Police officers defend the community by law enforcement and peacekeeping. The role requires exceptional judgment, hard work, incredible bravery, and the ability under pressure to think quickly. Knowing what to expect when preparing for work, the Police Academy, and the interview stage will help you get ready for your new law enforcement career.
Getting ready to apply
Comply with essential requirements. Age requirements vary according to jurisdiction. The minimum age for employment in most States and agencies is 21. The minimum age may be lower to 18, 19, or 20 in some states and police departments. The maximum age varies by the police department, however special exemptions may be made for veterans who have served for a minimum of 2 years in the U.S. military forces and have been honorably discharged. You need to check in with the police department you like for the age criteria(If you’ve been dishonorably discharged, your chances of becoming a cop may be affected, so it’s probably best if you don’t mention you were in the military on your resume or during the panel interview, as they might contact your former branch and ask what kind of solider you’ve been).
1. See to it that your record is clear. Police officers are expected to act as role models in their communities, and you may be disqualified from any crimes committed before becoming an officer. Avoid improper use of illicit drugs, drinking alcohol, and associating with criminals. Both of these habits will make things harder when it comes time to apply for a position as a police officer.
- In most jurisdictions, having a felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence, or a conviction for a crime related in any way to race (a hate crime) disqualifies you from being able to pursue a career as a police official.
2. Start credit building fine. If you apply to become a police officer, the agency must administer a credit check as part of your background check, and if your score is poor, you will be penalized. Stop accumulating debt to build up good credit, and pay the bills on time. Have a credit check now so that you know exactly in which financial state you are.
- If you don’t have good credit, then take action to back that up. Even if your credit score is poor, your attempts to get better credit would prove you are a responsible person.
3. Develop a clear history of the job. Getting work experience helps train you for a police officer job’s long hours and stringent criteria, and it also gives you an advantage over candidates with no experience. Your job experience should not be connected to law enforcement, though that will help; any work experience that demonstrates you are competent and willing to do a job well will help.
- Try taking up a job where you need to communicate with the public. Police officers require exceptional communication skills.
- Many government positions, such as work at your local state park, will give you a sense of what working as part of a law enforcement team is like.
- Many opt to join the armed service for a year or two before joining the police department because that would physically and psychologically train them for cop duties. In most states, however, military service doesn’t exclude you from the police academy.
4. Gain physical fitness. Police officers must have quick reflexes, the ability to run long or short distances, and the strength to detain suspects. To qualify to become a police officer, you will have to pass a physical fitness test, so start working out now and make sure you are in the best physical condition. Enter a gym, work with a personal trainer, or just start running to keep yourself in shape every day.
5. If possible go ride-along. Police officers are a common picture of communities and the media, but to truly appreciate what it’s like to be a police officer, you have to spend time with one on the job. Many police forces encourage people to ride with cops, so make the most of the opportunity as much as possible!
- Call the nearest police department to arrange a ride-along.
Meets the Criteria
1. A High School graduate. Additionally, you should pass the General Development in Education (GED) test. Practically all police departments require that their officers have at least a GED or High School Diploma.
2. Take in higher education. Getting a college degree is not a prerequisite for most police departments to get hired, but it can help to have only a few years of education in a related area, particularly if you want to become a detective or hold an administrative role later. For prospective officers, law enforcement, criminal justice, or even pre-law are all successful majors.
- Some agencies provide tuition assistance to degree-pursuing offerings.
3. Choose to attend the Police Academy. If you have a particular department in mind, select the Police Academy for that department. If you are open to moving in the future, it will be fine whatever Police Academy is closest to you or offers the most flexible hours.
- Almost all jurisdictions have Police Academies of their own. Be sure to first consult with yours.
- Academies of police are usually part-time but some may be full-time.
- Tuition is location dependent, but be prepared to spend several thousand USD.
4. Take the screening test at the police academy. Most law enforcement academies require applicants to pass a screening test before they can admit. The test’s exact content depends on the jurisdiction, but expect questions to be asked that reflect on your judgment, professionalism, racial and gender disparities, and other important issues that police officers have to deal with. Some psychological screening tests are required by police academies.
5. Attend the Academy of Police. All future police officers undergo training at the police academy. Major districts of police typically have their academies of policing, while smaller agencies send future police officers to academies in larger cities. Training normally takes about 6 months and involves courses in many fields, including:
- First aid/CPR
- State, federal, and local laws
- Firearm use
- Patrol procedures
- Investigation and report writing
- Criminal law
6. I have passed the exams. To become a police officer, every department has specific tests that you must pass. Examinations are typically performed to assess your expertise in the subjects and skills you have learned at the police academy. Including written examinations, you’ll need to pass a realistic exam that will exam you in a hands-on scenario.
How to find a job as a police officer
1. Look for a job open to the police. Find out if your local Police Department has openings. If there isn’t, you might need to apply for jobs in other cities or towns. When applying for police jobs, consider factors such as location, cost of living, and crime rate.
- Most policing jobs are not advertised publicly. For openings please call your local department.
- Department-specific requirements differ but most of them are long and complex. Be prepared to wait for months to apply for work.
2. Pass screening tests by the department. Many departments have their pre-interview screening tests which are required. Such assessments would possibly concentrate on the ethical and psychological attitudes to topics such as domestic abuse, police brutality, racial inequality, and mental illness.
3. Pass drug tests and background tests. Before the interview even takes place, it is common for departments to administer drug and background tests so be prepared to provide the necessary information with little warning. You may need to provide a sample of the hair or urine, a copy of your credit report, and complete biographical information.
- Be sure to tell the department in advance if there’s any reason you might not pass a test. For example, if you bought a house recently, your credit score may not be correct.
4. Excel in an interview. If an interview is asked of you, do your best! Competition for good department jobs can also be steep. Bring your curriculum vitae, dress professionally, and make it clear that you have the right values and abilities to be a police officer.
- The resume of a police officer should include their education, training at the police academy, work or military history, and any volunteer experience that may be relevant.
- Live assertively. That is a significant attribute to have for a police officer. If in the days leading up to the interview you are feeling nervous, do a practice interview with a friend or family member to help build confidence.
- Be frank. Don’t lie about the crimes you committed in the past or the mistakes you made. Honesty and honesty are paramount in policing.
- Be able to address controversial topics like police brutality.
5. Workouts begin. Acceptance of a job offer is just the first step of being a real officer! Most departments need extensive training before they will allow you to operate independently. To help you learn how to do your job well, attend the necessary training and courses.