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What is a Police Officer?

Of all the potential career choices, a police officer is among the most widely chosen. Before embarking on this journey, it is important to know everything there is to know about how to become a cop. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before one can pursue this line of work. The career path for a police officer can go in several directions. But every direction starts with the steps on how to become a police officer. 

How to Become a Police Officer

These are the steps illustrating how to become a police officer. These steps should be completed in order. 

1. Before anything else, any potential candidate must submit to a background check. When doing so, it is crucial to disclose anything that might be found that could raise questions. Failure to do so usually means that someone is no longer considered a candidate for a police officer career path. This especially includes any gross misdemeanors or felonies. In some cases, even a standard misdemeanor is enough to destroy someone’s chances of pursuing this line of work.

2. Police officer qualifications vary from one state to the next.  Some require an associate’s degree while others do not. Another possible option is attending a government-approved training program. Enrolling in a police academy teaches all the basics that help answer the question, “how do you become a cop.”

3. Among relevant becoming a police officer requirements is passing the POST exam. No one is considered a licensed cop until they have passed this test. This must be accomplished before applying to work with a specific police department. It falls in line with becoming a police officer requirements. In addition, it helps answer the question what do you have to do to become a cop.

These are the steps to keep in mind when questioning how long does it take to become a police officer.

Meeting Minimum Requirements

There are some general becoming a police officer requirements that everyone must meet in order to be eligible. This includes police officer qualifications such as the fact that to be a cop one has to be a registered citizen of the United States. Other requirements include being healthy and physically, as well as mentally, fit. Anyone interested in how to become a cop should have a regular exercise routine that involves cardio, flexibility and strength training. It is just as important to maintain an exercise routine for the duration of one’s career, for not only physical reasons but for mental reasons as well. Police officer qualifications also include passing a psychological assessment. This is part of how to become a police officer. 

When it comes to what do you have to do to become a cop, part of the answer is to prove mental stability. The psychological assessment of a candidate for police officer determines if they can handle the stress of the job. It tests their ability to stay calm and not let stress overwhelm them. The assessment has a verbal section and a written section which is used to find out more about a job candidate’s suitability for the position. 

Aside from these factors, one must hold both a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license in order to qualify.

Last but not least, a candidate must meet the minimum age requirement in their state, which is generally anywhere between 18 and 21. The career path for a police officer will not start before his or her qualifying birthday. 

Sustaining The Police Officer Career Path

Steps for becoming a police officer don’t end after one’s initial training has been completed. Training never fully stops during the career path of a police officer. Throughout one’s career, it is necessary to keep training. Federal regulations require ongoing training for an officer to remain licensed. There are Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers that regularly run courses. Some examples of the types of courses these would be, include

  • Digital Photography
  • Active Shooting Response
  • International Banking & Money Laundering

Ongoing education is a significant part of the police officer career path. It greatly enhances the career outlook for police officers.  Sustainability is part of the steps for becoming a police officer in today’s world. 

Benefits Of The Career Path Of A Police Officer

The career path for a police officer does not have to be a long one. It is the ideal career for anyone who wants to retire at a younger age than most people. In the majority of the U.S. police officers are able to retire after serving 20 years. For those who start at a young age, this may be the ideal career. And in the meantime, the career outlook for police officers is generally positive. With a constant demand for qualified police officers, income is steady and job security is solid. For this reason, many people have looked into the question of how do you become a cop. 

Types of Police Officers

Another benefit of the career path for a police officer is that there are several types to choose from. In addition to working as a uniformed officer, one can become a detective, highway patrol, sheriff, or crime scene investigator. Detail-oriented individuals tend to excel as detectives, as the position involves meticulous record-keeping and gathering of evidence. Highway patrol officers work alongside state police. Lastly, the crime scene investigator is a career in which regularly testifying in court is part of the job description. With so many choices, the career outlook for police officers is bright. This is why so many people ask how to become a cop. 

The question how long does it take to become a police officer is partly dependent on one’s ultimate goal. The steps on how to become a police officer are only the same to a point. What do you have to do to become a cop is different for the highway patrol than it is for a crime scene investigator. When it comes to how do you become a cop, the most general answer is by working hard. 

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Criminaljusticedegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.