How to Become a K9 Officer

How to Become a K9 Officer

Working with K9s is one of the most rewarding career paths that a law enforcement officer may take. While this career is rewarding, an officer may need to be trained with how to deal with their companions so that they may quickly and easily assess the situation. Oftentimes, these animals are used for one thing – their immense sense of smell. Aiding a search is the job of the K9 Officer and the dog that they are in control of during their duties*.

Educational Requirements

Aside from K9 specific training, a K9 officer may be required to obtain the same training as that of a normal law enforcement officer. This training will require**:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of law enforcement academy
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be 21 years of age or older

There is also on-the-job training that may need to be conducted so that the officer is able to fulfill their duties in an adequate manner. Special training may have to commence before an officer is able to be classified as a K9 Officer.

Work Environment

Officers may have to work in a very stressful environment as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Injuries and illness are common for those that work in the field. K9 Officers are normally less stressed than their counterparts and are seen in airports, on drug raids or even sniffing out bombs. A K9 Officer is a very useful part of any raid that may take place because of illegal activity.

Salary and Career Outlook

The median income of officers in 2012 was $56,980. This includes a plethora of benefits and retirement options as well. As far as growth is concerned, the field has a 5 percent job growth outlook going into 2022. This is slower than average and will only add 41,000 jobs to the field. What does this mean for prospective officers? This means that entering into the force may be much harder than in the past**.

Training and certification to be a dog handler may need to be sought once entry into the law enforcement field is permitted. Once an officer has obtained these credentials, they may be able to bring them with them anywhere in the country. A K9 Officer may learn how to care for their companion, how to teach their animal to detect narcotics, bodies and various other scents that are simply not picked up without the help of a canine*.



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