Being involved in law enforcement is an admirable career. You can really make a difference by serving a community or city. Unfortunately, police are getting a bad wrap right now but that’s why now more than ever, this country needs upstanding police officers that are still willing to do the right thing. Some of the great things about this career are that it pays quite well and there are great opportunities to grow and advance. Even better- you don’t have to have formal higher education in order to become a police officer. A high school diploma is usually all that is required. However, it’s more than just knowing about police footwear and guns. Here are the steps that must be completed in order to become a police officer.
- Get Your High School Diploma
This is the minimum requirement to be a police officer. It could either be your diploma or it could be a GED. While some law enforcement organizations do look for applicants that have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, there are many facilities that will work with a high school education. So, the first step if you never graduated high school is to enroll yourself in to some GED classes so that you can begin to study and work towards getting your GED.
- Meet Minimum Requirements
There are other various minimum requirements besides having a GED or high school diploma. This doesn’t mean knowing about police footwear or comfortable tactical boots. Those things will come in time. You will need to be a US citizen, be able to show a valid driver’s license and be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the department, police and the state. You’ll also need to have a clean criminal record although if your offenses were extremely minor, that may be overlooked. If you have a felony you will be completely disqualified from working in the profession of law enforcement.
- Obtain Possible Further Education
While getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is not always a requirement, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, then you should get a degree in criminal law or criminal justice. If you are trying to apply at a federal level then you’ll definitely need to get a college degree. The FBI, US Fish and Wildlife Service, CIA and other federally backed organizations won’t even look at your application if there is not a higher education section on it.
- Pass the Entrance Exam
Before you get into the policy academy, you’ll have to pass the entrance exam. Some of the tests that you’ll have to take will include Asset, Compass and Law Enforcement Examinations but the exact exam will depend on the academy and jurisdiction that you are applying for. If you do not pass on the first try, you will be allowed to try one more time but after that, you’ll will have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass before taking the exam again. If you plan to try again, you should use this time to study up and be more prepared than you were the first time around.
- Graduate from the Academy
Once you are in the academy, you will start getting the most important training that will help you in your job as a police officer. The academy is usually around six months and covers everything from the reason for police footwear and uniform to search and seizure, traffic laws, firearms safety and training, physical conditioning, criminal statutes and driving training. Once you complete the academy, you’ll be a fully fledged ‘rookie’ which is another word for newcomer.
Becoming a police officer is not something that you should take lightly. You need to be able to uphold the title and be a force that people look to in times of trouble. It’s an incredibly competitive field, a lot of people apply every month and your reasons for wanting to be apart should extend past being able to wear the cool police footwear, badge and being able to carry a gun. There is a certain kind of heart that is required to protect and serve and it’s not easy to get there so get on some comfortable boots- you’re in for a ride.