What training is required to be a Police Officer (Ultimate Guide)
Updated on January 20, 2023
4 minute read
This guide gives you insight and valuable pro tips on how to become a police officer along with questions and answers typically asked by people searching for information on the law enforcement hiring process.
If you are wondering where to start you are not alone. A common question amongst police officer candidates is what training is required to be a Police Officer.
PRO TIP: The process can be long and complicated if you don't have guidance from a direct mentor who may already be employed in the field. If you do not have a mentor at this time and are alone trying to navigate yourself through the weeks of becoming a police officer you have landed on the right blog article.
Training is required to be a police officer both before being hired and while in the police academy prior to graduation. I want to be sure to answer the main question to satisfy both ways of looking at this.
First, lets take a look at some valuable information for those of you looking to get into the law enforcement field.
What are a Police Officer's Job Duties?
A Police Officer's job duties include patrolling their jurisdiction, sector, or beat and providing deterrence to crime and disorder as well as answering calls for service that range from minor problems to very complex situations.
Additionally, officers have the duty to investigate the allegations that criminal statutes were, are or about to be violated and act necessary to bring about peace. Many local, county and state Police Officers also are charged with the responsibility to enforce traffic laws on roads and highways as well as direct traffic.
A Police Officer has the sworn authority to charge individuals with violations of state and local laws, they write police reports and they testify in court. Law Enforcement Officers investigate and process evidence at crime scenes and motor vehicle accidents and they are are trained to provide first aid and CPR.
Police work can be complicated and complex as officers are required to respond to emergency calls at all hours of the day and night and with little to no information about what they are going to. They investigate traffic accidents of all different sizes and certainly no easy task is arresting criminals that can be extremely violent at times.
Why become a police officer?
Being a law enforcement officer can be one of the most fulfilling jobs you can find. Qualified candidates will enter the police academy and start with a rewarding experience alongside other men and women who share the same excitement and commitment.
At the commencement of the law enforcement training, you will embark on a career that can take you down many different paths with only you in the driver's seat.
The job itself is challenging but the brotherhood and camaraderie can't be found in many other jobs. As of 2021, the average US Police Officer salary was 15% higher than all other average U.S. salaries.
Many Police Officers nationwide are part of a collective bargaining unit or union who can represent police officers at the bargaining table for better health insurance, time off, and pay.
With tens of thousands of law enforcement agencies in the United States, the land is full of location, variety, opportunity, type of police force, and specialties offered.
How long does it take to become a Police Officer?
It can take an individual anywhere from 4 months to 11 months to become fully sworn in and working independently.
This, of course, depends on the state in which you become employed in and their (POST) Police Officer Standards and Training requirement. After graduating from the criminal justice training academy most police officers will work up to six months alongside a senior officer while assigned to a field training program.
|Click Here to read our article "Top Reasons to be a Police Officer"|
When were police invented?
The concept of peace officers has ancient origins, dating back to early civilizations. In ancient Egypt, officials known as "medjay" were responsible for maintaining order and enforcing the Pharaoh's decrees.
In ancient Rome, individuals called "lictors" accompanied magistrates to uphold law and order.
Medieval England saw the emergence of constables and sheriffs, who were responsible for local law enforcement. The constable's role was to keep the peace within a township, while sheriffs oversaw law enforcement in a county. These early peace officers laid the foundation for modern policing.
What are the requirements to be a Cop?
The requirements to be a Cop differ from state to state and agency to agency but most address specific requirements that include but are not limited to citizenship, age, education, driver's license, firearms permitting, criminal history, physical fitness, and residency.
Most states have a state division of government called Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) which set minimum selection standards for police officers. Police departments that have achieved accreditation need to meet or exceed these minimum standards set by their state POST.
Police departments often require applicants to be U.S. citizens, or in some cases, permanent resident aliens who have applied for citizenship. Some agencies require officers to reside within their jurisdictions while others do not.
Driver's License Requirement
A valid state driver's license is a requirement for any sworn law enforcement position. Your driving history will be checked during your background investigation.
Most agencies expect officers to have a high school diploma or GED at a minimum. Some agencies require a bachelor’s degree or a minimum number of college credit hours. Other agencies require you to have military service or education or a combination of the two. The job posting will have this information on it.
Ability to obtain a license or permit to carry firearms
Most agencies will require you to be of standard fitness to carry a firearm and use it. If you cannot pass the qualifications to possess and carry a firearm your chances of being a police officer are slim unless the agency you choose to apply to does not require the use of firearms.
Physical Fitness Requirement
This requirement will vary from state to state and possibly agency to agency.
What training in the Police Academy is required to be a Police Officer that is a separate set of answers that start here..
