one of the requirements to become a police officer.
Generally speaking, the training process for aspiring police officers follows two routes:
- Completing training by earning a two- or four-year degree in Criminal Justice or similar field from a Peace Officer Standings and Training -certified college or university, or
- Completing training through a government-approved police academy or training program.
Since police officer requirements differ, youll want to be sure to check with the agency that sets the standards for law enforcement training and licensure in your area. Some also have arrangements for military reciprocity, allowing candidates who served in the military to follow a different process in acknowledgement of the training they already have.
Whichever path you take, your training will include classroom instruction in state and local laws, covering topics like constitutional law, civil rights and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.
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What Does A Police Officer Do
In the simplest sense, police officers enforce laws and protect life and property. But of course, there is much more to it than that. Heres how it breaks down:
Policeofficers are sworn to protect and serve the communities in which they live andwork. They enforce laws, obtain warrants, arrest and interview suspects, securecrime and accident scenes, write detailed reports and testify in court, amongother duties. Officers often respond to emergency calls, working shifts thatoperate around the clock.
The specific duties of a police officer will be numerous and diverse. Based on appointment, length of service and training, they may work with a K-9 unit responding to suspicions of drugs or dangerous weapons in vehicles and other property. Or, they might take a role on the SWAT team where they need to know tactics and procedures for working under dangerous conditions. Much of their daily routine will involve patrolling a certain area, such as a portion of a town or city. As they move up the ranks, they may investigate crimes ranging from petty theft to murder.
Policing Jobs And Salaries
Graduation from a police program prepares you for work in a number of fields, including :
- Private investigation
Note: For each of these positions, further testing will likely be required. Police officer applicants may be required to show proof of completion of the Ontario Chiefs of Police Certificate examination.
Starting salaries in the policing field are in the low $30,000s per year, but tend to rise after your first-year probationary period. From there, your salary will increase with experience.
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.
Continuing Education Is Required
Education and training requirements do not stop for police officers after they join the force. Ongoing classroom, fitness and field training requirements are common among agencies for current officers. The requirements serve to ensure that officers are informed of the latest developments in their field and kept updated with changes ranging from new laws to new technology. Officers are not required to pursue new formal education pursuits as a rule. However, many choose to extend their college education to improve their skills for work and to strengthen their prospects for advancement.
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Police Community Support Officer
Although they do not have the same powers as a police officer, PCSOs play a key role on the frontline of neighbourhood policing. According to the College of Policing, the job involves:
- dealing with minor offences
- guarding crime scenes
- providing crime prevention advice.
Starting salaries are typically between Â£17,500 and Â£20,000, although North Yorkshire Police states that their trainees currently earn Â£21,135, which rises to Â£23,406 with experience.
This is a uniformed role, and youll work shifts including evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
Apply for PCSO positions directly through the police force that you want to join. You do not generally need any formal qualifications, but youll need to meet the basic eligibility requirements set by individual police forces. Check their websites for details.
The application process typically involves an application form, online tests, an interview and assessment centre. Youll also have to demonstrate your fitness and pass a medical test. Successful applicants will then undergo a training programme lasting between three weeks and three months.
You may later decide to apply to become a police officer, or continue as PCSO.
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Successfully Pass A Background Check
You can expect any law enforcement agency youre applying for to conduct a number of checks into your background, including criminal history and even credit history. While this isnt literally the first step to becoming a police officer, it is the first one youll need to consider before you get too invested in the process. If you have concerns about how your background might impact your candidacy, you may want to consult a police academy admissions representative about it.
Your credit history may be analyzed because it gives potential employers an idea of your level of responsibility and potential problems like gambling-related debts. Police departments look into applicants history of criminal activity, employment, residency and academic records as well.
Basically, the police department is going to get deep into your business, says Adam Plantinga, and 17-year veteran sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department. Dont leave anything out on your background packet. If you omit something, even inadvertently, and it comes to light, you will likely be eliminated as a candidate. Departments are looking for responsible people who play by the rules.
Things like felonies and gross misdemeanors could disqualify you from becoming a police officer, but less serious offenses could also be problematicit really depends on the department and its policies.
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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.
Police Officer Degree Levels
There are many degree options for prospective and current police who are interested in furthering their education. As previously mentioned, a successful policing career does not necessarily require a college degree, but pursuing a degree can benefit your career as a police officer not only by helping you get hired but also by putting you in a better position to be promoted and/or move into a supervisory position. Before we look at the degree majors available for those interested in police education, lets look at the police officer education levels available.
