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How to Become a Police Officer



Working as a police officer is an ideal choice of career for anybody who likes fast-paced and exciting work and wants to make a meaningful impact when serving their community. Police officers are tasked with enforcing the laws that are in place to protect life and property, protecting communities and tracking down criminals to get them off the streets. There are various routes available to consider when it comes to becoming a police officer, from on-the-job training and police academy training to taking a policing degree course. Working as a police officer can be a lifelong career or it can be used as a step into a more advanced law enforcement or criminal justice career after gaining some experience in the field. Continue reading if you are considering becoming a police officer and want to learn more about the various routes into this career.

Make Sure It’s the Right Career for You

As with any career path, it’s important to do your research into what the position involves to determine whether or not this is the right option for you. It’s important to make sure that you consider the career in general, the education required, and the intensity of the day-to-day job that you will experience while working in this career to make sure that you are up for this career path. It’s also worth considering the advancement opportunities that are available in the police and make sure that becoming a police officer is going to be a step in the right direction for you if you want to get into federal work or higher-level administration roles.

How Long Will It Take to Become a Police Officer?

It’s important to know how long the educational process is going to take when you choose to follow any career path. If you want to work as a police officer, there are a few answers to this question depending on which route you want to take to get into this career. Typically, an online BA in policing from Wilfrid Laurier University will take around 3-4 years to complete when studied full-time, before you will need to embark on police academy initial training to get you prepared for working on the job. Police academy training will typically take up to one year. If you want to pursue further education in policing, you may consider a master’s degree in policing or law enforcement which typically takes between 1-3 years when studied full-time.

Skills You Need to Be a Police Officer

Many of the skills that you will need for a successful career in policing will be skills that you already possess and will work on. Communication skills are some of the most important to develop when working in this career since not only are police officers needed to be in constant communication with each other to ensure that they are in the loop about what is happening at any given time, but they will also need to be able to effectively get their point across to the members of the public that they work with on a daily basis. An ability to adapt quickly to change is another essential skill that you will need to succeed as a police officer since things can be very unpredictable in this line of work. You never know what is going to happen on any given day.

Choosing the Right Training and Education

There was a time where becoming a police officer was as simple as graduating from high school before attending short academy and on-the-job training before starting work. However, today most police departments have raised the bar when it comes to their educational requirements. For most people who want to get into a career in the police, this means that the best way to do it is to pursue a degree in criminology, criminal justice, policing or law enforcement. However, there are other routes into the profession that might suit you better if you are not the academic type. On-the-job training does exist for some police departments, while others might be happy to take you on and provide the training you need to change to this career if you hold any bachelor’s degree in any subject. Joining the military and training to be a police officer from there is another option to consider.

How Police Academy Training Works

No matter which route you choose to get into the police, you will need to complete police academy training before you will be able to start working for a police department. This is a training program that is designed to provide you with formal, specific training for being a police officer and involves a range of classroom and field training exercises. During this training you will be introduced to the day-to-day work of becoming a police officer and how to deal with the public in your new position. This will usually also involve coursework that can vary depending on the department you want to work for. You will usually be expected to pass a series of tests to demonstrate your knowledge and skills as you prepare to become a police officer.

Applying to Work as a Police Officer

Working in the police is a popular career choice, so each job opening is likely to have more than a few applicants. Becoming a police officer can be a highly competitive process depending on your location, and in some areas, there might be hundreds of qualified applicants trying to make an impression for just a small handful of available positions. When applying for work in the police, it’s important to make sure that you stand out from the crowd and get the attention of those in charge of hiring. You can do this by demonstrating your commitment to developing your law enforcement knowledge and skills and ensuring that you are physically and emotionally ready for the demands of the job. It might be worth familiarising yourself with common interview questions for the police before applying, so that you’re ready to face anything.

Working as a police officer is a great career choice for those who like fast-paced, meaningful work.

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