Are you passionate about becoming a police officer? If yes, then the following comprehensive guide on how long does it take to become a police officer would certainly be of interest to you. It lists down the detailed requirements relating to education and training, along with providing information on potential salaries.
What Does a Police Officer Do?
The main job of a police officer is to maintain order and keep communities safe. To do that, they respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, patrol specified areas, conduct traffic stops, search for vehicle records, get warrants from the court to arrest suspects and collect evidence from the crime scene. Police officers also write detailed reports on criminal incidents in their area, along with observing the activities of suspects.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Police Officer?
To become a police officer in the US, candidates have to pass a series of steps and meet multiple requirements.
Education Requirements – 2 to 4 Years
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers require a high school diploma to be eligible for application. However, with the recent surge in competition for the limited number of positions, more and more employers are showing a preference for college degrees. Students can go for a 2-year long associate's degree or a 4-year long bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Eligibility Requirements – Several Months
To be eligible for the position of a police officer in the US, candidates will have to ensure that they meet the minimum criteria. Applicants will have to be US citizens and will be required to carry a valid driver's license. In addition to that, they must have a clean criminal record in most departments.
Some departments allow candidates with criminal records, as long as the offenses are minor. Any felony conviction would lead to an automatic disqualification from the application process. Ensuring the fulfillment of these requirements and getting the relevant physical and medical tests done might take several months.
Training Requirements – 6 months
Once candidates get selected for an appointment, they are required to complete a training period at a police academy. This training would consist of topics such as criminal statutes, firearms training, driver training, physical conditioning, traffic laws, search, and seizure, etc. These programs combine classroom training with physical training to ensure candidates are sufficiently prepared for the tough nature of the job.
How Much Does a Police Officer Make in the US?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers in the US made an annual mean income of $67,600 in 2019. The median salary for the same period was $63,150. The highest paying industry for these officers was the state government, excluding schools and hospitals, with an annual mean wage of $75,110. This was followed by the local government, which paid $67,480 and Support Activities for Air Transportation, which paid $63,940.
The top paying state for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers was California, with an annual mean wage of $105,220. This was followed by Alaska, with an annual mean wage of $87,870 and New Jersey, with an annual mean wage of $86,840 in 2019.