Fulltime Police Academy Requirements
An entry-level academy operated or approved by the Municipal Police Training Committee that has the prescribed course of study that a full-time police officer must satisfactorily complete prior to exercising police powers in Massachusetts.
Candidates accepted into a police academy must:
- Be a minimum of 21 years old
- Be employed or sponsored by a municipal, Environmental, or University of Massachusetts police department or, if authorized by the Committee, some other law enforcement department.
- Successfully complete the Massachusetts Human Resource Division’s Physical Ability Test and medical examinations
Sponsored candidates must also sign and comply with the terms of the academy’s waiver and release form.
Law Enforcement Degrees & Training
|The police department I want to work for doesnt require anything more than a high school diploma. However, they prefer recruits to have some legal-related postsecondary college credits before enrolling in the academy.
|Im working full time as a police officer right now. I know I need to get another degree to increase my chances of getting promoted within my department, but my work schedule is so varied that I dont have the ability to take classes on a set schedule.
|I dont know exactly where Id like to end up as a police officer, but I do know I want the potential for advancement, to give myself the best chance of being hired and to be eligible for federal law enforcement positions, such as at the DEA or FBI.
|I hope to someday take a leadership position within law enforcement, even becoming a police captain or police chief.
|I would like to gain additional knowledge about law enforcement. Many departments I intend to apply to require applicants to have several dozen college credits, if not a full degree.
What Are The Police Academy Exams Like
During your weeks of training, youre preparing for a series of exams. In most academies, you take around 14 written exams, plus 4 practicals on firearms, defence tactics, driving, and first aid.
These tests are varied and challenging. If you fail them, you fail out of the academy. However, there are rules and tricks to help you prepare for these exams and successfully complete training.
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Completing The Police Academy
When you have successfully completed the hiring process, you are a few steps closer to becoming a police officer but you still have two more phases to go through. The first one is the Police Academy. There you will undergo a lot of physical and theoretical training and learn how to use guns and apprehend criminals. You will receive knowledge about different laws and law enforcement procedures as well as acquire practical skills in driving, first aid, etc.
Not all candidates who enter the Academy finish their studies. You may be rejected due to bad performance, while some candidates give up themselves as they find it too difficult to complete.
The duration of the training in the Police Academy varies for the different agencies. It usually takes about 13 to 19 weeks on average but can last up to six months.
Note that it is possible to complete the Police Academy prior to applying for a police officer. Getting POST certified is one of the secrets to getting quickly hired as a police officer so, you can investigate this option as well.
Is Becoming A Police Officer In Your Future
While the steps to becoming a police officer may seem lengthy, completing them is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve the fulfilling career youve set your sights on. And a good law enforcement program will help you navigate the process.
Now that youre familiar with the process of how to become a police officer, you may be curious if you have what it takes to excel on the job. Learn more in our article, Often Overlooked Qualities of a Great Police Officer.
If youre already set on becoming a police officer, visit our Law Enforcement degree page to learn how we can help you take the next step toward becoming a police officer in Minnesota.
The Law Enforcement programs at Rasmussen University are not aligned to the standards of any professional licensing body other than the MN POST and are not intended to satisfy professional licensure requirements of any professional licensing agency in any other state.Editors note: This article was originally published in June 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020. Insight from Shetler and Plantinga remain from the original.
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Do You Have To Attend The Academy
Attendance in the police academy is absolutely not mandatory for most criminal justice jobs. Social workers, substance abuse counselors and those who work with the elderly need only a college degree and some additional training, and other fields, including crime scene examination and forensic science, require a graduate or PhD degree. Even city and state law enforcement departments dont require police academy attendance for criminal justice majors. Applicants have the option of skipping the academy in lieu of on the job training. Instead of applying to the academy, you can apply for an open position within the department and go through its own training program.
Certificate In Law Enforcement
A certificate in criminal justice or criminology is an opportunity for individuals to gain specific instruction in an area of law enforcement. Since a certificate consists of a few classes and can be completed in a few months, the certificate can also provide an opportunity to get started on an associate degree without having to commit to the two years just yet. Certificates are also great in that some department require applicants to have some college credits, but do not require a full degree. Some of the courses available in a criminology or criminal justice certificate program are listed below:
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Be Ready For A Fitness Assessment
To help ensure you are physically capable of performing the duties of a law enforcement officer and enduring the rigors of the police academy training, most departments require candidates to participate in some form of physical abilities testing.
Fitness tests may consist of an overall physical assessment including sit-ups, push-ups, sprints, and a 1.5-mile run. In such tests, applicants are expected to perform at a certain level of fitness, which sometimes varies depending on age and gender.
An alternative to the fitness assessment is the obstacle course, or physical abilities test, which requires applicants to perform a series of simulated job tasks within a certain amount of time. Such tests are often easier to pass than the fitness assessment, and the time required to pass is not typically dependent on the age or gender of the applicant.
Get Accepted & Paying Your Way
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.
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:
- An essay
- 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:
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Police Officer Selection Procedures
Aside from passing the physical fitness test standards, you also need to go through the following process. Note that the list only includes the most basic requirements, and in all likelihood the academy may impose additional steps.
