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How to Become a Cop

How to become a cop has several options that will allow you to arrive at the same spot. All, however, require some career training; it’s not an occupation in which you can apply at a precinct house, get an interview, and get hired.

Basic Criteria to Becoming a Cop

Become a CopThe first requirement, regardless of jurisdiction or location, is that you are at least 21 years of age, a United States citizen, and have at least a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED).

Most police departments require that you have one or two years of college; many require at least a bachelor’s degree in an applicable field. If you have a four-year degree from a campus-based or an online course, but it’s not in a related field, you can go back to school and receive the minimal online degree required, an associate’s degree, in a field to those in the sample list of bachelor’s degrees, below.

An additional requirement in how to become a cop is that you must be legally able to carry a firearm.

Although it’s not required, having a sports or physical activity background may elevate your application. Physical fitness, stamina, drive and desire are top qualities both for the police academy and on the job.

Post-Secondary Education

As noted above, some departments still accept only high school diploma or GED. Some require some level of college or college degree. Many are now requiring a four-year degree in a field that relates to police work.

If you are in the Military Police, you will probably receive credit for the training and the work experience in law enforcement. Whether or not you can have the education requirement waived would be determined by the academy to which you apply.

Some sample baccalaureate degrees that directly relate to law enforcement include Bachelor of Science in Police Science, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science in Criminology, and even Bachelor of Science in Psychology with emphasis in Criminology. Your exact degree path is determined by your primary interest and class availability and can certainly differ from this partial list of related degrees.

Determine the exact education requirements of the police academy and the police department to which you want to apply. You can directly contact the academy or a career counselor for the school that interests you and ask for this information pertaining to how to become a cop.

Police Academy

Once you have the required education or work credit, you must find and apply to a police academy. The first phase of acceptance is, of course, review of your application. If you pass that hurdle, you still haven’t been accepted into the academy. You will undergo a physical examination, fitness exam, and a preliminary psychological profile.

Once you are accepted into the academy, direct training begins. You will learn about laws, criminal apprehension, surveillance, proper entry and probable cause, to name just a few important topics.

You will engage in practical activities focused on applying what you learn in class. You may even be tagged to assist the police in crowd control or traffic regulation for major events.

As you learn, you will be constantly evaluated on your grades, your participation and your attitude. Study well and hard, now that you have learned how to become a cop.

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