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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.
Look At Other Qualifications
In addition to education requirements, candidates for police officer jobs must meet a range of other minimum standards. These differ among agencies, but the prevailing basic standards include that applicants are United States citizens, 21-years-old, own a drivers license, pass a physical and pass a background check. The physical requirements can extend beyond a simple medical exam to meeting basic physical fitness qualifications, such as running a set distance within a set period. Police agencies often require applicants to pass a drug test.
What Classes To Take In College To Become A Police Officer
Becoming a police officer is a noble goal. As a police officer, you help to protect and serve your community and make a difference in the lives of the people around you. It doesnt hurt that you have the potential to earn a good salary, have great retirement benefits and health insurance for yourself and your family either. So, just how do you go about becoming a police officer? Here are some tips for you to get started.
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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Reserve Constables / Community Safety Officers
Some larger urban police forces have an additional class of officers who may be called Reserve Constables, Community Safety Officers, Auxiliary Officers. These officers may have reduced training/education requirements depending on their police force. They usually work as a volunteer, often assisting at community events, crime prevention programs, or traffic safety for their police force. They may be classed as Auxiliary Constables or Special Municipal Constable. For more details on qualifications and requirements, check with individual police forces in your area. For examples, see:
Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.
You can look at the Vancouver Sun& The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.
Online Job Postings
- Municipal Police Forces in BCPositions with municipal police forces in BC, BC Transit police and railway police services are posted by each individual police force. See: B.C. Police Forces
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How To Become A Police Officer Or Detective
The education typically required to enter the occupation ranges from a high school diploma to a college degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agencys training academy before completing on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.
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How To Become A Police Officer In Texas
Becoming a police officer is no easy task. The selection process is long and demanding with a long list of requirements.
Once candidates make it through the hiring process, they go through extensive training to develop the skills essential to upholding societal law and order. For those who make it through this arduous selection process and graduate from police academy, however, working as a police officer can be an extremely rewarding career.
If you live in Texas and have decided that a career in law enforcement is for you, well go through the necessary steps youll need to take in order to be a successful applicant.
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What About Basic Training
Completing a basic police academy prior to your hiring is dependent on the agency you apply to. Some will only hire upon completion of the academy others hire you and then send you through the academy afterward. Check with the agency youre applying to for further information.
If youre from another state, keep in mind that California POST does not have reciprocity with other states. POST does offer a Basic Course Waiver process for out-of-state cops that you can learn more about here.
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Police Officer Jobs & Job Description
Police officers maintain a sworn law enforcement position that involves protecting life and property of community members through enforcement of laws and ordinances. Duties vary slightly from department to department, but police officers core duties to their organization and to the public are as follows:
Senior police officers may pursue more of an administrative track as Sergeant, leading to Captain, or may pursue cases of more complexity and experience is required as a detective or lieutenant. By either career path, senior police officer jobs often require a deeper base of experience, and may require individuals to handle additional confidential information and advanced decision-making and ethical challenges. While jobs do vary, such senior roles have the following tasks:
- Assign police work of varying difficulty
- Use available resources and problem solving techniques
- Deploy staff for community engagement
- Develop resources
- Network with other professionals and stakeholders
- Prioritize cases based on stakeholder need, violence, or scope
- Perform hazardous and strenuous tasks
- Exercise initiative and judgment in various situations
- Oversee departmental matters
Criminal Justice Or Criminology
Another common degree specialty for cops is a degree in criminal justice or criminology. While the two fields are related, criminal justice is defined as the study of the system of US law enforcement, including courts and corrections, while criminology is the broader and more theoretical study of the social phenomenon of crime, including its causes and consequences. That said, an education in criminal justice may be best suited for prospective cops, but criminology can certainly be helpful too. Students in criminal justice and criminology programs will learn about the criminal justice system, criminology, courts, and the US correctional system, and coursework may cover research methods and statistics as well. Coursework may include courses such as Policing, Juvenile Justice, Corrections, Courts and Judicial Process, Research Methods in Criminal Justice, and Prisons: Punishment and Rehabilitation in America. Criminal justice and criminology degrees are available at all degree levels, from certificates to graduate degrees.
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