Police Officer Titles And Career Concentrations
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:
What Degree Do You Need
High School Diploma
One of the most common questions that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become Police Patrol Officers or what courses do I need to take.
We also asked Police Patrol Officers what did they major in college or university and here are the top 5 most popular majors that came up.
|Natural Resources Law Enforcement and Protective Services|
|Law Enforcement Investigation and Interviewing|
|Law Enforcement Record-Keeping and Evidence Management|
Police Patrol Officers must have at least a high school education or GED and be a graduate of their agencys training academy. Many agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a college degree.
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.
Read Also: How To Look Up A Police Report
Do You Know How To Improve Your Profile For College Applications
See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now it only takes 3 minutes and it’s 100% free.
As a high school student, you probably hear a great deal about the importance of getting into a good college. However, you likely spend significantly less time talking about your future goals from a career perspective. As a result, when you get to college, you might not know what major to pursue or even which courses of study to explore. This can lead to students taking a much longer path to get where they ultimately end up!
At CollegeVine, were passionate about helping high schoolers determine what careers will bring them happiness for the long haul. Thats why we started this career series, so you can learn more about potential professions that might suit you.
If youre wondering how to become a police officer, well go over the steps you should take, starting from high school.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Hire A Police Officer For A Party
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.
What Is Police Academy Like
Police in training are called recruits. To be properly trained as police officers, you must attend police academy, or law enforcement training school. Each state has its own set of requirements for their law enforcement training so, depending on which state youre training in will determine how it looks. Police academy provides the recruit with both hands-on and classroom training.
Read Also: How Much Is A Police Bulletproof Vest
Bachelors Degrees In Criminal Justice
A bachelors degree is a four-year program that is around 120-semester credits . Students often enter a bachelors in criminal justice straight out of high school. Others complete an associate program first, meaning they have already completed roughly half of the required credits for a bachelors degree.
Students entering from high school must cover all the same lower-level coursework from an associate program . The final two years cover upper-level courses, which could include the following:
- Criminal law: Officers need to understand the U.S. Constitution so they can properly collect evidence, protect suspects rights, and arrest them.
- Applied research: Youve already learned what statistics mean this class is about using collected statistics to make decisions. For instance, you might be asked to determine how to deploy officers and use department funds to best prevent crime.
- Criminal psychology: This class is about getting into criminals heads to learn why they behave the way they do. Its important for crime prevention as well as rehabilitation efforts.
Weve laid out all the details on bachelors degrees in criminal justice on our site. You may want to take a look if youre interested in careers outside patrol. The FBI, for example, requires special agents to hold a bachelors degree. Fish and game wardens also need a four-year degree.
What Is The Law Enforcement Entrance Exam Like
The Law Enforcement Entrance exam is a pretty daunting beast due to all its components. While each jurisdiction may use a different exam, there are still similarities amongst the law enforcement exams.
When you take the law enforcement entrance exam, here is an overview of what to expect:
- The written exam which will have multiple choice, true and false, and open-ended questions.
- With the Law Enforcement Exam Essay, candidates taking the exam write an essay in response to a prompt.
- Much like a resume, the Personal History Statement will give potential employers a look at your working history which will include your education, as well as work history.
- There will be an extensive background check using the personal history statement as their sort of road map into your life.
- Your physical fitness will be tested through the Physical Ability Test . This test is done to ensure you will physically be able to handle police academy. Your strength, endurance, and flexibility will all be put to the test.
- A hiring panel made up of police department leaders, local business people, and local government reps will interview you for the Oral Interview process.
- Of course, a medical evaluation will be conducted, as well as a psychological examination to make sure that you are mentally and physically healthy enough to work as a police officer.
Read Also: What Do Police Drones Look Like
Working Conditions For A Police Officer
Australian Federal Police officers work shifts. Their duties vary from team to team. They are required to serve anywhere in Australia, or in the Australian territories of Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands and Jervis Bay, and be willing to move with the job depending on operational requirements.
