Becoming a police officer isn't easy. Getting police officer jobs is becoming more and more competitive. However, reading and understanding the information below could increase your chances of becoming a police officer or other law enforcement officer dramatically! Here is what you need to know.
The perception other people have of you is very important. If people perceive you to be irresponsible, lazy, rude, stupid, crazy, etc. then you might have a difficult time obtaining a law enforcement officer job with most agencies. Note that I used the term perception. You might be a responsible, energetic, polite, intelligent person with good common sense. However, if people perceive you to be otherwise, a background investigator and hiring authority filling police officer jobs, might never realize that. A thorough background investigation will include asking several people personal questions about your character. These people include family members, current and past classmates, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, supervisors, landlords, etc. Investigators might speak with people that knew you years earlier. Whether or not you become a police officer can depend heavily on your reputation!
Your criminal history is very important. On applications or background questionnaires, agencies looking to fill police officer jobs or other law enforcement jobs require you to report any crimes that you have been charged with to include traffic offenses. They also ask you if you have committed any relatively serious crimes that you were not charged with. This would include theft, drug use, assault, etc. If you fail to report something, and the background investigator finds out, you will almost certainly not get the job. Honesty and integrity are extremely important traits for police officers and those looking for police jobs. Remember that no one is perfect. Just because you made a bad decision or two in your past doesn't necessarily mean that you will be deemed unsuitable for police jobs or other law enforcement jobs. A thorough background investigation will include checking with the Federal Bureau of Investigation records and court and police department records in every jurisdiction where you have lived, worked, or went to school.
Your employment history is very important when you are being considered for police jobs. Any jobs you had or have are important. All jobs you've held including part-time, full-time, or temporary jobs are important. It doesn't matter if they are executive positions with a fortune 500 company or cashier positions at McDonald's or Walmart. You want to be perceived as an excellent employee. You should strive to be professional, punctual, courteous, well groomed, and able to work well with others. You want to be thought of as reliable, and not known for calling off, being late, or unorganized. Also avoid horseplay, and do not quit without notice. Often times, people that want police jobs or other law enforcement jobs work security jobs until they become police officers. Security jobs are abundant, and are usually easier to obtain than police jobs. Some people work part-time as security officers while attending college, etc. Loss prevention officer jobs can be a lot of fun.
Your education is very important if you want to get a police job. The more education you have, the better chance you have of getting a law enforcement job and the more selective you can be about what police jobs or law enforcement jobs you try to obtain. Some agencies require only a high school diploma or GED. Many agencies require some college or an associate degree. Some departments require a bachelor degree. We tell anyone we talk to, and if you are reading this, we are telling you! If you want to become a police officer, get as much education as you can- PERIOD! The police jobs or other law enforcement jobs will be there after you graduate, and they will be easier to get with more education. Also, when you do become a law enforcement officer, it will be easier for you to advance to a supervisor position or an investigator position. Some police departments pay their officers more if they have degrees. When it comes to education, more is merrier. However, grades matter too.
The better your grades, the easier it will be for you to get a good law enforcement job. There are many ways to pay for college these days such as scholarships, grants, and loans. Find a school that you are interested in, and contact their admissions office. They will usually bend over backwards to assist you. There are also many reputable, accredited schools that allow you to take classes and earn degrees online. Check out their websites, and then call them if you have any questions. Criminal justice degrees are certainly good choices for people pursuing police jobs. However, a degree in another field that interests you is probably just as good. Choose a major that interests you and that would be good for police jobs. For example, an accounting or business degree would give you a great background for investigating white collar crime. Psychology degrees are great since most police officers interact with people every day, and a good knowledge base of human behavior can prove to be invaluable. Degrees in communications, science, management, or a foreign language would be good choices. For police jobs or other law enforcement jobs, a computer related degree is an excellent choice. Agencies looking to fill police jobs want educated, well-rounded people with good interpersonal skills to join their ranks. It's not until you begin a law enforcement academy that you have to worry about learning how to be a law enforcement officer. Read more at our College for Police page.
Your credit history is very important. It is very difficult to get hired for police jobs or other law enforcement jobs by a good agency if you have bad credit and or a lot of debt. Bad credit indicates irresponsibility. If you have a lot of debt, agencies believe that you might be more likely to accept bribes, etc. If you want to become a police officer, you should do everything that you can to improve your credit and reduce your debt. Of course, credit problems are like crimes, it is always better to prevent them from occurring! However, there are many ways that you can improve your credit. One of the first things you should do is check your credit report. By law, you are entitled to receive a FREE credit report every year! Check out our Your Credit and Criminal Justice Careers page to find out how to get your credit score and begin improving it!
Military experience is a real advantage for people looking for police jobs. Military service is an excellent way to gain life and job experience. You can enlist as a military police officer and get excellent training and valuable experience. All branches of the military have military police officers or the equivalent. We will post more information about military police jobs or military law enforcement jobs in the near future. There are programs that will pay for your college after you get out of the military, and there are programs that will reimburse you if you have already earned a college degree. We would generally suggest getting a degree first if possible.
Here is a tip that should be pretty obvious. Be as physically fit as you can be. Most law enforcement agencies require you to pass a medical exam and a physical ability test as part of the hiring process for police jobs or other law enforcement jobs. Also, once you become a police officer, your life can literally depend on you being physically fit. There are several ways to get in shape, gain muscle, and lose fat! Check out our Police Officer Fitness page for more information.
Research, research, research! Knowledge is power! Continue exploring our site. The more you learn about police jobs and how to get them, the further ahead you will be. Most larger agencies have their own websites where you can find general information about the agency and detailed information about applicant requirements and the agency's hiring process.
The sooner that you start preparing for your career as a police officer, the better. Do you want to become a police officer? Start preparing NOW!