Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Police Officer?

Do you need a college degree to become a police officer, or can you become a police officer with a high school diploma? These are some of the questions that trouble many people who want to join the police force. The answer is you don’t necessarily need a college degree to work as a police officer. However, a college degree will improve your employment prospects and increase your chances of qualifying for advanced job positions in the police force. So, what exactly do you need to become a police officer?

You Need a High School Diploma or GED

The minimum academic requirement for joining the police force in all states is a high school diploma or GED. Make sure you perform well in all your subjects to increase your chances of being admitted. You must also have at least four credits in English and social studies, three credits in mathematics and science, one credit in art and seven credits in electives.

You Need to Pass Background Checks and Physical Exams

In order to qualify for a position as a police officer, you must pass the background check. This check is very important, as it ensures that you have the moral strength and the aptitude to possess a gun and a police badge. The recruiting officers may obtain transcripts from your school and interview your teachers and professors to find out more about your study habits and demeanor. They will reach out to your friends and family and look at your criminal records to ensure you don’t hide anything.

In addition to background checks, you need to pass a physical examination. Here, the recruitment officers will check to see if you have a good sense of hearing and sight and verify your level of strength, dexterity, stamina and overall agility. Some states may require you to pass a psychiatric evaluation.

Enroll in Police Academy

You need to go through a police academy to join the police force. Every state has its own requirements, meaning those who are trained in other states must take additional courses to meet specific requirements. Before you get an admission to the academy, you will be required to pass an entrance exam. You will sit for tests such as Compass, Asset and Law Enforcement Examination (LEE). Police academies last for six months and cover topics such as traffic laws, criminal statutes, search and seizure, driver training and firearms training.

Understand the Desired Traits of a Police Officer

All police departments want to hire individuals who are honest and will not violate the ethical rules put in place. They also require individuals who are smart enough, hardworking and able to think independently and take charge of volatile situations. Other traits include commitment, agility, impact and patience.

Police Officer Salary and Job Growth

Police officers make between $32,017 and $87,049 per year, according to PayScale. Their salary depends on experience, training, specialties and skills. The demand for police officers will remain relatively steady for the many years to come.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Criminal Profiler?

Police officers play a critical role in any society. They maintain peace and stability and ensure no one is violating the rights of another. Unlike a majority of professions, you don’t need a college degree to become a police officer.