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How do you become a Police Officer?


All you have to do to become a police officer is graduate high school, go to college, and get a bachelor's degree. #law-enforcement

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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Zander
There are law enforcement jobs that will accept a high school diploma - these are usually going to be smaller local police agencies. Many police agencies accept military service in lieu of a degree. Federal law enforcement - Special Agents require a 4 year degree. I would start looking at your local police department websites - under the career/employment section they will list educational requirements.
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Kimberly’s Answer

Some agencies/departments recommend getting experience in corrections or traffic enforcement if you are not old enough or do not have the required experience to be a police officer. These options (corrections/traffic) are great for your resume and often count towards experience needed to be a police officer. They also help you get familiar with the department you hope to work for and allow you to network, which means get to know people in the law enforcement world. It is a great foot in the door.

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

Contact your local department to see what their requirements are and if they have a corrections or traffic division.
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Harold’s Answer

Entering law enforcement is now a highly competitive profession. You will need education, the drive, ambition along with decent physical ability. Today, people aren't interested in entering law enforcement. Good luck! This is the job that will not make you rich or famous. I entered law enforcement to help people. I started as a police explorer and continued to college, earning a degree in Administration of Justice. Then I became the Associate advisor for the Same Explorer Post I assisted. I had eight explorers become police officers. Today, one of my former police explorers heads up the same explorer post.
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Robert’s Answer

To become a police officer requires a few things. For most departments in the US you must be 21 to apply, have no felony convictions and be physically fit. However to increase your odds of being hired here are some pointers: attend at least Junior College and get an Associate Degree (Criminal Justice, English, etc.). I would also suggest attending a police academy (POST) in many states you can pay to attend and cash strapped departments will give more notice of someone who has already completed their POST. If you are cash starved and just out of High school you might consider joining the military either active duty or reserve. Try to get a security/law enforcement job in the military. Apply to many agencies and go on ride alongs with those departments. If in college already contact department and agencies you’re interested in ask about internships. Hope this helps
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Zander!

Welcome to CareerVillage!
The way this program works is that students ask questions, and those questions are matched to like-minded professionals. The professionals then provide insight.

For example, a student might ask, " How do you become a police officer?"
And then people with experience in policing, or job placement, would look at it and probably respond by pointing out that, there are many variables. Each state has a licensing agency that sets minimum standards, and each police department within that state can set additional standards. Surprisingly, there are many places where college is NOT an initial requirement, although, that is changing. There are also requirements that can be waived if the applicant has acceptable military service, (such as the minimum age of 21).

If you are interested in law enforcement, the first thing to do is learn what the state standards are, and then look at the agencies you are interested in to see what additional requirements they have set.

In addition to academics, there are also physical standards, pertaining to physical fitness: strength, flexibility, and endurance. And health standards: vision, hearing, etc. Standards pertaining to moral character, criminal history, etc. The background checks are strenuous, and it's not uncommon for them to talk to teachers, employers, ex-girlfriends, etc. Some agencies have requirements about tattoos, so caution is needed when it comes to getting tattoos.

Many agencies have Youth Explorer programs that will give you a glimpse into the life of law enforcement. I suggest you look into that!

Please feel free to come back here with any career/schooling questions you may have!

Kim
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Andy’s Answer

Hi Zander,

There are a lot of agencies nation wide that will allow you to start off as a police officer with just a high school diploma, however the larger agencies generally require a bachelors degree or some college to apply to them. Also alot of agencies require you to have some college to a full degree in order to promote or move to another divison. Here is Texas there seems to be more and more agencies moving their minimum standards to having a college degree of some kind to come work for them.

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