How to Become A Police Officer Complete Guide

Learn about the process of how to become a police officer in the US, including details on the career outlook, key skills required, and potential salary figures. The following comprehensive guide also contains detailed information on the requirements to become a police officer and the length of time it takes to join this field.

Should I Become a Police Officer?

Police officers are highly trained law enforcement personnel who protect the lives and properties of the residents within their jurisdiction. They respond to emergencies and patrol assigned areas. In addition to that, they obtain warrants and arrest suspects. If you think you have the perceptiveness and physical stamina required to become a part of this field, then you should continue reading. The following statistical data has been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the occupational category of Police and Detectives.

Education Required

Ranges from High School Diploma to a College Degree


Completion of Training Academy Required



Key Skills

Communication Skills, Empathy, Physical Stamina, Leadership Skills, Physical Strength, Good Judgment

Annual Mean Salary (2019)

$67,600 (Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers)

Job Outlook (2018-28)



Career Outlook for a Police Officer

Jobs opportunities for police officers in the US are predicted to grow by 5% from 2018 to 2028, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The continued need for public safety will generate the demand for more officers. However, this demand will vary according to location and state-allocated budgets. Applicants with college degrees might have better job prospects, because of the stiff competition.

Steps to Become a Police Officer

Aspiring police officers in the US need to follow a series of steps to become a police officer.

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or GED

This is the minimum formal education required to get started in a police career.

Step 2: Meet the Basic Requirements

These requirements are discussed in detail below.

Step 3: Get a Bachelor’s Degree (Optional)

Even though getting a college degree is not mandatory, it is recommended since there is stiff competition in the job market for police officers.

Step 4: Clear the Law Enforcement Entrance Exam

Students need to achieve a passing score on an entrance exam, such as the ASSET or the LEE test.

Step 5: Graduate from the Police Academy

This is where applicants get the most important training that helps them in service. This training may last 6 to 8 months, and consists of subjects such as criminal law, firearm training, traffic laws, physical conditioning, etc.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Police Officer?

Candidates aspiring to become police officers need to be at least 18-21 years of age. They ought to have completed high school and possibly even college education. A college degree can take 2 to 4 years to complete. After this, candidates will have to initiate the application process and complete a police training academy, which typically lasts 6 to 8 months.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Police Officer?

The following are some common requirements to become a police officer in the US:

  • Be at least 18-21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Clear a background check
  • Have no past misdemeanor or felony conviction
  • Be allowed to carry firearms
  • Be physically fit
  • Be emotionally stable

How Much Can I Make as a Police Officer?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Sheriffs Patrol Officers made an annual mean income of 67,600 in 2019. The top-paying industry for these officers was the State Government, paying an annual mean salary of $75,110. The top-paying state was California, with an annual mean wage of $105,220 in 2019.

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