A Call to Service

A Call to Service

Are you looking for a noble and rewarding career? Perhaps you may want to consider law enforcement as an option. Law enforcement officers typically work full-time and carry big responsibilities on a daily basis.

What are the Skills and Basic Requirements?

Several recruiting agencies for police officers seek individuals who exhibit these types of characteristics:

  • Compassion
  • Good judgement
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Ability to multitask
  • Resourceful
  • Ability to show initiative
  • Assertive
  • Ability to collaborate in a team

Having US citizenship with a valid driver’s license and being 21-years-old by the time of academy graduation are other basic requirements, however, age requirements may vary. A candidate who wants to become an officer may also be required to earn a high school diploma or GED.* Sociology, psychology, and social work are a few subjects that are generally suited for law enforcement jobs. A fitness test is typically required prior to employment.

Several states have a Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) or similar organizations that establish minimum selection standards for law enforcement officers. The basic requirements generally remain the same but can vary from state to state.

What Does the Hiring Process Entail?*

A basic application and pre-screening questionnaire may be required to fill out, that is generally used to showcase the applicant’s interest and eligibility. After reviewing the application, candidates may be invited back to take a written exam. Candidates may then go through a video examination, where candidates are shown a situation and asked to provide a verbal response on how they would handle the situation. Some agencies may also use video simulations in order to assess interpersonal skills and judgment.  As already mentioned, candidates are generally asked to take part in a physical ability test to measure their overall level of fitness.

Candidates should typically be ready for a thorough background check and drug test to ensure reliability. An applicant may undergo a psychological screening to determine the stability of their mental health. In general, this is an important step because police offers typically need to think on their feet and be able to make the best decisions while under pressure. A polygraph test may also be implemented to verify certain information.

What Happens After the Hiring Process?

In general, receiving an offer letter does not guarantee a badge, uniform, and police car. Before he or she receives these items, they typically undergo rigorous police academy and field training programs. Several states require candidates to complete an in-house training program after successfully completing their hiring process. Some candidates may be sponsored to attend an academy elsewhere. Academy certificates may be acceptable but candidates are generally required to complete an abbreviated version of training at the police station they are hired at. Initial stages of the training will be typically be classroom based, supplemented by practical exercises and scenarios. At this stage, candidates will generally hold the rank of a ‘cadet’ or ‘police trainee.’

Those who are interested in becoming a police officer are typically advised to review their state’s Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training. This may allow the candidate to get an idea of the state’s training requirements. The average duration of training for new recruits, excluding field training, may last up to six months.

Salaries for police officers depend on the state they serve in and their officer rank, such as a sergeant or lieutenant position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for police officers in 2010 was $55,010 per year. By 2020, positions for police officers are expected to grow by seven percent.***

Entering law enforcement is a noble profession. If you are passionate about helping people and keeping the community safe, perhaps you may want to consider becoming a police officer.


Interested in becoming a police officer? Get more information about programs in your area or online using our criminal justice degree finder at the top of this page.↑


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** http://discoverpolicing.org/what_does_take/?fa=training_academy_life