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What Degree To Be A Police Officer

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  • Being a police officer requires extensive training, a good education and a willingness to enforce the law. For many high school students who eventually want to become police officers, the path forward to get into this career is a bit mysterious. Should aspiring police officers go to college? If so, what level of degree will they need to be a cop, and what major should they study in preparation for this career?

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    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:

    Classroom education

    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.

    Field training

    In-service training

    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.

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    What Makes Lauriers Police Studies Degree Different

    Laurier is recognized by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development as one of the strongest schools for crime, justice and police degrees in Canada.

    Unlike most police degrees, Lauriers program is for working officers with at least one year of on-the-job experience. We believe that the learning environment is strengthened when all students have actually dealt first-hand with the subjects discussed in class.

    Youll learn alongside other experienced professionals from our expert instructors advised by a volunteer board of top police officers, lawyers, and academics.

    Of course, few officers can afford to take three to four years off of work to earn a bachelors degree in policing, no matter how much it might benefit their career. Thats why we allow students to complete their police courses online.

    Why Snhu For Your Law Enforcement Degree

    Learn About Becoming a Police Officer


    With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.


    Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits for a bachelor’s degree from your previous institution.


    Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education , which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.

    Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:

    • Most Innovative regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
    • A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
    • Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium


    At Southern New Hampshire University, you’ll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you’ll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.

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    Which Degree Is Best For A Police Officer To Take

    Once upon a time it was simple to become a police officer. All you had to do was show up at the local station when they had an opening available and apply. Your police studies training was an informal education, earned through basic training, working your territory and learning from the veterans. After enough time, if you showed an aptitude for the work, you would expect to move up in rank.

    That is no longer the case.

    Becoming a police officer is one thing, but what about moving up the ranks?

    You might be asking yourself the question, How do I get to the sergeant or detective level?

    The new road to rising above a patrolling officers wage is a bachelors degree in law enforcement. To accommodate your ambition, Wilfrid Laurier Universitys online Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing is uniquely suited to giving busy officers, like you, the opportunity to earn a police degree without missing time at work.

    What Skills Does A Police Officer Need

    Learning how to become a police officer requires the development of specific skills. According to the BLS, these include the following:

    Communication. Officers should be able to speak with and record data from colleagues and community members, as well as express information effectively both verbally and in writing. Empathy. Officers should understand the diverse perspectives and needs of the communities in their jurisdictions while enforcing the law and assisting the public. Judgment. Officers should use common sense and relevant knowledge to address problems and resolve issues appropriately. Leadership. Officers should be comfortable with guiding, correcting, and directing community members as needed. Fitness. Officers should have enough strength and stamina to perform the challenging physical aspects of their responsibilities.

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    Beyond Law Enforcement Careers

    No matter how much pride you get from patrolling streets, responding to emergencies, and being a first-contact between the police department and the community, you may eventually want to leave your position and go beyond a police officer career.

    So what are your options? When it comes to advancement, police officers should consider positions both vertically and horizontally.

    If you are most interested in vertical promotions should first focus on being the best police officer possible. Like any career, attitude makes a difference. While you can train for hundreds of hours a year and have decades of experience on your resume, an attitude focused on the positives of policing will be crucial for your success. Good captains, chiefs, and commissioners need a strong attitude that will rub off on the minds of other officers.

    Education still matters. While many ground-level police officers are hired without a college degree, higher-ranking police officers are all but required to have a post-secondary academic education. An associates, or better yet a bachelors degree, is a wise choice for anyone who aspires to work in law enforcement leadership.

    There are almost no limits to the potential careers beyond a police officer position. From advancing in your local department to taking your skills to the private sectors, police officers have a variety of skills that can apply almost anywhere!

    List Of Police Services Websites

    How to become a Police Officer – Is a College Degree Required?

    Thank you for your interest in our local police services. Below is a comprehensive list of of the Police Services in Ontario. Once you click the link, you will be directed to the Police website.

    Those interested in federal-wide policing can contact the RCMP for job opportunities. Please note that the RCMP does have a different Constable Selection Process and does not require the OACP Certificate in order to apply.

    Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Section 83 of the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019, stipulates a person appointed as a police officer must:

    is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada

    is at least 18 years of age

    is physically and mentally able to perform the duties of the position, having regard to his or her own safety and the safety of members of the public

    is of good character

    has successfully completed, prescribed training by the Minister

    In addition, you must

    obtained a University Degree or a diploma from a college of applied arts and technology,

    possess a valid driver’s licence with no more than six accumulated demerit-points, permitting you to drive an automobile in Ontario with full driving privileges

    have current certification in Standard First Aid Level C CPR by the time the offer of employment is given

    be able to pass a security clearance as well as background investigation, credit and reference checks.

    This certificate is valid for 2 years. That includes all documents in Part A and the Part B, Part C testing.

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    Police Officer Salaries In Bc

    The annual provincial median salary for police officers in B.C. is $83,200. The provincial hourly rate ranges from $26.45-$54.00/hr with a median hourly wage of $40.00/hr.

    Lets take a look at the salaries in the top three regions with the highest number of expected job openings.

    The starting salary at the Vancouver Police Department is $70,154/year with an incremental increase to $90,198 after 3 years. Paid vacation, medical and dental benefits, and a BC Municipal Pension Plan membership is included in benefits at this police force.

    The starting salary at the Victoria Police Department is $70,158/year. By the third year, the annual salary increases to $80,180. Benefits include subsidies for continuing education, basic and extended health plans, dental and vision care, Group Life Insurance, and maternity and parental leave.

