As a new student, you should know that police academy attendance for criminal justice majors isn’t required for all jobs. Whether you look for a job right after graduation or decide to attend graduate school, you do not need to attend the academy to work as a professor, specialist, crime scene examiner or in other fields. Most areas don’t require that you attend the academy to work as a police officer either, but there are some benefits associated with this type of training.
What is the Police Academy?
The police academy refers to a specialized type of training open to those hoping to enter the law enforcement field. Often available through junior and community colleges, the schools provide both classroom instruction and practical knowledge through field work. You typically spend time taking physical fitness tests similar to those required by police departments and time in the classroom. Most academies require that students live at the school during their training, but some schools offer weekend instruction for those with full-time jobs.
What are the Requirements for Attending the Academy?
Though police academy attendance for criminal justice majors isn’t required for all jobs, you will want to ensure that you meet any requirements before applying for a position. All academies require that you have a high school diploma or a GED, are a citizen of the United States and pass a physical fitness test that screens you for any potential medical, vision or hearing problems. Many academies also have an age requirement in place. You must be at least 20 years old before entering the academy and no older than 35 when you graduate.
Do You Have to Attend the Academy?
Attendance in the police academy is absolutely not mandatory for most criminal justice jobs. Social workers, substance abuse counselors and those who work with the elderly need only a college degree and some additional training, and other fields, including crime scene examination and forensic science, require a graduate or PhD degree. Even city and state law enforcement departments don’t require police academy attendance for criminal justice majors. Applicants have the option of skipping the academy in lieu of on the job training. Instead of applying to the academy, you can apply for an open position within the department and go through its own training program.
Benefits for Police Academy Students
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officer training includes regional academies, state academies, and department academies. If you want to work as a police officer, corrections officer or another type of peace officer, there are a few reasons why you might attend a police academy. Graduating from one of those training programs shows that you are physically fit and can handle the job, but it also shows that you have a dedication to your future career. Most department agencies grant students full-time employment immediately after graduation, while those who graduate from a regional or state agency go on a waiting list until jobs become available.
Law enforcement is not the only career path open to criminal justice students. Regardless of your dream job, many positions no longer require police academy attendance for criminal justice majors, but some students find the training helpful.