Is A Degree In Criminal Justice Worth The Effort
As you consider the merits of obtaining a degree in criminal justice, it will probably occur to you that you can become a police officer more quickly if you forgo the degree and just sign on with a police force, where you will be given basic training in the police academy. However, you won’t just be passing up possible opportunities to earn a higher salary in the future, but also maybe even the opportunity to work in a variety of interesting fields as your career advances.
Some of the jobs holders of criminal justice degrees might also go for are legal assistant, paralegal, detective, criminal investigator, forensic science technician, police supervisor, probation officer, corrections officer, security guard, fraud investigator, FBI agent, CIA agent, U.S. postal inspector, immigration and customs enforcement agent, DEA agent, Secret Service agent, blood splatter analyst, U.S. marshal, and transit and railroad police.
But aside from the great career diversity the criminal justice field offers, a degree in CJ also provides students with a richer background that will help them put their skills to better use once they begin work. Criminal justice instructors generally bring their own varied experiences into the classroom, and can help students develop a deeper understanding of the challenges they will face in the field and the best ways to respond to them.
It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
Recommended Reading: Can The Police Track Your Iphone
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.
Applying To And Attending The Police Academy
Once youve met the age and schooling requirements for your state, you will need to pass a background and drug test. Additionally, aspiring cops must take a written exam and pass a physical agility assessment. While the written part of the test assesses factors like reading comprehension and vocabulary, the physical test includes components such as running, doing push-ups, and performing sit-ups. The goal is to assess flexibility, endurance, and muscle strength, among other factors. Some states also require applicants to pass a psychological exam prior to being admitted to the program.
After youre accepted to the police academy, you will undergo training in a variety of areas. Along with topics like firearm usage and self-defense, prospective officers learn about first aid, conflict management, and emergency driving techniques.
While the average program takes around six months to complete, requirements vary by state, and some police training programs last longer or shorter. During this time, you can expect to spend around eight hours a day training to be a cop.
You May Like: How To Obtain Police Clearance Certificate
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:
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.
Also Check: What Do You Do In The Police Academy
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.
S To Becoming A Police Officer:
It is generally accepted that the minimum entry requirements for admission into a police academy is a high school diploma. In some cases a G.E.D may be accepted as a substitute. It is important for candidates to be able to demonstrate that they have the ability to comprehend, apply, and utilize knowledge learned.
Although not a stringent requirement, an undergraduate or associates degree could be a bonus. Courses may be taken in areas such as criminology, law enforcement, or a related discipline.
Entry into the police force is highly competitive. One of the key advantages of pursuing a higher education is that it has the potential of giving you an edge with prospective employers. Furthermore, an associates degree in, for example, criminal justice, serves to introduce individuals to a host of knowledge and practical skills that may be very useful in the line of duty as a police officer. These include an introduction to basic criminal law practices, investigation techniques, how to document crimes properly, crisis management, etc. Such a degree will also be useful if you intend to become a detective, seek out an administrative position, or wish to work at the federal level.
In addition, experience in the military is highly valued. The mental and physical challenges that life in the military present are important in preparing individuals for the demands of a job as an officer.
Recommended Reading: How To Find Police Records Online For Free
Get The Right Police Education & Training
There was a time when becoming a police officer was as simple as graduating high school or earning your GED, then attending a short training academy before diving into on-the-job training. And though those opportunities do still exist, especially in smaller departments, most departments have raised their standards of education to at least two years of post-secondary work. This means pursing an associate degree in law enforcement or a related field, such as criminal justice, criminology, or police science should be the first option to consider. The associate degree can then serve as a stepping stone to the bachelors degree, which then leads to graduate degree options.
However, other routes to the profession do exist. In addition to the on-the-job training after completing academy training, there is also the military option. Those who work as military police or in a similar capacity while serving their country can be perfectly suited to move into a police force after their military time is up. Lets take a look at the options.
Associate Degree in Law Enforcement
Bestfor? Those who want to stand outagainst the competition, or need a basic college degree to apply fora particular job opening.
Bachelors Degree in Law Enforcement
Best for? Those who have the time and financial resources to earn a four-year degree, want to work in federal law enforcement, or anticipate future professional advancement.
Masters Degree in Law Enforcement
Military experience in lieu of a degree