    In Thompson-Okanagan, the starting salary on the federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is $53,144/year. By the third year, you can expect to earn $86,110. Benefits include medical, dental, and family health plans, group life insurance, continuing education subsidies, and maternity and parental allowance.

    Note: The police officer salary at the RCMP is significantly lower than the municipal standard.

    Benefits Of A Law Enforcement Degree

    Aspiring police officers are required to have at least a high school diploma or GED in order to participate in a police academy program. In locations where its not required, a law enforcement degree can sometimes be beneficial to you in getting a leg up on the competition.

    Some of the benefits of earning a degree include:

    • The potential opportunity to move up the ranks faster
    • The ability to explore to a specific career path.
    • The ability to explore other career options if police work isnt available

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    The Chance To Be Active

    While working as a police officer does come with administrative requirements, including the need to fill out paperwork promptly, the job provides many opportunities to be up and about and physically active. Examples include patrolling a neighborhood, pursuing a suspected criminal, or simply making the rounds while offering security at a public event.

    How To Complete Police Courses Online

    How to Become a Police Officer?

    Lauriers online police degrees are administered via the schools online learning portal. Lectures are recorded, and you can access the videos 24/7 through the portal.

    The professors notes and additional instructions are posted each week, and most textbooks are digitally accessible. Courses also include discussion boards so you can talk about lessons with your fellow students. You can also contact instructors through the messaging system, and the library offers extensive online resources.

    To assist you throughout your entire time as a student, you will be assigned a student success advisor to ensure youre able to access all the materials and resources you need.

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    What Is The Job Outlook & Earning Potential For Police Officers

    The job outlook for police officers and detectives is expected to remain stable in the coming years with employment projected to grow five percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . The field is a competitive one to conquer but there are ways to set yourself apart with skills, education and experience.

    The BLS reported the median annual salary for police officers and detectives as $56,980 in 2012. Additionally, many agencies will provide you with an allowance for uniforms as well as above-average benefits and even options to retire after just 20-25 years on the force.

    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.

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    The Level Of Degree Needed To Be A Police Officer

    Of police officer jobs that require more than a high school diploma, the degree level expected usually fits into one of the following categories:

    • An associates degree or the equivalent amount of college credits . An associates degree is an undergraduate course of study typically completed at a community college or junior college. Full-time students can typically complete an associates degree in two years.
    • A bachelors or baccalaureate degree or the equivalent amount of college credits . Bachelors degrees are usually offered by four-year institutions and provide a more comprehensive undergraduate education that includes upper-division coursework.
    • A masters degree or graduate certificate. Graduate-level study is more advanced and, often, more specialized than undergraduate coursework.

    A 2017 report by the National Police Foundation found that an associates degree was the most common level of education for this career field, accounting for the highest level of education of 51.8 percent of sworn police officers in America. Just over 30 percent of cops reported having a bachelors degree, while more than 5 percent of officers had gone to graduate school. If you opt out of going to college entirely, your career prospects in law enforcement will be limited, and you will have to compete for jobs against candidates who are, for the most part, more highly educated than you are.

    Enables Officers To Better Relate To The Community


    Higher education has been shown to enhance the technical training that police get in the academy or on the job.

    For instance, as college students, aspiring or current police officers participate in internships, do community service or study abroad. All of these things have been shown to increase critical thinking, moral reasoning and openness to diversity. College also leads to more intercultural awareness. Taken together, all of these skills are essential for successful policework.

    Research has also shown that police officers themselves recognize the value of a college degree. Among other things, they say a college education improves ethical decision-making skills, knowledge and understanding of the law and the courts, openness to diversity, and communication skills. In one study, officers with criminal justice degrees said their education helped them gain managerial skills.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor’s In Law Enforcement Programs

    A bachelor’s in law enforcement qualifies students for public service and safety careers. Bachelor’s degree-holders can pursue jobs in fields, such as policing and investigation that usually offer salary and pension benefits.

    While the cost of higher education varies, the National Center for Education Statistics calculates the cost of earning a degree at a four-year institution at more than $27,000. Many online programs, however, offer benefits, such as flexible enrollment and set or in-state tuition rates.

    Law enforcement is a common major among candidates for police academy training, which is required by most police agencies for new officers.

    Emergency management directors can earn a median annual wage of more than $76,000. Among law enforcement officers, detectives and criminal investigators earned the highest salary at nearly $87,000, with earnings exceeding $92,000 for federal government workers.

    Corrections is one area of specialization under the broader category of law enforcement. Aspiring correctional, probation, or parole officers may study corrections, while a bachelor’s in law enforcement can lead to careers in policing, investigation, and public safety.

    Police Officer Preparation Beyond The Degree

    Before an officer officially joins the police force and regardless of their college major and level of education they go through intense training at one of the many police academies. Police academy training programs can take anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks, so new officers should plan to spend months training for their role in law enforcement. Training in a police academy typically involves learning about local ordinances, constitutional law and civil rights, as well as the skills to investigate accidents and crimes. Everything aspect of police work, from traffic control to self-defense, is taught in the training academy to make sure that new officers are prepared for work on the job. Being a cop is tough, so for training to be valuable, it must be comprehensive and challenging, too.

    If you have a good education, earn great grades and pass the police academy training program, you will likely find success in getting hired as a police officer, no matter what major you choose. Being familiar with the law and the criminal justice system prior to applying to work as a police officer can certainly hold value, but choosing a specific major isnt a prerequisite to the academy training program where you will learn the fundamentals of police work.

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