Police officers are essential to a safe society, but the job can be dangerous and stressful. These men and women are often extremely dedicated individuals who have a strong sense of duty. Becoming a police officer is not always easy, but is a goal that can be accomplished with some hard work and careful planning.
- Get a high school education. You will need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
- Get some higher education. Although usually not required, getting an associate's degree (2-year degree) or a bachelor's degree (4-year degree) is recommended and can help you out in the competitive application process when becoming a cop. Criminal justice courses are especially helpful.
- Maintain physical fitness. Playing organized sports can help you keep in shape, as well as look good on your application to a police academy. Physical fitness is key for anyone interested in going into law enforcement, as you will have to pass a series of physical tests.
- Act responsibly. If you want to become a police officer, you cannot be a convicted felon. Candidates have background checks run on them, and even if there are no felonies on your record, other things can be a red flag. Drug violations look especially bad, but too many traffic violations or other indiscretions may reflect poorly on you.
- Take the civil service examination. This exam is usually given through the police department that you apply to. There are study guides and classes available.
- Prepare to take more tests. Depending upon the specific police department, an applicant could need to take various tests. Common tests are written, physical, hearing and vision, drug, personality, and lie detector tests.
- Attend a police academy. If your application is successful, you will attend a police academy, usually for about 3-4 months. The training includes classroom instruction, physical training, on-the-job situational training, safe use of firearms, self-defense, and first aid. You must meet the police academy requirements to become an officer.
- Pursue continuing education. Police officers often attend workshops and seminars throughout their careers in order to deal with changing needs and cultures in a society.
Although becoming a police officer can be challenging, the process will prepare you for the rigors of enforcement work. If this career appeals to you, then sign up for online courses in criminal justice now - your community can almost certainly use another dedicated law enforcement officer!