Being a police officer is a tough and stressful job because you have to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit to be able to handle the big responsibility of protecting and serving the community. As a matter of fact, the job of a police officer is 24/7. You are a law enforcement officer any time of the day, in any places that you go. Before you decide to pursue a career in the police force, it is important to know the various requirements to be a police officer.
1. Age. You must be at least 21 years old. Some states may require an applicant to have a valid driver’s license to be admitted. They also need to undergo and pass the required drug and lie detector tests, as well.
2. Education. The educational requirement for one to be a police officer range from having a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. Although in most cases, a high school diploma would suffice, most police departments these days require that an applicant should have at least finished a two year course to be accepted.
If you are planning to apply for a federal police position, the minimum educational requirement would be a bachelor’s degree. Most police applicants pursue a degree in criminal justice wherein the students learn everything about the law, interrelated courses in psychology, sociology and political science.
A prospective police officer needs to attend the Police Academy program to be trained and educated. The 3-4 month training is a combination of theoretical and practical training inclusive of law and enforcement procedures, orientation on basic rights and other necessary skills in facing real life situations.
3. Citizenship. You must be a U.S. Citizen if you aspire to be a police officer. In the event of a non U.S. Citizen applicant, the State requires you to be a permanent resident alien, in compliance with the eligibility requirements set by the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).
4. Good Moral Background. Applicants should go through an evaluation set by the department. This is to ensure that those they hire are ethical, law-abiding and moral citizens. Any background reflecting records of domestic violence, physical altercations, or discourteous, abusive, or violent treatment towards others and moral turpitude will automatically boot you out of the selection process.
5. Physical and Mental Requirement. Applicants should be physically fit. Passing the civil service exam is one thing, but making it through the various physical examinations is another story. You have to go through and pass the physical tests of strength, vision, agility and mental alertness. Other than this, every applicant is required to go through a neuro testing which will determine his psychological competence for the job.
Police Officer Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for the police officer is expected to increase 7% between 2010 to 2020. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job opportunities for regular police officers are vast, while the federal positions are quite competitive. Note however, that any applicant who is bilingual and have relevant training in college will be given higher priorities. The annual average income of a police officer is $54,000.
Being a police officer is more than just the badge or the action. Being of service to the community is your number one duty. You should be prepared to risk your life when necessary, to protect and make your community a better place to live in.
After knowing the requirements to be a police officer, are you ready to become one today?