If you want to become part of your state's law enforcement squad, then you have to start first by joining a police academy. As a new recruit, you will have to go through their application process and complete every requirement before you can become a successful officer. Although this process may vary slightly in each state, this guide will more or less give you the essentials on joining. As you will see, becoming a cop requires more than just being in top physical condition.
- Minimum Requirements First you should check with the law enforcement agency about what the minimum requirements to become a police officer are. Generally, one must be of legal age (18 years old), have a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver's license, and be registered with the Selected Service if you are a male. These are just minimal requirements. There may be other conditions or stipulations that you must meet. And since you will be upholders of the law, a clean criminal record will be a foremost prerequisite.
- Ask Someone If you are still in high school or college, you may want to befriend a police officer in your neighborhood. Ask him about what it is like to be a part of law enforcement. Should you still be interested after learning a little, ask him for advice and tips on how you can enter the academy and pass the test. With their first-hand knowledge, you will learn a lot for sure.
- Get More Education It is advisable that you pursue further education. You may earn a degree that centers on fields that are related and highly involved with a law enforcement career. For instance, you may study forensics, science, technology, sociology, and psychology among many others. This will help you get through the academy and heighten your chances of getting a specialized job once you've graduated, not to mention a higher starting salary and more promotion opportunities.
- Learn Another Language Take time to enroll in foreign language classes in your college. This is highly beneficial, as police officers will have to communicate with others who may not speak English. In the United States, Spanish is one of the top languages. This will give you the edge, especially if you are applying for police departments in California, New York, or Texas.
- Security Jobs While in college, involve and expose yourself to security jobs. This will help you further your experience. It will also give you more contacts and character references that you will need.
- Entrance Exams Know when entrance exams for academies will be conducted. This way you will be prepared and you will not miss those dates. Contact your local police department to get this information.
- Exam Prep Prepare for both written and practical exams. This will gauge your verbal/critical thinking skills and physical fitness, respectively. All of these aptitudes are required in the police force.