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What are the Requirements to Become a Police Officer?

Police officer training involves firearms training.
Police officers must be able to drive automobiles for long hours.
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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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Police officers are responsible for maintaining peace and order. They are the first line of defense in our communities, protecting the general public from any threats. Before becoming police officers, candidates must meet several different requirements.

There are many requirements to become a police officer. One of the most important is education. Although some police departments only require a high school degree or equivalent, many departments now require some college education. Criminal justice programs can vary from certificate programs all the way through a PhD in police science. Most police officers at least receive a two year associate’s degree. A degree in criminal justice will help potential police officers prepare for a career.

Before they can become police officers, new hires usually are required to attend a training academy. Police academies will teach recruits law, accident investigation, and civil rights. They will also be trained in patrolling, traffic control, emergency response, use of firearms first aid, and self-defense. Physical training is another part of most police academies.

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Police officers must be United States citizens. Most departments require applicants to be at least twenty years old. There are many other requirements to become a police officer. Candidates must be able to meet intense physical prerequisites, showing speed, strength and agility. Police officers must also pass hearing, vision, and drug tests, as well as an intense written examination. New recruits will be given a personality test or interview by a psychologist. They will also be interviewed by a senior officer. A background check is also required.

The requirements to become a police officer are meant to weed out applicants who may not be good matches for the job. A previous criminal record, depending on the charges, may disqualify some people, especially in areas where there are few openings and many applicants. There are no height requirements for police officers, as long as they are able to perform the work required of them. Candidates with previous experience, such as a prison guard, military police, or similar position, may have an easier time getting a position as a police officer.

Due to the severe shortage of police officers in many areas, some departments are becoming less strict about some of the requirements to become a police officer. Some previous criminal acts may be overlooked if an applicant is otherwise qualified. Less previous education may also be accepted. However, in order to move up in rank, or to move to a larger agency, police officers may be required to complete education requirements later on.

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Discuss this Article

anon330290
Post 22

This is a bizarre question. Could someone please tell me if there are any specific rules restricting someone missing their right hand from becoming an officer?

I'm ridiculously good at doing anything I need to, so unless there's a specific restriction then I might be able to go through with this.

anon291463
Post 19

Can you still become a police officer if you don't take the ACT? I really need to know this answer.

anon176881
Post 17

is the criminal justice course a requirement?

anon170788
Post 16

I'm a girl and I'm currently in school on my way to getting my A.A in criminal justice. i want to be a police officer. I'm now in my first year, but I'm taking a lot of classes to get it out of the way faster. I can't wait.

anon150007
Post 14

I am going to school for Criminal Justice and I will have my Associates in July 2011 and wondered what the Maximum age is to be eligible for becoming a Police Officer in Indiana. I want to be a CSI agent when I receive my Bachelor's in 2014 as well.

anon147529
Post 13

Is it true that if you've smoked weed at all in your life, you are not able to become a cop?

anon146529
Post 12

What are the legal requirements to be a police officer?

anon142596
Post 11

i am attending school for a ba degree in criminal justice but I am changing my major. I heard i couldn't be a cop because I am a felon, battery with weapon. Well, I am out.

anon138650
Post 10

how did you go to college without a high school diploma or an equivalent?

anon113355
Post 8

I'm 19 and I really want to become a police officer. I already have my high school diploma, but I just have to wait until I'm 21.

anon106325
Post 7

this is danish from hyderabad. i want to become a police officer because i want to help everyone. i want to stop crime, etc. Please give me suggestions. i am b.com 2nd year student.

anon78582
Post 3

i would love to be a police officer but i don't have a high school diploma or a ged but i went to college for eight months to be a medical assistant. can anyone help me out? maybe i can train for a police officer and at the same time get my ged and of course don't have the money for the school.

anon74316
Post 1

good info.

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