The requirements to become a cop are challenging, yet may be achieved by anyone who is willing to put in the hours and effort. Requirements to become a cop vary from one location to the next, but the general details are similar from one community to another. Police officers may fulfill a wide range of roles in society, but they generally work to enforce various laws and to maintain the peace in a community. Beyond earning a high school diploma, the majority of police officers will also need to complete training and degree programs in criminal justice or law enforcement in addition to receiving their training through a police academy.
Specific Requirements to Become a Cop
Perhaps the most basic and essential part of becoming a police officer starts with the graduation from high school. Every police department in the nation requires candidates and officers to possess, at a minimum, a high school diploma or the equivalent educational credit, such as a GED. However, the possession of a high school degree, by itself, will not necessarily be enough for a person to secure employment as an officer of the law.
In fact, although there are some police departments that will hire graduates as soon as they have completed high school, the majority of departments will require candidates and officers to be a minimum of 21 years old in order to allow for additional maturity to occur.
The next step in requirements to become a cop is the completion of college level training. Although this step is not a formal requirement in the sense that every police department will oblige their candidates to possess a bachelor’s level degree in law enforcement, criminal justice, or a closely related discipline, it is a degree that will confer numerous advantages to candidates when they apply in competitive departments.
To work at the state or federal level, college educations are generally required, and officers who possess such degrees will face higher chances of advancing to higher levels within their institutions. There are even police departments that will provide their officers with tuition assistance to help them when they are seeking degrees in fields that the departments can benefit from.
The next step in becoming a police officers is the attendance of a police academy. When police departments become large enough, they will direct potential candidates and recruits to their own self contained police academies so they can complete their training on site. There are smaller departments and precincts that will sometimes send their potential officers to the training academies of larger academies when they do not have the resources to conduct such trainings by themselves.
The average police academy training program will last for 3 to 4 months and will include a range of instruction in the classroom on state and local laws, civil rights, constitutional law, and crime scene investigations. Recruits and trainees will have their experiences supervised and will get to practice in real life situations including emergency and accident responding, patrol, self defense, traffic command, and firearm use. The purpose of such trainign is to prepare potential officers for active duty on the front lines.
Finally, the passing of all applicable examinations and the potential earnings of promotions are the final steps in the process of becoming a police officer. There are a number of exams that candidates may need to pass to indicate their competence in the field. Both physical, written, and at times psychiatric examinations may be conducted, increasing the necessity of being of both sound mind and body when applying to become a cop.
In conclusion, the requirements to become a cop are achievable by most people who have clean police records and who can complete the physical and cognitive requirements of the police training programs in which they enroll. Once a potential candidate has graduated from high school, it will be to his or her benefit to complete college level training and then to attend a police academy in the area where he or she wishes to work. Once he or she takes and passes all applicable examinations, the final and optional step of earning a promotion can help him or her to earn a higher salary than the base level available in the precinct.