What’s It Like To Be A Police Officer
Police Officers serve to protect public life and property. They undertake extensive on-the-job training and perform a diverse range of duties, including: maintaining public order and safety being first responder to emergency calls investigating and prosecuting criminal offences enforcing traffic law securing and examining crime scenes and dealing with violent offenders or people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Tasks and duties
- Securing and examining scenes of crimes and accidents.
- Maintaining public order and safety and preventing anti-social behaviour.
- Pursuing, arresting and interviewing suspected offenders.
- Enforcing traffic law including testing suspected alcohol and drug-affected drivers.
- Managing traffic at congested areas.
- Providing advice and assistance to victims of crime and their families.
- Dealing with drug and alcohol affected people.
- Attending critical incidents and emergencies.
- Protecting witnesses of major crimes.
- Documenting incident reports, maintaining records and preparing regular reports.
Police Officers in Australia are required to carry a firearm and must pass a series of background checks and psychometric, fitness and medical tests.
Police Officers interact with members of the public daily and must be adept at resolving disputes, de-escalation, and remaining calm under pressure.
What Are The Minimum Requirements For Ontario Police Officer Applicants In Ontario
Before applying, ensure that you meet the minimum requirements. The following list of application requirements applies to most police agencies in Ontario:
- Minimum 18 years of age
- Fluency in English
- Canadian high school diploma or equivalent
- Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Valid current standard first aid / CPR C certification
- Class ‘G’ driver’s license, full driving privileges, and a maximum of 6 demerit points
- No criminal convictions which have not been pardoned and no criminal charges pending
In addition to the above, the Toronto Police Service requires candidates to meet the following requirements:
- Possess a valid O.A.C.P. certificate,
- Be able to pass a security clearance as well as a background investigation, credit check, and reference check.
Willingness to serve anywhere in the province is an additional requirement for those applying to the Ontario Provincial Police.
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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Physical Requirements To Become A Police Officer
Beyond the basic bio requirements, you will also need to meet physical requirements, such as:
- Basic physical criteria
- Good vision and hearing
- Mental strength
The physical requirements will vary from state to state and even city to city. For example in LA, male applicants must have a body fat percentage of less than 22%. In Philadelphia, recruits must pass a physical fitness test to be accepted into the training academy.
If you meet these essential requirements, you can move forward with education and training, which may include formal college courses, an important part of how to become a police officer.
Helpful Course: Btec In Uniformed Public Services
This is a more vocational 2-year course offered by Sixth Forms and Colleges. It is equivalent to 3 A-Levels and you will need to have 4 GCSE passes to be able to join the course, as well as do an interview .
This course is designed to give you some insight into working in the emergency services, and will therefore be incredibly relevant to someone who wishes to become a Police Officer. You will be taught by someone with experience in the field, and benefit from a number of practical activities.
By taking this course, there is a possibility that you will be able to go straight into working in the emergency services, though there are also potential pathways to lead you to University should you want to continue your studies.
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Continuing Education And Career Advancement
Once you have completed all of these steps to becoming a police officer, you will still have plenty to learn. Nothing beats on-the-job experience to show you all of the specialized areas police officers might want or need to learn more about. The best officers are never done learning.
Similar to other industries, officers must meet continuing education requirements in order to renew their license. For example, Minnesota police officer requirements mandate a minimum of 48 hours of continuing education within the three-year licensing period in order to maintain their license.
In addition, active officers are required to train annually in use of force and once every five years in emergency vehicle operations/pursuit driving. Specialized training may also be directed by your police department based on federal and local needs. Departments might also incentivize other education opportunities to encourage their officers forward. Additional training or credentials may be required for those looking to climb the police ranks.
Pass The Licensing Exam
The next step to becoming a police officer is to earn a passing score on your states police licensing board exam. Your education and training will prepare you to take the Peace Officer Standards and Training exam.
Each state has its own licensing board, so the tests will also vary. But generally speaking, most POST exams cover topics like: practical application and techniques, civil and criminal law, community policing, victims rights and management and communication. By passing this capstone exam, you are licensed to become a police officer and enforce the law in your jurisdiction. You are now free to seek employment with a police department.
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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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What Kind Of Training And Education Are Needed To Become A Cop
Police education requirements and training required to be a police officer varies among individual departments and agencies. The requirements also depend on the rank or position that an applicant seeks. In general, though, police officers have completed at least a high school education and have undergone extensive training in a police academy dedicated to preparing new charges for the life of a cop. In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the median annual salary for police and detectives was$67,290.
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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.
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. Here’s 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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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.
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 generally around Â£19,000, 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.
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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.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Police Officer
The life of a police officer is a high-demand career, requiring the upmost integrity, a broad assortment of mental and physical skills, and a steadfast commitment to the protection of your community or the nation as a whole. As such, vigorous training is needed for this noble profession.
But first, you have to meet some of the most basic requirements, including
- U.S. citizen
- 18 years of age
- Valid drivers license
- Clean criminal record*
*It is possible to be hired as a police officer if your record only has minor offenses in the distant past. Felonies will disqualify you from entry as a police officer.
Additionally, an entrance exam testing basic comprehension skills is typically required to be accepted as a police recruit and enter the training academy. View a study guide to get an idea of what type of questions may be asked.
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Key Qualifications And Qualities Of A Police Officer
When thinking about the top characteristics of a police officer, words like brave and heroic may come to mind. Police officers, after all, are the source of safety for the general public. They are the professionals who respond to local threats and emergencies. They help to keep criminals off the streets, and work to protect citizens and their communities from harm. This job is not easy, and there are many capabilities beyond strength and bravery that officers must possess to be great at what they do.
Most police officers today are passionate about serving their communities and have the necessary training to carry out their jobs. They have honed skills in emergency response, decision-making, public communication, ethics, and empathy. However, there is no denying that issues still exist within the police force. Recent events have shed light on bad cops versus good cops, and the dire changes that need to take place within the criminal justice system. Perhaps that is why you are here to become a police officer and to become an example for your community.
This begs the question, What are the qualities of a good police officer? Which skills and qualifications should an officer have, to be successful and respectable in their roles?
Is There A Probationary Period
Yes. For those joining through the traditional entry route or the degree holder route, this is two years. For those joining through the police constable apprenticeship, this is throughout the duration of the apprenticeship . This means you will be working alongside experienced officers during this period so that you gain valuable on-the-job skills and experience that will complement your classroom-based learning.
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Characters Of A Good Police Officer
Eligibility for employment as a police officer includes education, training, interviewing and testing. This process can weed out candidates that do not have characteristics of a good police officer. Some considerations to make before applying for this type of career include:
- How well you work with people
- Dealing with the public
- Ability to show good judgment
- Willingness to work shifts
Some departments may require candidates to pass a polygraph test before considering them for a position, and a criminal background check that shows a record can disqualify a candidate, depending on the charge. Those employed by a police department can expect to have random drug tests throughout their careers. Federal law enforcement jobs have requirements that are more stringent.
What Do Related Occupations Make
If you’re interested in how to become a police officer, you might also be interested in related professions. Working as a correctional officer, EMT or paramedic, firefighter, probation officer, security guard, gaming surveillance officer, game warden or firefighter might be on your radar. If that’s the case, you can peruse the list of related occupations below, which includes average salaries:
What you earn depends on where you live, including the region, state or city. To help determine what you can expect to make in your particular area, our handy salary comparison tool can help.
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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:
- 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: