What You Will Do
Police officers may do some or all of the following:
- patrol selected areas on foot or by car
- help people in a wide range of emergencies
- investigate crimes, domestic disturbances, serious crashes and sudden deaths
- interview people and take statements
- search for and arrest suspected criminals
- write reports
- work with schools to provide safety and crime prevention education.
Do You Need A Degree To Be A Cop
To be completely clear, formal education, such as an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree is not actually a strict requirement for becoming a police officer. However, many departments across the country are requiring at least a two-year degree, while others are placing a strong emphasis on hiring 4-year college graduates.
Even when not an official requirement for a job opening, having your college degree will be immensely helpful in the hiring process. Despite the fact that these are extremely challenging jobs, there can be lots of competition for positions, so having a formal degree, in addition to the required police training, will make you a more attractive job candidate.
Not only will a degree enhance your chances of being hired, it will also increase your chances of being promoted. At some point in your career, you may want to move into leadership roles, such as a captain or sergeant having a bachelors degree in an appropriate area will make you more likely to find promotion.
Importance Of Physical Education
Make no mistake, police officers spend hours at their desks writing reports, documenting crime incidents and researching cases. But police officers must be ready to spring into action any moment, which may involve running, climbing or grappling with an uncooperative suspect. Many high schools ask students to complete one or two years of P.E. to fulfill graduation requirements.
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Ready To Start Working Your Way To A Police Detective Badge
Your dream police detective career wont happen overnight, but you likely didnt expect it to. Detectives do some seriously crucial work in society. They need to be well trained and good at solving crimes. Now that you know how to become a police detective, youre a little closer to cracking some of those cases yourself!
You know whatll be expected of you, you understand youll need extra training and youre ready to wait until a department needs your skills as a detective. If youre ready to tackle the first step toward becoming a police detectiveeducation, then learn more about Rasmussen Colleges Criminal Justice degree programs and how they can help make you a more well-rounded candidate for law enforcement positions.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, . EDITORS NOTE: This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated. Insights from Carlin remain from the original article.
How Do I Make Myself More Marketable
California is a highly desirable state to work in, so it doesnt hurt to stick out from the bunch. Having an associates degree in Criminal Justice can be highly beneficial. If you dont have that, it doesnt hurt to take some criminology classes to boost your knowledge and expertise. Are you bilingual? Awesome! Many police agencies in the Golden State are searching for candidates who can speak in other languages in addition to English particularly Spanish.
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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.
Police Now Graduate Schemes
Police Now is an independent charity with a mission to transform communities by recruiting, developing and inspiring diverse leaders in policing.
The organisation works in partnership with police forces to attract, recruit and train outstanding graduates with leadership potential to be inspirational detectives and police officers through their award-winning national graduate programmes.
Equipping participants with core policing skills, Police Now’s two-year national graduate programmes help to develop leadership, communication and problem-solving skills that will serve graduates, and the wider community, for a lifetime.
The two graduate programmes are:
- National Graduate Leadership Programme which trains and develops graduates to become leaders in neighbourhood policing. Participants are placed in some of the most challenging communities in England and Wales, getting to know the issues up close and developing innovative ideas and techniques to tackle the challenges residents are facing.
- National Detective Programme which is designed to equip graduates with the core policing skills required in modern investigative work. Throughout the programme, participants play an important part in solving crimes while developing leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Both programmes involve the completion of a Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice with the University of Huddersfield.
To be eligible for Police Now’s national graduate programmes, you must:
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What Should I Major In To Become A Police Officer
One of the noblest callings you can answer is that of protecting your community, and one of the most direct ways of doing that is by becoming a police officer. Those who aspire to work in the criminal justice field will find a variety of settings to explore, in addition to that of being a patrol officer, including security, forensic science, computer technology, and investigations.
Picking The Right Program
Once you know which program level you want to pursue, its time to figure out which one best suits your needs. When researching the schools that make it onto your all-important shortlist, keep the following questions in mind:
- Is the school regionally accredited?
- Can you afford the tuition?
- Does the timeline fit with your future goals?
- Does the program have a high success rate?
- Does the program provide POST exam prep?
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How To Become A Police Officer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- the Police Now graduate leadership scheme
Alternatively you could self-fund a Professional Policing Degree before applying to join a force. You are not guaranteed a job at the end of the course. Instead, you have to apply for probationary constable roles within 5 years of completing this degree.
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
Think About Your Intentions
Now that you are familiar with the area you would be serving, think about what you could do to make this community a better place to live. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the most rewarding part of being a police officer?
- What got you into this line of work?
- What part of the job is most challenging?
- Why are you interested in criminal justice?
After answering these questions, come up with your main reasons for becoming a police officer. In your answer, you can share multiple reasons why you want this position. Make sure your answer shows that you are an ethical person who has a passion for public safety. Here are some good reasons people typically pursue this profession:
- To save lives
- To help others make better life choices
- To do new things every day
- To build comradery among police officers
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Toronto Police Officer Application Process
The process outlined below belongs to the Toronto Police Service. Most police agencies in Ontario follow a similar process.
