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What Degree To Become A Police Officer

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

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:

  • 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

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Cop

If youve come to the decision that college is probably a wise decision for realizing your law enforcement career ambitions, the next question to ask is what degree you need. Most police officer job listings dont specify a college major or subject of study, but they may specify a level of education required for candidates to be considered.

Ensure A Career As A Police Officer Is Right For You

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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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.

Earn Several Years Of Full

Police Officer Career Information and Job Descriptions

Establish Yourself as an Exceptional Officer

Detective positions are highly coveted and extremely competitive. The best way to stand out from other applicants is to focus on being an excellent officer. The law enforcement community is small. Even in a large police department, word travels quickly about thorough, successful officers. Strive to be the best officer you can be, follow up on leads promptly, handle your cases responsibly, and ensure your paperwork is meticulously prepared. Avoid misconduct and other behavior that may lead to disciplinary action. Use all available resources to solve problems as they arise, and seek feedback from veteran officers on areas for improvement.

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Is Criminology And Law Enforcement The Same

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There is a distinction to be made between the disciplines of criminology and criminal justice. Students should study criminology if they want to pursue research or a career in public policy. If students want to work in the legal system or law enforcement, they should take a criminal justice course.

Those interested in becoming professionals in criminal justice frequently refer to it as paradigmology versus criminal justice. Both terms have many different meanings and frequently serve the same purpose. The psychology and sociology of crime are studied in criminology, whereas criminal justice studies the legal and other legal frameworks. Crime researchers seek to understand why some people commit crimes while others are not. Candidates for a position as a criminologist must have a bachelors degree in a related field, such as criminology. Crime is investigated, suspects are apprehended, criminals are prosecuted in court, and offenders are sentenced as part of the criminal justice system. The study of crime, its causes, and effects on society is known as criminology.

How To Prepare To Become A Uk Police Officer

You should verify that you have not committed any offences in the past which could otherwise disqualify you. This includes criminal activity and minor offences such as driving issues and failure to pay fines.

You can improve your chances of passing the police officer’s assessment by going for physical conditioning. This includes weight training and endurance running that could give you an edge at the police academy if you are fit.

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Associate Degrees In Criminal Justice

An associate degree is a two-year program that requires at least 60 semester credits . Most criminal justice programs are actually in the 64- to 66-credit range. Of those credits, around 40% are general education requirements such as English, math, science, humanities, and other topics. Another 20% of credits are elective courses. The actual major is around 40%, or eight classes.

Because most associate degrees are meant to build into bachelors programs, the classes are, by definition, lower-level. They cover introductory material meant to be explored more in-depth in the final two years of undergraduate study.

Those classes might include the following:

  • Introduction to criminal justice: You will learn who the different actors are from police officers to lawyers to judges and legislators and how they work together to form the criminal justice system.
  • Communication: Learn the building blocks for writing a police report, interviewing suspects and witnesses, and deescalating tense situations.
  • Judicial system: Explore the layers of the federal, state, and/or local court systems and which cases go where.
  • Corrections: Examine how jails and prisons function and explore concepts such as rehabilitation and punishment.
  • Research: Learn to analyze data to understand what different criminal statistics actually mean.

Police Officer Titles And Career Concentrations

PC Recruitment: The realities of becoming a police officer

Police officers go by many names and titles, including law enforcement officer, patrol officer, peace officer, public safety officer, state trooper, and uniform patrol police officer.

These are generic names for the same occupation. You can get more specific by incorporating rank. Officers, troopers, deputies, and corporals are all names for lower-ranking officers in different types of agencies. Sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and so on up to chief, commissioner, or sheriff are titles for higher-ranking officers in different jurisdictions.

These ranks are separate from police officer concentrations, which are numerous. Here are 11:

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Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Police Officer

This isnt an 8 to 5 office job. Its an on-your-feet, always-alert, out-and-about career. And while thats a good thing, it also comes with a few downsides. Heres the straight story on what to expect in a career as a police officer:


  • Job stability: Police officers work for the local, state, or federal government, which dont generally go bust or downsize like companies.
  • Benefits: Many government agencies, unlike most private companies, still provide pension plans so people can comfortably retire not to mention life insurance policies and more time off.
  • Advancement opportunities: The combination of job stability and retirement benefits leads to a fairly consistent hierarchy in constant need of new people moving up the ranks.
  • Training: Police officers receive excellent training that can be used beyond their careers in police work, should they want to go into private security, firearms training, or similar work.
  • Sense of pride: In a 2016 study of law enforcement officers, 58% reported feeling proud of their work nearly always or often.
  • Collegiality: Like other coworkers, police officers bond over shared duties. But those bonds are reinforced with constant teamwork in the face of danger.


