What is the Minimum Age to Become a Police Officer?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Many different countries have a minimum age to become a police officer, and that age can depend upon the agency that is hiring and the location of the agency. Some peace officer organizations also impose a maximum hiring age, but this can be challenged if the person is physically fit and he/she has held other civil service or government jobs. For instance, people who were formerly in a country’s military service may be able to override maximum age requirements.

Some states allow people to become police officers by age 20.
Some states allow people to become police officers by age 20.

In the US, the minimum age to become a police officer in a lot of states is 20. Jobs with state or federal peace keeping and investigatory agencies usually require people to be 21. Meeting the minimum age requirement is not difficult since many people will need to complete at minimum a couple of years of college prior to getting hired by a peace keeping agency. Though some departments will hire people who have a high school diploma or the equivalent, applicants with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (AA or BA) may be preferred. Numerous state and federal agencies require a bachelor’s degree, and most people don’t receive these until they are at least 21.

Police officers typically receive training on how to handle and fire hand guns.
Police officers typically receive training on how to handle and fire hand guns.

Maximum age requirements in the US can vary by agency and location. Sometimes the maximum is the age of 65 and others times it is less than 40. Since getting a job can be competitive, people who are older may be less preferred. However things like fitness and previous work can matter too.

Most police officer jobs in the UK set the minimum age to become a police officer at 18. Candidates may be accepted into training programs when they’re half a year younger than this. Those who have higher degrees can be preferred over candidates who have simply completed high school. UK police programs may vary in maximum age they set, and some do not specify an age maximum.

Canada also sets the minimum age to become a police officer at 18. Yet again, there may be certain advantages to pursuing more advanced degrees than a high school diploma, prior to applying. Some agencies do require extra training or will look with more favor upon those who have bachelor’s or associate's degrees in fields like criminal justice.

Numerous countries and states, as well as the many agencies that may maintain a police force, all have different age requirements. The best way to determine at what age a person can become a police officer and whether any maximum or minimum age standards are in place is to talk with the local police force or with an accredited school that offers police academy training. Age is just one of the numerous requirements that people may need to fulfill in order to train and find employment in this field, and it’s a good idea to make sure that a person meets all standards for employment prior to investing time in training.

Numerous countries and states have different age requirements for becoming a police officer.
Numerous countries and states have different age requirements for becoming a police officer.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Bhutan- I think that the law enforcement training for US Marshalls and the Secret Service are top notch too.

U.S. Marshalls are part of the executive branch and protect court officers along with apprehending fugitives that are at large.

The Secret Service is a law enforcement agency that protects heads of state, like the President, Vice President and other dignitaries that visit the United States.

They also investigate high level financial crimes in addition to their security detail.


SurfNturf- You know that law enforcement careers also include work for the F.B.I., US Marshals, and the Secret Service.

In fact, the F.B.I. offers internships for criminology majors at its facility in Quantico, Virginia. These internships are very competitive as work there may lead to a full time position upon graduation.

Many F.B.I. agents investigate federal crimes involving kidnapping, fraud, and money laundering activities.


BrickBack-I totally agree with you. It sounds like an exciting career, but I certainly don’t think I could do it.

I had a friend that went on to become a probation officer. He had to go through a complete criminal background check when he applied.

He also had to pass an exam and have at least a bachelor’s degree in criminology or social work and an additional two years of counseling experience.

They said that if he had had a master’s degree they would have waived the counseling experience. He told me that experience working as a drug counselor helped him tremendously to get this job.

Probation officers usually work with criminal offenders and many work exclusively with juvenile offenders.


Cupcake15- I can answer that for you. First, the police officer should have at least three to four years of successful law enforcement experience.

Experience in the military is helpful, but unnecessary. The training is grueling because these special law enforcement agents are supposed to be the best of the best.

They often have to handle hostage and many drug related situations in which they have to use a high level of force to break into a home or building. They are trained to use advanced weaponry and handle virtually every crisis situation imaginable. They also tested to make sure that their skills are current.

For example, they are given a shooting test in which they have to hit the target that is about one inch in length with a single bullet from about seven to eight feet away.

If they miss then they go on probation. The members of SWAT also have to be on call 24 hours a day in case there is an emergency. It is an exciting career but not for the faint at heart.


There are many law enforcement jobs available. Some decide to become law enforcement officers and go on to the police academy in order to become police officers.

After extensive fitness training along with weapons and investigative courses, the successful graduate gets placed in a district to serve.

Some of these police officers go on to become state troopers or investigative detectives. I love the field of law enforcement. I always wondered how does someone become a SWAT officer?

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