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Police Officer Requirements - Police Officer Requirements for Joining the Force

volunteering to learn educational requirements testing and exams tips to keep in mind

Police officers have demanding jobs that often involve dangerous situations and intense experiences. Whether working behind the desk in the police station or out on patrol in the field, police men and women are constantly involved in social situations where they must make intelligent decisions based on the facts regarding the safety and protection of other people. Through the process of becoming a police officer, the proper education and training ensure that he or she is prepared to do the best job they can. Here are some basic requirements that will be of use for anyone who wants to be a police officer.

Volunteering to Learn

Volunteering with the local police force is a way to gain experience and knowledge about the job. Typically, volunteers for the police department must be eighteen or twenty-one years old, have a clean criminal background check, have a high school education or equivalent, and be physically fit. Every city has their own police officer requirements for volunteers, but this is an option for those who are interested in learning more about what it takes to be a police officer before continuing with their career prospect.

Ten Best Cities for Police Officer Employment

Omaha, NE
Little Rock, AR
Jackson, MS
Des Moines, IA
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
Wichita, KS
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
Chattanooga, TN
Colorado Springs, CO
Ogden-Clearfield, UT

Step-by-Step Instructions

Once the decision is made to become a police officer, choose which type of service is most appealing. Local small town law enforcement positions involve aspects such as public involvement, directing traffic for funeral services, working with other local agencies, and typically interacting with fewer fellow employees on a daily basis. Larger cities have more action due to the increased population, and these police officers work in a more stressful environment, requiring more of their time and energy. Decide which area of service would be best, and pick an agency in that location. Consider going for a ride-along with a police officer from the desired location in order to gain exposure to see if that region or agency is a match.

The next step is to prepare for the whole multitude of examinations that are described in detail below. After passing the tests and exams, the candidate will be required to attend the police academy to gain necessary training as a police officer. The costs for the police academy varies depending on the area, but usually there are scholarships, waivers, and financial assistance to cover the entire cost of these programs. In some states, once accepted into the program, the entire cost is waived, but in other states the price of the program can be around $3,000.00. Also, the police officer in training will be required to purchase their uniform and equipment for the job once accepted into the police academy. Most often, the department that is anticipating hiring the officer will cover all the uniform and equipment costs. Once the training is completed successfully, the candidate will take the oath of the police officer, and begin field training with the agency where they will be employed. After all of that, they will finally become a police officer.

Educational Requirements

The educational basics begin with a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED). Further education is recommended in order to advance in one’s career, and often is required in certain areas where employment guidelines for police officers are more selective. An Associates or Bachelors degree will give the prospective officer additional education, and subjects such as Criminal Justice, Sociology, Psychology, Public Speaking, and Political Science can benefit a student who plans to one day become a police officer. The cumulative college education will also provide the individual with more education on a multitude of subjects that will be useful in their future as a law enforcement officer. Most college educations can be paid for using financial aid, work study programs, federal grants or loans, or scholarships. Typically students, especially those who are pursuing a certain career path, such as police officers, can apply for assistance through the program they are involved in, and provided that they are willing to commit to working in that field upon graduation, the costs will be covered and they will have a job waiting for them when they graduate. Check with the local departments that are of interest for a future job position to see if they offer educational assistance.

Testing and Exams

To become a police officer, the candidate must undergo drug testing, a criminal background check, a D.M.V. (Division of Motor Vehicles) driving record check, a lie detector test, and a physical exam that includes tests of hearing, vision, strength, and agility. Also, the candidate will be required to take a civil service exam through the department they are planning on gaining employment. Study guides can be purchased to prepare for this exam. Once all of these tests and exams are completed successfully, the final exam will be an interview by a senior ranking officer who will evaluate personal characteristics, such as responsibility, judgment, integrity, and honesty, through a personality test.

Tips to Keep in Mind

As a youth any acts of rebellion that lead to police involvement can disrupt the chances of being hired as a police officer. Maintain the character traits that are expected of police officers as this shows the determination and loyalty to positive public service. Also, consider joining the military or service such as the Coast Guard. This is a route for people to take to gain the physical and mental conditioning required for law enforcement employment.

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