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Police Officer Educational Requirements

Majors Overview December 25, 2012

Communities depend on police officers for enforcement of laws and ensuring the safety of properties and citizens. Students who aspire to become police officers are required to satisfy some education prerequisites, apart from certain trainings. In this article, we will look at the career path of a police officer and discuss what an aspiring police officer must do in order to pursue this career path.

Educational Prerequisites

There are some minimum prerequisites that aspiring police officers have to meet, if they want to get hired (source: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( As most states adhere to the civil service regulations with respect to hiring officers, the qualifications that need to be satisfied by police officers seeking employment is more or less uniform across states. The minimum requirements that prospective police officers have to satisfy are listed below:

a) They must be citizens of the United States
b) They must be at least twenty-one years old
c) They must possess a high school diploma or equivalent qualification
d) They must have a valid driving license
e) They must not have any prior convictions

Apart from these general requirements, prospective candidates are required to meet department requirements. Several departments require candidates to have spent some years in college. The employers will conduct a psychological profile investigation before employing prospective officers. Before they can be employed and receive their assignments to a patrol, aspiring police officers have to undergo coursework at a police training academy.

Police Academy training

Before police officers can begin work in a department, they are required to complete a police academy training program. Large police departments generally require new employees to undergo training for twelve to fourteen weeks before assigning them to a patrol. Such training is imparted at an in-house academy relating to the department. Smaller agencies hiring police officers may send new recruits to attend programs at a larger academy located in the region or state. Police training academies are sometimes conducted at a college and university campus. Stamina exercises and physical fitness programs typically comprise coursework relating to police academy training. The completion of a written and physical fitness examination is required before graduates become eligible to begin their duties.

Coursework in a police academy training program includes classroom lectures. Sometimes, police departments attract aspirant officers below the age of twenty-one. Such candidates are assigned simple work at the department until they become old enough for street duties. Police academy coursework usually covers subject areas such as criminal psychology, mental preparation for hostility, civil rights, incident reporting, accident investigation, constitutional law, working with the public, local laws and state ordinances.

While education is noteworthy, police departments expect their recruits to learn on the job. As recruits are engaged in dangerous assignments; they will need to undergo specific training to prepare them to perform their responsibilities successfully. By keeping this objective; recruits are imparted supervised training by training officers. The training covers topics such as role playing, risk assessment, apprehension techniques, self-defense techniques, first-aid and CPR, controlling traffic, responding to emergencies, and using firearms.

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