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How Do I Become a Police Officer?

The journey to become a police officer can vary greatly between different jurisdictions. It is important to research the county or state where one wishes to become a police officer first. This is quickest way to find a list of physical, educational and skill-related requirements.

Research
Hiring requirements vary between different police departments. In addition, police officer salary ranges can also differ. Getting some background information first is a great way to get an idea about future job requirements and salary ranges. Some police departments require a high school diploma or equivalent. Higher paying departments in larger cities often require at least some college education. Knowing what one needs in order to get hired can save a candidate a lot of time and money.

Education
Many police departments require candidates to have at least some college coursework completed. There are a lot of departments that are now requiring four-year degrees. It rarely matters what a candidate studied in college. A background in criminology or criminal justice does look nice on an application though. Students who study criminology are going to have a great foundation for their future careers. They will often study corrections, police science and criminal law. Majoring in criminology and criminal justice is a great idea for anybody who is considering a career in law enforcement.

Physical Requirements
Police training is typically pretty rigorous. Police candidates often have to pass minimum physical requirements to even be considered for the academy. Requirements also vary by each different department, state or precinct. The requirements typically include running, push-ups and sit-ups. Police departments are paramilitary in nature, so they have a similar style of physical training. If a candidate is out of shape, he or she may run the risk of failing their police academy class. Preparing one’s body for a tough training schedule is so important. It is a good idea to ask about physical requirements when conducting the initial research. In addition to education requirements, many police departments are happy to share information about the physical demands of the career.

Police Academy
Some police departments have individualized training courses. Many police academies are state-run. The length of time also varies between jurisdictions. The paramilitary atmosphere of a police academy makes this high-pressure training incredibly intense. There are typically three different parts to police training.

1. Physical Training
2. Tactical Training
3. Classroom Instruction

Physical training is often the most difficult part for most candidates. Candidates may be asked to run long distances on a daily basis.

Tactical training will consist of a wide variety of drills and exercises. Students will become proficient in firing weapons, and handling unruly suspects. In addition, students are typically trained to use pepper spray and stun guns.

Instruction in the classroom often deals with legal and administrative training procedures.

Ultimately, old-fashioned research is the first step in learning how to become a police officer. A bit of preparation can make the transition to this demanding career a little bit easier.

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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