- Pass the Civil Service written examination.
- Applicants have to undergo a through physical examination.
- Applicants have to undergo a polygraph screening.
- You will be subjected to a complete psychological assessment.
- If youre applying at the Miami Police Department and other departments in the state, youll need to undergo a background check and provide access to your records.
The toughest part is the physical training, and its here where a lot of the dropout rate surges. During the course of training youll be doing a lot of crawling, running and lifting / pushing heavy objects. The objective of course, is to determine your agility, flexibility and endurance and if you have what it takes to be a cop.
One of the best ways to learn how to prepare for the police academy is to use a guide like . Unlike other tutorials on the subject, this guide provides comprehensive coverage of pre and post academy workouts and explains laws and procedures that aspiring police officers need to know.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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What Do You Do In The Police Academy
When accepted into a police academy, you’ll take part in classes and practical instruction learning state laws, criminal investigations, patrol procedures, firearms training, traffic control and more. The design of the police academy is to be an intensive learning experience, so expect to spend almost every moment of the day either learning, exercising or both.
A typical daily schedule for an academy recruit living on campus in a dormitory comprises:
- Awake at 5 a.m.
- Asleep at 10 p.m.
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:
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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.
Applying To The Academy
The standards to apply for the police academy may vary slightly by state however, certain standards apply to most states. The key standards to apply to the academy include:
- A valid drivers license
- U.S. citizenship
- An appropriate age, which is either 18 or 21 years old
- A high school diploma or higher
- A background check
- Biometric tests, such as your fingerprints
- An academic test, which is called the Law Enforcement Examination
- A drug test
- A psychological evaluation
- An application
After you submit your application for review and pass the appropriate tests to qualify for entrance into the police academy, you will start learning the relevant skills for your career. Keep in mind that your states academy may require you to pass a fitness exam and to provide details about your health as part of the process. Certain mental health or medical conditions may prevent you from being allowed into the academy. You should also keep in mind that a bachelors degree in criminal justice or a related field will improve your chances of being accepted into the police academy.
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Police Officer Job Growth
Police officers are a vital component to maintaining a peaceful society. While still subject to cost cutting like any other private sector industry, the demand for police officers remains relatively steady for the foreseeable future. For more detailed job growth information, please see the below chart.
General Entrance Requirements For The Academy
- United States citizen or permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for U.S. citizenship prior to application for employment.
- Minimum age for Academy acceptance is 21. You must be 21 years of age to purchase a firearm and to be hired by an agency there is no maximum age limit.
- High school diploma or equivalency.
- Valid California Class C driver’s license.
- Lack of a felony record or outstanding warrants.
- Academy Physical Training Preparation
- DOJ Clearance Letter
To be successful as a participant in the San Diego Regional Academy you will be expected to arrive with a base level of fitness. The Academy Physical Training program is 24 weeks long with Physical Training Sessions 23 times per week. Physical training will consist of speed and distance running, weight training and circuit training. You will be required to pass a Work Sample Test Battery consisting of an obstacle course, dummy drag, 6 foot wall climbs and a timed run.
Taking the time to adequately prepare for the Academy will increase your chance of being successful while greatly decreasing the chance of injury while in the Academy.
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Preparing For A Police Officer Career: Find The Right Environment
When an aspiring police officer chooses to go to school to obtain formal education, a world of possibilities opens up. Here are some of the potential places where the certificate or degree can be earned.
Some vocational or trade schools have certificate programs that may count towards college credit, such as for a future associate or bachelors degree. Some might offer associate degrees. Vocational or trade schools can provide a way to save money on college costs while receiving necessary college course instruction.
Military experience is well regarded by law enforcement agencies and police departments. Familiarity with firearms, mental toughness, physical conditioning, discipline and an understanding of command structure and culture are all benefits that come with hiring a recruit with military experience.
Community colleges provide multiple options for students who want to become police officers. Students can complete their associate degree in two years or a certificate in a few months. As an added bonus, many community colleges allow credits earned in a certificate program to go towards an associate degree.
Law Enforcement School
Departments that require a bachelors degree are often found at the federal level. However, even if a four-year degree isnt required, getting a bachelors degree can be a prudent decision: it can increase the chances of getting hired and promoted.
Education Requirements For Police Officers
Aspiring police officers have the possibility to choose whether to start their career right after high school, provided the agency they want to work for allows it, or to proceed with their education and get a degree prior to joining the law enforcement forces. The education requirements for becoming a police officer vary by state and by department generally, agencies require a high school diploma or an equivalent for entry-level positions but as of lately, most departments include in their requirements an associates or bachelors degree. In addition to that, if you have the desire to grow in your career and move to a federal law enforcement agency at some point, it is better to first invest some time in education and then apply for a law enforcement position.
Police officers who want to work in more specialized divisions or are looking forward to advancing in their career, should be able to offer at least a bachelors degree in a law enforcement-related discipline and possibly a masters degree. The level of education also can affect the salary an officer receives. The good news is that you can start your career as a police officer and then proceed with getting a degree either as a part-time student or online.
Regardless of the approach you are going to choose, here is roughly how much time you need to get a law enforcement degree that can help you with your career:
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