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Become a Police Officer

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Do you aspire to become a police officer? Police officers protect the community by enforcing laws and maintaining peace. The job requires excellent judgement, extraordinary courage and the ability to think quickly under pressure.

In addition to earning a high school diploma, police officers receive training at a police academy. Some police officers complete degree programs in law enforcement or criminal justice as well, which can be helpful for career advancement. Police recruits also have to go through a series of examinations that are determined by their academy, which may include physical fitness testing and psychiatric review.

Preferred Characteristics

A police officer career is suited to anyone who thrives on challenges. You must be at least 21 years old and pass competitive written exams in order to become a police officer. Being agile and in good shape is also important, because police officers have to be fast on their feet. Participating in sports and taking physical education classes can prepare you to meet the rigorous physical qualifications of police officer jobs. Developing strong interpersonal skills is also a must since you will have frequent contact with the public.

Education Requirements

Police officer education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree. The minimum requirement is usually a high school diploma, although an increasing number of police departments require applicants to complete at least one or two years of college coursework or have an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for federal police jobs. In urban police departments and federal agencies, knowing how to speak a foreign language is considered a plus.

Relevant Areas of Study

Most aspiring police officers pursue degrees in criminal justice. In criminal justice degree programs, students learn about every aspect of the law and justice system. Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates the study of law, psychology, sociology, public administration, and more. Other relevant majors that students thinking of joining the police force may pursue include police science and political science. Most police departments prefer applicants with a degree, regardless of their major.

Police Academy Training