You do not need any special kind of education to become a police officer. All you need is a high school degree. However, if you want to specialize in a certain field, then you might have to go for some higher education. This might entail studies of the scientific nature to pursue specializations like forensics or cyber crime. A bachelor’s degree is required if you are trying to apply at an institution like the FBI or the CIA.
As an aspiring officer, you will need to meet a few basic requirements to be a police officer. You will need to be about 18-21 years of age depending on the department you are applying to. On top of that, you cannot have any prior criminal records. Sometimes, exceptions are made to this rule but only if the offenses were minor in nature. Convicted felons cannot apply.
After you complete the above steps you will need to apply to become a law enforcement officer. There are several processes involved after you apply. Let us look at some of them.
- Entrance examination – The first step is to pass the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE) and get selected for the following steps. Obviously, if you don’t meet any of the previous requirements you aren’t eligible to even sit for the exam.
- Physical Fitness – Physical fitness is extremely important when you are thinking of becoming a police officer. The physical Ability Test or PAT tests exactly this. The nature of the test varies per the agency that you are trying to apply to. Mostly they try to check your endurance, stamina, speed and strength through a variety of tests.
- Oral Board – This test is designed to see how a candidate reacts under a lot of pressure. They will try to make you break psychologically by trying to reveal your secrets or making you admit your mistakes. If you cannot handle the stress level of this interview, then you certainly aren’t equipped with the mental fortitude to deal with the pressures of the job.
- Background check – This is unlike any other background check. They will go far deeper into your life than any other company will ever bother to look. This is imperative since they need someone they can trust with the nation’s security. They will check not only into your past but that of your relatives too. This will ascertain your reliability.
- Polygraph Test –The polygraph test is designed to measure the applicant’s integrity and honesty. They will grill you on your application and your background check results. It may last several hours depending on how much they want to truly test you or on which department you have applied for.
- Psychological and Physical Tests – This physical test is different from that of the previous one. This is mostly medical tests that include urine and blood samples to test for controlled substances or any diseases that might affect your performance later. The psychological test is a written test conducted by a psychologist. The test is often held on the same day or within short intervals of time of each other.
- Executive Interview – This is an interview conducted by one of the high-ranking officials in the department. Very few people make it this far since they always want to hire the best of the best recruits. After this step, you are practically hired, but you aren’t a police officer just yet.
- The Academy – People who pass the earlier round move on to the academy to train their bodies and minds further to handle the stresses of the job. You can still be dropped at this stage if your results aren’t satisfactory enough. Once out of the police academy, you are now a full-fledged police officer.
The only thing remaining to do after you graduate from the academy is to receive some hands-on training in the field. But this is you shall receive as a registered officer. You can later work up the ranks by putting in hard work. Hopefully, this helped you to understand the process of becoming a police officer.