Your Police Academy training starts with teaching you discipline, team building, self reliance, strength conditioning, drill and ceremony, defensive tactics, along with;
Motor Vehicle Law
Emergency Vehicle Operations
Crime Scene Investigations
Many more exciting training classes
Where do I start?
The answer to this question might shock you and if you are a teen or in your twenties kudos for doing the research now because you are ahead of the game.
You should start the process of becoming a police officer as soon as you can by living a clean life, making good decisions, and practicing having character and integrity in every area of your personal life. This means that if you go to high school and play sports you want to have a great attendance record, study hard, use clean language, and be a leader.
If you are in college you want to practice the same behavior along with picking up a part-time or full-time job that you can start building a work history with. College parties and running with a bad crowd is not where you want to be. That will catch up with you during a background investigation.
So, if you are thinking hard about becoming a police officer the road to the badge starts now by being a leader and a role model.
What qualifications to be a Police Officer?Leader
Can you guide and inspire others during hard times? Can you motivate people to do the right thing even in challenging times?Character
Are you an honest and reliable person? Do you treat people with respect? Police ethics are at the forefront of America.Integrity
Would you do the right thing even when nobody else is looking?Physically Fit
There is physical training in the police academy such as jogging, running, lifting weights, boxing, etc. Being physically fit should start as soon as possible for you because when you attend your oral board interview and medical exam these two stages will matter whether the agency will want to invest in you.Intelligent
Are you a quick learner who can make both common sense decisions and on-the-fly decisions regarding state and local laws? Are you able to multitask 2 - 3 things of importance at a time?Military experience
Did you or have you been serving your country? Valuable training, education, and experience can be learned in the military. A military-status veteran can get points on both entrance and promotional exams.Selective Service System Registration
Almost all men ages 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or are immigrants living in the U.S. are required to register with Selective Service. Citizens must register within 30 days of turning 18. Immigrants must register within 30 days of arriving in the U.S. You can verify your selective service registration or create a new registration here.College Education or Experience
Having a college degree in criminal justice or even still working towards your college degree is very positive in the hiring process. College degree work, however, should show that you are studying hard and receiving solid grades. It is not uncommon to have a background investigation turn up at your college or university even though you will have to submit transcripts with your application. More on that later.Volunteering
If you can show a history of volunteerism on your resume or talk about it during your oral board interview it will be very positive.Solid Work History
Hiring agencies like to see work history that includes positions held in the criminal justice field, however, right behind that is any employment with a record of showing up on time, not calling out sick, volunteering for overtime, and no violations of company policy. Us the job you have now to build a solid work history or get a job and start building that foundation that you can show when you do start the application process.PRO TIP: Adding to your qualifications
While you are waiting to take a civil service/agency recruitment test you can score points by doing the following:
- Join the armed forces and specialize in law enforcement or other assignments where you can complete training in a law enforcement field.
Take and complete a first aid and CPR class so that you are trained and have the certificate to prove it.
- Work for a state agency where a pension is offered. Once you successfully pass the hiring process for a police department and are hired the pension that you had accrued with the state agency may transfer over.
If your state requires citizens to possess a firearms license or permit you can complete this and it will show that you have passed a background check and possessed the minimum requirements to possess and carry a firearms according to your state law.
Police Officer job openings or Police Officer candidate announcements are posted in many ways online, on billboards, on sites like indeed.com, careerfinder.com, in the newspaper, and more.
5 Tips for Becoming a Police OfficerCredit history
One thing we haven't mentioned yet is credit history and credit score. You will want to ensure you have a history of paying your debts and are free from bankruptcy.Ex Partners
If your background investigator were to visit your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend or divorced spouse what would they say about you?Home Visit
If your background investigator were to come to your house unannounced what would they see in your yard and your house? Do you keep things tidy or are you a mess?Social Media
Do a checkup of your social media to ensure you are a positive person free of any racial or biased posts. Removing yourself from social media altogether is what many people looking to be police officers and even police officers in general do so that they are not tagged in things that can be looked at as being inappropriate.Mentor
Find a Police Officer that works for a law enforcement agency that would want to be your mentor and they can answer any questions that you may have about the job and the process to become a police officer.
Are Police Officers public officials?
Yes, Police Officers can be considered public officials because many fit the definition of "public official" which is an elected or appointed official, or employee of a federal, state or local government of the United States.
Furthermore, Police Officers in all 50 states are POST certified meaning that they have to pass certification and training requirements set out by the state and they have to re-certify every so often.
A Police Officer by law need to attend and successfully complete the police academy after being hired by their appointing agency. Police Officers also need to complete in-service training annually in order to keep their certification.
About the Author
Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.
Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.
Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption.
You can find Brian on Linkedin here.
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