Has it always been a dream of yours to serve as a police officer? Does protecting your local community and upholding the law sound like your ideal job role?
Being a police officer is often a calling to some people. And it doesn’t have to be because your family has serving officers. Successful police officers come from all walks of life and experiences.
But how do you go about becoming one? Perhaps you have no idea where to start. Make sure you do your research early to stand you in good stead of making that transition.
In this article, we will explain the 7 key steps to becoming a police officer. Once you take this advice on board, we are sure you’ll be graduating from the police academy with flying colors in no time!
1. Meet the Basic Requirements
First things first, make sure that you are eligible to join the police force. You will need to be over the age of 21 and hold a full driving license.
If you haven’t got your license yet, get driving lessons, and pass your test! You won’t be able to rely on others driving you around to various locations.
You will also need a clean police record before you are accepted by the police academy. If you have any felony or past misdemeanor convictions you won’t be accepted into the force.
DWIs are allowed but only if you have a clean record of five years between now and the offense.
If you are prohibited from carrying firearms for any reason you will not be accepted, as well as prohibited from operating vehicles.
You will also need to pass a psychological examination to check whether you are mentally prepared to become a police officer.
2. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Become a Police Officer
This is a really important step when thinking about your chosen career path. What has led you to this point?
Is there a particular moment or memory you have that has shaped your decision in wanting to be a law enforcement officer? Perhaps you have always wanted to wear the uniform with the hat and the custom challenge coins.
Maybe you have a keen sense of morality and a duty to protect and uphold the law. Make sure you are choosing this career for the right reasons.
It can be a tough and grueling job, but ultimately it is about helping people and keeping their streets safe.
3. Get Your Fitness Levels Up
You can’t expect to become a police officer without being in the prime of physical health!
There may be situations where you will need to pursue suspects on foot, you can’t do that if you aren’t regularly exercising.
The police fitness test is notoriously difficult, so if you aren’t in good shape, you better start working out.
The exact parameters of the test differ from state to state and have different requirements for different genders. However, it is going to be no walk in the park wherever you are!
You make be expected to run or swim for long periods of time as well as weights and core exercises.
Certain characteristics such as deafness, blindness, and obesity may disqualify you but this is decided on a case by case basis.
4. Improve Your Knowledge of Technology
The way in which the police use technology has significantly changed over the past twenty years.
Most police officers will need to know their way around a basic database system in order to log crimes and incidents as they happen. This will also include traffic stops and running of car licenses.
You don’t need to be Bill Gates to be a police officer but a decent grasp of technology and computers will be a benefit.
5. Check Whether You Need College Credits
This is something that will vary from state to state but some police academy will require a level of college credits (usually 60) for you to join a force and become a police officer.
Don’t be despondent if this applies to you. Life experience and additional study can be really beneficial to making a well rounded and knowledgable police officer.
You can even specialize in credits that will be applicable to a police officer role such as criminology, law, or psychology.
This extra education will be invaluable to you later on in your career if you move into more policy or desk-related roles.
6. Prepare for Your Entrance Exam
Once you have filled in all your proof of identification and documentation, you will need to pass your police academy entrance exam.
This might seem intimidating if you aren’t a fan of exams. However, it is usually an assortment of problem-solving and reasoning questions, maths, and perhaps an essay portion. Your spelling and grammar might be graded as well.
Take some time to appropriately prepare for the exam. Focus on your weaker attributes and get them up to scratch.
7. Complete Your Police Academy Training
Once you have gotten on the course, this isn’t an excuse to slack off. Police academy training is a 12-14 week intensive course that will put you to the test.
It will involve firearm and self-defense training, as well as law and civil rights lecturers.
It will encompass all elements of what it means to be a police officer, from the theories to the minutiae of traffic stops and control.
Police academy training is a crash course in some of the challenges you will face in your daily life. Make sure that you put everything into learning how best to navigate these challenges.
Steps to Becoming a Police Officer: Where Can I Find Out More?
We hope you have gotten a lot of decent information from this article with the key steps to becoming a police officer.
Once you have made that all-important decision, you need to ensure you have considered all the hard work you will need to do to be a successful police officer.
It is a hard but incredibly important job for anyone. If you have any further interests in topics such as these, why not check out our other blog posts?