How to Become a S.W.A.T Team Member – Advice on Requirements and Salary

If you want to become a swat team member  for your respective police department there are some things you must know. First, you must know SWAT team officers are in excellent physical shape so if you’re out of shape, you won’t make it through the selection process.

If you didn’t already know this, SWAT team officers are some of the best trained officers on any given department. They train several times a month, sharp-tuning their techniques for potential high risk situations.

SWAT team member are usually on call 24/7,  if you want to become SWAT (especially in big agencies like Chicago Police DEPT, NYPD, LAPD) be prepared to give up some of your free time. The great thing about being on the SWAT team is you’ll get special unit pay and you’ll get fantastic training to put on your resume if you decide to move on to the federal level later on in your career.

Watch The Video Below For Information On How To Join The SWAT Team:

Here are just some of the requirements, qualifications, and a salary outlook for a SWAT team member. Remember, this may differ from department to department.

Job Description

SWAT Operators are trained specialists who resolve high-risk tactical situations. A SWAT member’s special training and flexibility allow the SWAT team to tackle hostage situations, high-risk warrant service operations, search and rescue operations, tactical waterborne operations, covert and undercover tactical operations, special circumstances such as crowd control and rural searches, and many other high-risk circumstances. The SWAT team is often comprised of some of the most highly trained unit of a police department.

Median Salary


Education Requirements

Generally, SWAT operators must have three years minimum experience in their respective department. It is not necessary for a SWAT operators to have a college degree. SWAT operators also are involved in advanced training which includes everything from sniper/counter-sniper operations to helicopter insertion techniques.

Job Outlook

SWAT job outlook differs from department to department. There is a national projected need for 243,000 more police officers, including SWAT operators, ending in the year 2016.

How to Become a SWAT Team Officer – Requirements & Qualifications Needed

If you want to be part of the SWAT team, there is a series of exams that you must pass to make this a reality. The first thing that you must do in order to be a SWAT team participant is to get hired as a police officer.

I know that sounds like a given but some people  think they can simply walk off the street and apply to be a SWAT team officer. It’s not that simple. In fact, you must apply and get hired as a police officer first before you can go into a specialized unit like the S.W.A.T team.

Here are some general requirements that’s needed to become part of the S.W.A.T team:

  • You must apply and get hired as a police officer
  • You must have been on the department for at least one year
  • You must have went through your rookie year without any negative write-ups
  • You must possess a good work ethic
  • You must pass the polygraph test
  • You must pass the oral board interview
  • You must pass the psychological evaluation
  • You must be in good physical condition

That’s about it for all the requirements needed to become a SWAT team member. The most important things on that list is you must apply and get hired as a police officer. To get hired as quickly as possible and separate yourself from the competition, you must get a top score on the oral board interview. The hiring panel puts more emphasis on how well you do on your oral exam than anything else.

So in conclusion, if you want to become a police officer as quickly as possible and later become a SWAT team officer, the only thing you need to worry about RIGHT NOW is getting hired.

Job Description and Mission Of a SWAT Team Officer

The Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) depending on the police agency normally consists of around 30-50 Police Officers that provide specialized services in support of a Police Department’s mission. The main goal of the SWAT Team is to provide protection and safety for innocent civilians and Police personnel while reducing the possibility of injuries or death at high risk incidents.

Organizationally, the SWAT Team depending on the size of the agency is comprised of a one Lieutenant, 3-4 Sergeant, 25-30 SWAT Officers and six Marksman. The SWAT Team reports directly to the Criminal Investigations Division’s Commander.

Every SWAT Officer has a primary duty in the  Police Department, such as; a Road Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer, Detective, Motorcycle Officer etc. The Officer’s assignment to the SWAT Team is voluntary and is an additional responsibility to their normal duties.

Incidents in which the SWAT Team (also known as the Special Response Team – SRT) is needed:

Sniper Situations
Barricaded Suspects
Hostage Situations
Dignitary Protection
Civil Disturbance
Search & Arrest Warrants
Armed Suspect
Narcotics Raids
Anti Terrorism

Duties & Responsibilities:

SWAT COMMANDER: The SWAT Commander is responsible for presenting tactical operations for the safe resolution of an incident. Additional responsibilities range from the selection and training of a SWAT Officer to maintaining administrative and logistical records.

TEAM LEADER: The Team Leader is a senior SWAT Officer who has been selected to command the entry team in a high risk situation.

TEAM MEMBER: An Officer trained in the use of special weapons and tactics who is utilized in various capacities which include: inner perimeter security, building entry and suspect apprehension, hostage rescue, team security, delivery of chemical agents, anti-sniper techniques, dignitary protection.

SCOUTS: A two man team that is sent out ahead of the main body of the team to ascertain any information that will assist in the safe deployment of the team.

UTILITY MAN: The Utility Man carries additional equipment and a fully stocked back pack and is considered Rear Security for the team. He is armed with a shotgun to deploy chemical weapons and breaching rounds.

BREACHER: Team members that are responsible for forcibly opening secured doors and clearing blocked avenues of entrance for the SWAT team to make their entry.

GAS TEAM: Two man teams that deploy chemicals into a structure.

MARKSMAN: A SWAT Officer trained in the use of a scoped rifle.

Qualifications, Job Training, and Promotions

  • Tests of vision, hearing, strength, and agility are required.
  • Participate in written competitive examinations.
  • At least a high school education is required though many entry-level applicants have completed some formal postsecondary education and a significant number are college graduates.
  • Aspirants should enjoy working with people and meeting the public.
  • Interviews by senior officers, character traits and backgrounds investigation and, in some agencies, interviews by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, or given a personality test are required.
  • Submission to polygraph examinations or drug testing is also required.
  • Knowing a foreign language can be an asset.
  • Going through a training period prior to their first assignment, state and large local department recruits are trained in their agency’s police academy for about 12 to 14 weeks. A regional or state academy is for recruits for smaller agencies. Classroom instruction in constitutional law and civil rights, state laws and local ordinances, and accident investigation is included in training.
  • Training and supervised experience in patrol, traffic control, firearms, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response is required.
  • After a probationary period ranging from six months to three years, promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain usually are made according to a candidate’s position on a promotion list, as determined by scores on a written examination and job performance.
  • Self-defense tactics, firearms, use-of-force policies, sensitivity and communications skills, crowd-control techniques, legal developments, and advances in law enforcement equipment are required as a part of annual training.

Average Salaries, Earnings, Annual Salary Of a SWAT Officer

The average salary for s.w.a.t. jobs is $64,000. Average s.w.a.t. salaries can vary greatly due to size of agency, location, experience and benefits.

This salary was calculated using the average salary for all jobs with the term “s.w.a.t.” anywhere in the job listing.