Career of a Police Officer – What You Need to Know

When you think of police officers, you probably think of an action-filled job that involves protecting people or rescuing them from dangerous situations. While police officers certainly do these things, police work isn’t always that glamorous.

Police officers also do some rather mundane tasks like paperwork, directing traffic, responding to bogus domestic disputes, and other not-so-dangerous situations. This is why working as a police officer requires a range of skills; police officers must be ready to switch to emergency mode at any moment.

What Are Some Things Police Officers Do in a Typical Work Day?

Police officers do a variety of activities but some common job duties of a police officer are:

1. Arrest people with outstanding warrants

2. Interview witnesses and suspects

3. Testify in court

4. Do paperwork

5. Patrol high crime areas

6. Give traffic tickets

7. Direct traffic

Working as a police officer can be a highly stressful job because one can never know when they may be put into a dangerous situation. You can be sitting at a desk doing paperwork one moment and then called to the scene of a dangerous crime the next.

Most police officers also work at least 40 hours per week; shifts can at times include nights and weekends. Police work is a round-the-clock endeavor and there must be officers on duty at all times.

How Do I Prepare to Become a Police Officer?

Most of the time police officers must be U.S. citizens, though sometimes lawful permanent residents may also become police officers. You must be in good physical shape and display evidence of good moral character. At a minimum, you will need to have a high school diploma and pass the police written exam, physical test, polygraph, and oral board interview.

Some work experience in a related area like store security personnel, nightclub bouncer, or bodyguard, is preferred. Many local and state police departments don’t require a college degree but may require some college credits.

Federal police agencies usually require a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement.

Police agencies usually put newly hired officers through a training academy or course to learn the basics of department procedures. Topics like the safe handling of weapons and those in custodyas well as a variety of other procedural and safety issues will be covered.

What’s the Job Outlook for Police Officers?

The job outlook for police officers is mediocre. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new job openings for police officers is likely to increase about the same as the average for all other jobs through 2016. Crime is an unfortunate fact of life, and police officers will continue to play a vital role in promoting public safety.

While police officers are in demand, there is a moderate competition for jobs because many people look for the sense of challenge and reward that the career of a police officer can provide. Local policedepartments will offer the best growth opportunities and candidates with experience in the military or related fields plus some college coursework in police science will have better chances of getting hired.

Special Note: If you want a competitive edge and want to get hired as a police officer,  you must get a top score on the police exam and the police oral board interview. Simply getting a passing grade on the exam is not enough anymore as the competition, due to the struggling economy, is at an all time high.  You can find the top 50 police exam questions and answers here.

Article Source:  The Police Officer Career and What You Need to Know