How To
Become a
Police Officer.

Thinking about becoming a police officer in the United States!?

Below, we’ve put together all the details you need to know – starting with the roles and duties of a law enforcement officer, before moving onto what you can expect to earn; and what formal application process you need follow.

Becoming a police officer is not easy. As of 2021, competition for places within the academy is very high. To make it, you need to stand out, score high and perform consistently well. That requires long-term, strategic preparation.

Roles of a Police Officer.

Police officers are an important part of the community; law enforcement officers that keep the peace and professionals who are
sworn to serve the communities in which they live.

The functions of a
police officer include:

  • Enforcing local, state and federal laws
  • Obtaining warrants
  • Interviewing suspects and keeping accurate reports
  • Securing crime scenes and aiding the investigative process
  • Testifying in court
  • Responding to emergency situations

Roles evolve as police officers ascend the ranks. For instance, a long-serving officer may be deployed to investigate serious crimes, such as murder. Others may be involved in SWAT teams or working with a K-9 unit in situations that involve drugs or serious weapons.

What do police officers earn?

Earning potential remains high. As of 2021, there is significant demand for law
enforcement officers. Salary depends, of course, on factors such as experience,
training and skills.

Some parts of the United States pay more than others, but that is often due to higher costs of
living in those states and cities.

Here are some recent salary statistics on 5 US states:

State 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
California $53,320 $8,460 $109,110
New York $37,030 $60,620 $87,600
Texas $32,110 $49,730 $69,250
Illinois $35,450 $69,900 $93,680

How to Become a
Police Officer.

Of course, to become a police officer you must be a US citizen. That is the most basic requirements.
That aside, here is the standard 6-step process you must follow to become a qualified police officer in the
United States.

Step One

Meet Minimum Education Requirements.

Candidates are expected to have a high-school diploma or a General Education Diploma (GED). Depending on the police department, some prefer candidates have a bachelor’s degree or other education credits.

Step Two

Satisfy Minimum Standards.

These include having a valid and safely maintained US driver’s license; to meet the minimum age standard as set out by individual departments – which is often 21 years old; and to ensure that candidates have a clean criminal record. Some departments forego small misdemeanors but will not forego felony crimes.

Step Three

Possessing a Bachelor’s Degree.

This isn’t always necessary, but to evolve into more senior positions that involve great responsibility, many police departments expect candidates to hold a bachelor’s agree. Again, this demand is optional but often necessary for more senior roles.

Step Four

Pass the
Police Test.

Passing the police test is a must to enter the police academy. It consists of a written exam, fitness test, interview process and psychological and medical evaluation. Long-term police test preparation is essential to maximize your result and move on to advance in the application process.

Step Five

Succeed at the Police Academy.

Once you have passed the police test, you must complete police academy training which lasts 6 months. This training prepares you to become an effective law enforcement officer in your local community. You will study criminal statutes, firearms preparation, traffic legislation, search and seize, driving skills and physical conditioning.

Step Six

Advance within
the Profession.

Advancement as a police officer comes with an enhanced salary, but also with significantly intense responsibility. Competition is tough. You must display the relevant physical, mental and knowledge-based competencies and skills, whilst also scoring high on performance reviews.

The Skills that Make a
Police Officer.

To be a successful police officer in the United States, you must
demonstrate and following skills:

Exceptional judgement
Physical toughness
Mental readiness
Analytical integrity
Leadership skills
Willingness to endure

What You Can Expect.

As a law enforcement officer, you will be expected to use a wide variety of tools and kit – all
of which play an important role in how duties are performed.

Body armor
Radar speed detectors
Police car
Surveillance technology

Becoming a police officer is a life-changing experience; an exciting yet highly responsible career
course that transforms how your local community is managed. Here, we’ve shown how to become a
police officer. Now, you must take the police test!

I want to become a
police officer!