Career Path And Progression

After joining a police force in the UK, you will spend two years as a student officer, after which you become a constable. Thereafter, you can opt to join any of the following special branches of the police:

  • The criminal investigations department , road traffic or anti-fraud

  • Air support or underwater search

  • Firearms or drugs

  • Mounted policing or dog-handling

With sufficient experience, you can be promoted to become a sergeant, inspector or chief inspector. When you join the CID, you will instantly become a detective and the title will follow even after your promotions and you can be identified as a detective sergeant, detective inspector or detective chief inspector.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidateâs experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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Masters Degrees In Criminal Justice

A masters degree in criminal justice is typically a two-year degree. Its best for those seeking work with federal agencies or promotions into leadership positions. That may be because the types of courses youll take would help you reform a department or adopt new policies.

Students can get into a masters program with a bachelors in criminal justice or a similar degree. They could also leverage criminal justice work experience and a bachelors in another discipline.

Those with limited exposure to criminal justice coursework will likely need to take prerequisites at the undergraduate level . The graduate coursework itself may include the following:

  • Constitutional law: Moving beyond procedures, this class takes a deep dive into the philosophy of the Constitution and asks you to balance that with concerns related to public welfare, privacy, and crime prevention.
  • Quantitative methods: Now that you have experience looking at other peoples data, its time to make your own. Youll learn how to design research and parse the data you collect.
  • Public policy: This class examines how criminal justice policies are created and adapted to the needs of local agencies.

In addition, most masters degrees require you to complete a thesis, a research paper that allows you to show off what youve learned in the discipline and apply research to a problem you find interesting. Alternatively, other programs require a capstone project or an internship.

What Are Some Benefits Of Becoming A Police Officer

How To Become A Police Officer

Police Officers Relationships Are Among the Strongest Known

When you become a police officer, you are joining a fraternal family of 800,000 in the United States and millions more worldwide. Your fellow officers will be there for you if you are called into action while serving, or if you are dealing with a personal crisis of some kind. Its reassuring to know that if the worst-case scenario occurs, there will be shoulders to lean on to help you get through it.

Police Officers Have the Ability to Shape their Communities

There will always be a few bad apples among the police force, which some members of the changes will complain about. Look for the helpers from a law enforcement standpoint. Find people who enjoy their jobs and are willing to put in the extra hours to prove it. Whether they are on duty or not, most police officers go above and beyond for the people they serve. They volunteer to make a difference, speak to scouting groups, give school presentations, and build a community that everyone can be proud of every day.

Police Officers Have a High Level of Job Satisfaction

You, Will, Be Working in a Highly Competitive Environment

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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

How Important Is Accreditation

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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Impress At Your Police Officer Interview

Many hopeful applicants will be offered an interview during the hiring process. This is an opportunity to get to know you on a personal level, and sometimes that can be enough to land you that coveted job. Here are some questions you might encounter during that interview:

  • What would you do if you witnessed another officer commit a crime?
  • If a superior officer told you to do something you knew was against regulations, what would you do?
  • What de-escalation techniques would you use to prevent a physical altercation?
  • Would you be able to arrest a family member if you had to?
  • Describe a time your ethics were tested. How did you handle the situation?
  • This job can be emotionally challenging. How would you reach out for help if needed?
  • Give an example of a time when the right thing contradicted the rules of a certain situation. How did you handle that?
  • What do you consider your greatest strengths in communication? How about your greatest weakness?
  • Lets keep in touch

    Stay up-to-date with the latest education, training, and career trends.

    How Does Police Academy Training Work

    Proposed Law Would Add College Education Requirement For California Police

    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

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    Bachelor’s Degree In Law Enforcement

    A law enforcement degree at the bachelor’s level typically takes four years to complete and can include many different topics or subjects. There are prototypical degrees such as criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement studies. But there are other majors that can hold police officers in good stead. For example, graduates with a degree in accounting are excellent candidates for a career in white collar crime investigations, while computer science majors can have an advantage if they’re interested in pursuing a career in computer forensics or cyber crimes.

    Those in a bachelor’s degree program in a law-related field can expect to find courses like these:

    Police Ethics

    Comply With All Other Minimum Requirements

    These requirements are as follows:

    Age: Officers must be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the department.

    Drivers License: Police officers must have a valid drivers license and a generally clean driving record. This requirement is due to the fact that many officers use a patrol car on the job.

    Background Check: Prospective police officers must pass a criminal background check to ensure they have not been convicted of any major crimes or offenses.

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

    Psychological Evaluation: Police officers are required to make difficult decisions under pressure, which necessitates good mental health. This assessment may take the form of an interview or a questionnaire, and it will assess your personality, temperament, attitudes, and core beliefs.

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