Applicants can be declined at any stage in the application process. The most suitable candidates in the application pool are selected amongst those who pass every stage.
Once you have been selected, you advance to recruit training. In the Toronto Police Service application process, you are sent to the Ontario Police College for recruit training. Recruits need to pass this program in order to become a police officer.
Spanish For Better Communication
While not always a high school requirement, some schools do require one year of foreign language prior to graduation. Learning any foreign language helps develop adaptation skills, problem solving and open-mindedness towards different cultures. Choosing to learn a language commonly spoken by community members can help police officers interact with people whose first language is not English more effectively.
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Math Requirements For Police Officers
High schools require a specified number of math credits for potential graduates, so stay on track by earning good grades in math classes. Math helps future police officers by developing critical thinking and analytical skills for problem solving. Working neatly and accurately on math assignments and exams helps police officers keep organized, accurate records in the field. You may also use basic math to reconstruct auto collisions and track crime statistics.
Reasons I’m Still A Police Officer
One of the first things you need to know is that becoming a police officer today is perhaps one of the most rigorous and trying experiences a person can have. In the old days, it wasnt unusual for someone to be hired, given a gun and a badge and then told, OK, youre hired. Start tonight at midnight! Not so today.
Here are some other things you need to consider if you’d like to pursue this challenging and rewarding career.
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
- providing support to police officers
- conducting house-to-house enquiries
- 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 you’ll 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 you’ll 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. You’ll 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.
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.|
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Job Outlook For Ontario Police Officers
The labour market conditions for police officer jobs are currently Average. This indicates that these jobs are not difficult to find nor are they necessarily in abundance. Salaries have increased at a slower rate compared to jobs rated as Above average, but faster than those rated as Below average.
According to the Job Bank, employment growth and retirement will lead to a moderate number of new positions. In other words, the balanced labour market from 2016 – 2018 means there have been as many jobs available as there have been job seekers.
Right To Have A Chaperone
You have the right to a chaperone at any time during the medical exam.
- ask the medical clinic to have a staff member in the room
- stop the exam at any time to ask questions about what the doctor is doing
- stop the exam and ask for a chaperone, even if you refused one at first
If you have questions or feel uncomfortable with a part of the exam, please ask the panel physician to stop and tell them about your concerns.
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The Application Process For Police Officer Candidates
It isnt easy becoming a police officer. Potential candidates need to go through a stringent application process designed to weed out those who dont have what it takes to become outstanding police officers.
Police officers help maintain peace and order and ensure that members of the community stay safe. This job comes with immense responsibility. The application process itself is not for everyone.
Canadian police agencies generally follow the same process which involves a series of tests, checks and interviews, including:
- A written exam
- A polygraph exam
- A background investigation
Some of these tests require detailed paperwork but minimal preparation. For some tests, like the physical tests, you would be best prepared if you did a fitness training program, prior to, depending on your fitness level. Other tests, like the polygraph exam, require no preparation at all.
Applicants can be declined at any point in the stages listed above and even if a candidate passes every stage, an offer of employment is not guaranteed.
Once you have completed all assessments, your entire application package is reviewed and measured against other applicants to determine the most suitable candidates for the role as a police officer.
If you are recruited, you can expect a conditional offer of employment that allows you to advance to the final step before you become a police officer: cadet training.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer In Ontario
There is no set time period for the hiring process. It varies between police agencies and also depends on the successful completion of all the stages in the application process. You can expect to set aside 6 months for the application process.
If you are not successful in any part of the process, some police agencies may require a one-year waiting period before another application can be submitted.
To find out how long it takes at the police agency of your choice, contact the police agency directly.
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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:
What Are The Minimum Requirements
Heres a look at the minimum requirements to become a police officer in California. Keep in mind that the majority of police departments in the state follow POST requirements. You can find the agencies that dont here their requirements may vary, but are likely to be similar to the below:
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- You must be a citizen of the US through either naturalization or birth.
- You must have attained either your high school diploma or GED. Some agencies may require a 4-year degree or an associates degree.
- You must have a valid drivers license.
- No felony convictions or misdemeanors that prohibit ownership, possession or control of a firearm.
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Why Employers Ask Why Do You Want To Be A Police Officer
A prospective employer might ask why you want to be a police officer to learn why you want to get into such a demanding career. As a police officer, you have to work in challenging situations on a daily basis. Though this work can be extremely rewarding, it does come with some risks. It takes a motivated and passionate person to be an effective and reliable police officer.
Police departments want to ensure that their officers are committed to their role as protectors and are entering the force for the right reasons. They are looking for ethical people who want to make their communities safer places to live. A quality police officer genuinely wants to help people and reduce the rate of crime, so an interviewer may ask you this question to make sure you are dedicated to these goals.