How to Become a Police Officer in Your State

The selection process to become a police officer is not easy. In fact, the entire process is a long and tedious one.  Sometimes it can take up to 9 months before you are hired. I know that sounds like a long time, but if you stay the course, you’ll be glad that you did.

The requirements to be a police officer differ from agency to agency, but there are some general requirements most departments across the country use to measure a potential prospect.

  • You must be a United State citizen
  • You must not have been convicted of a felony
  • You must not have been convicted of domestic battery
  • You must not have had your driver’s license  suspended or revoked at anytime
  • You must not have been dishonorably discharged
  • You must not have any cases pending
  • You must be 21 years of age in most states
  • You must not have a poor credit history
  • You must have a high school and/or GED (some departments require at least 60 college credits)

Watch the video below for a quick overview on the process to become a police officer.

Those are just some of the requirements one needs to be a police officer in some states. There can be more or less requirements depending on the department.  In most cases, some or all of the following steps will be involved:

  • Completion of a detailed employment application and personal history statement
  • You must pass the Police written exam (differs from agency to agency, depending on whether the department falls under state civil service regulations, and may measure basic reading comprehension and writing skills, general intelligence, and/or specific knowledge)
  • You must pass the physical agility test (usually administered as a timed course designed to measure occupation-related tasks such as changing a tire, dragging of a dummy body a certain distance, sprinting, broad jumping, scaling a wall, etc)
  • An initial interview with one or more police officials
  • An extensive background investigation for the purpose of ascertaining an applicant’s character, maturity level, integrity and suitability for police work
  • A physical examination by a physician to determine if an applicant is in sound health
  • A drug screening test to detect use of any illicit drugs
  • A psychological examination by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, usually including standardized tests to detect serious psychological disorders and potential psychological problems
  • You must pass the police oral review board (panel interview) often consisting of scenario situations and problem-solving exercises, designed to measure the applicant’s decision-making ability, knowledge of the law and general law enforcement procedures, and ethical factors

Once hired, a police officer generally will need to attend a police training academy. After the recruit has passed all curriculum course exams at the academy, they are then assigned to a field training officer. They will work alongside an experienced officer for a designated period of time before being allowed to function on his/her own.

Remember the requirements above can vary from department to department, but generally they are looking for the same qualified applicant.