Continuing Education Is Required
Education and training requirements do not stop for police officers after they join the force. Ongoing classroom, fitness and field training requirements are common among agencies for current officers. The requirements serve to ensure that officers are informed of the latest developments in their field and kept updated with changes ranging from new laws to new technology. Officers are not required to pursue new formal education pursuits as a rule. However, many choose to extend their college education to improve their skills for work and to strengthen their prospects for advancement.
What Will I Learn In A Police Officer Degree Program
While we cant speak for every program in Canada, Lauriers policing degree students can expect to learn the following:
- How to recognize and deal with trauma. Youll be able to identify the signs of trauma in yourself, your colleagues, and the community. You will also learn how to process and react to trauma
- Criminological and psychological theories. Youll learn to apply the foundations of good police and detective work
- The major debates in policing and justice today. Understanding different perspectives on these issues will help you become a better police officer
- Leadership, critical thinking, research, and conflict resolution skills and
- How to understand and appreciate the justice system of Canadas Indigenous people, and what your role as a law enforcement officer in their communities entails.
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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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:
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.
Police Departments In Texas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 63,000 police officers working in Texas as of 2017, making this the state with the second-highest number of police and sheriffs patrol officers in the US.4 The metro area of Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land has the fourth-highest employment level of police officers in the US, with over 16,600 officers in 2017.4 The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro ranked seventh, with over 10,600 officers.4
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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.
Job Outlook For Texas Police Officers
For those that plan on going into law enforcement in Texas, the future looks bright. Police and sheriffs patrol officer jobs are expected to increase by 9% In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas employed the second-highest number of police officers last year, 51,980, with New York state being a close behind.
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How To Become A Police Officer
When you think of a police officer, you probably picture someone who prevents and investigates crimes. While police officers certainly do deal with crime, they also engage in public service, act as first responders, work as security in courtrooms, and more. The duties of a police officer may change depending on whether they work for the federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies. You can pursue a police officer career with any of these agencies, and in many different capacitiesfrom a patrol officer to a bailiff, and from a game warden to a narcotics agent.
Gain Training And Experience
Police officer candidates are not required to have received training for the job if they are applying for an entry-level position. The training takes place after they are hired when they are sent to a police academy. Either academies are agency academies, which provide both basic police training and training that is specific to the agency, or they are regional or state academies, which train officers from several different jurisdictions. Training covers field-training topics, such as first aid, driving and firearms, and classroom topics, such as relevant laws and police ethics.
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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.|
Police Officer Salaries Across The Us
Salaries of police officers are based on many factors, including experience, skills and training. However, one of the most important factors is based on geography. Certain areas of the country pay more, but are often in areas that have higher costs of living. For more information about what police officers can make and where they can make it, check out the map below.
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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:
Obtaining A Bachelors Degree In Law Enforcement
Honours bachelors degrees in law enforcement are most often earned in three to four years. Entrance requirements will vary by institution, but undergraduate programs typically require completion of high school or equivalent.
Regardless of where you take your police studies degree, youll be expected to attend lectures , work on projects, write essays, and possibly take tests, quizzes, or exams. Provided you complete these challenges at or above the institutions standards, youll be awarded your degree.
Remember: only licensed, fully-accredited universities can offer police studies degrees that your employer will recognize.
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Selecting A Law Enforcement Degree
Before jumping into a degree that interests you, try to audit yourself and understand where you are really skilled and if you can apply it to your career. Some degrees make a lot of sense for police and law enforcement professionals, but that doesnt mean they are the right choices for you.
Envision where you want your career to go, what criminology degree jobs are a good fit for you, and pick a degree that will help you get there. To learn more about how West Liberty can put you on the path to advancing your career in law enforcement, talk to us to see what a Masters in Criminology can do for you.
Police Academy And On
Another important aspect of police officer education requirements is on-the-job training, which includes police academy training. When officers are hired onto a police force, they typically attend a Peace Officer Standards and Training Council -certified police academy for a certain number of hours. During POST training, officer candidates learn skills relevant to policing, such as firearms training, defense tactics, community policing, traffic enforcement, and report writing. POST-certified basic law enforcement academies typically include three to six months of full-time training, for which officers are paid.
Some cities allow these POST training hours to be applied to the number of credit hours required to be hired as a peace officer. For example, the Sacramento Police Department requires 60 semester credit hours of college to be hired, but 25 of those hours can be applied after the police academy training is completed, so technically only 35 hours of college credits are needed beyond the academy training that all officers receive. After attending a police academy that satisfies the POST requirements, most officers begin in the patrol division of the force, where they continue to learn on the job as a new patrol officer in field training, working under the supervision of a more experienced officer. After completing field training, officers are typically assigned to their first independent patrol.
How Long Is Police Academy
One of the most important steps, as well as possibly the most challenging, in your path to becoming a police officer is training at a police academy. Each state will have different requirements for the specifics of a police academy, but recruits will typically spend about 800 hours in training before graduation. In general, the academy will take about six months to complete.
Bachelors Degrees Are Becoming Increasingly Common Among Law Enforcement
While not a requirement for the job, its becoming increasingly common to see law enforcement officers with two- or four-year degrees. A found that more than half of sworn officers in the United States have at least a two-year degree, 30.2 percent have at least a four-year degree, and 5.4 percent have a graduate degree. The report notes that there is significant variation across states and agency size, among other factors. In California, which is one of the states with the highest percentage of officers with four-year degrees or higher, 39.5 percent of police officers have a bachelors degree. Lowe says that around 70 percent of police officers hired by the San Diego Police Department have at least an associate degree or the equivalent 60 college credits.
According to the Police Foundation, almost three-quarters of agencies pay officers an extra 1-7.49 percent for having a bachelors degree. Most agencies pay officers 1-2.49 percent more for a four-year degree than an associate degree or high school diploma. In addition, a college degree can be highly important for promotion, especially at the rank of lieutenant and above.
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What Kind Of Education Is Available In The Criminal Justice Field
Here are just some of the jobs typically filled by those with criminal justice degrees.
- Law Enforcement
- Private and Public Security
- Fraud Investigation
At a college or university, the criminal justice curriculum includes instruction in court structure and the legal system, policies and procedures of law enforcement, fundamentals of security and surveillance, and techniques used in the investigating, tracking, solving, and deterring crime.
When it comes to what you will learn during your degree program, that will vary by institution. Here are some of the areas you may be able to focus or specialize in.
- Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism
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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Career Outlook For Police Officers
Police officers are expected to experience job growth of five percent between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics . Although the need for qualified police officers to provide public safety will continue to grow, how many are actually hired is often dependent on local and state budgets.
As of May 2018, police officers nationwide earned an average annual wage of $65,400, but their wages ranged from $35,750 to $101,620. The average hourly wage for police officers across the nation was $31.44. Police officers earned the highest wages in the states of California, Alaska, New Jersey, Washington and Illinois.
Working as a police officer can be extremely rewarding but can also be stressful and dangerous. While earning a degree in criminal justice may not be necessary to become a police officer, it can be beneficial and can also help the police officer advance to leadership positions in the field.
Are Police Officers Happy
Police officers rank in the 56th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.
This career can be challenging, exciting, demanding and exhausting. There is usually a period adjustment where officers have to come to terms with all the bad things they must deal with on a daily basis. Focusing on the positives is crucial or the negatives can easily destroy one’s spirit.
In essence, police work is what you make it to be, and the individuals who lose focus on why they became police officers to begin with inevitably end up hating their job. Integrity, common sense, respect, and understanding are important traits that serve police officers well on the streets. Staying healthy is also a very important component to maintaining a clear head, as is finding time for friends and family outside of work.
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