A key milestone in becoming a police officer is entering a police academy. To help determine how to get into a police academy, consider visiting the police department you’re interested in working for to discuss potential opportunities. From the first moment you begin your journey to becoming a police officer, you will need to prove that you have what it takes to succeed, as there is a great deal of competition in this field.
Each state has different requirements regarding how to get into the police academy, although there are many common requirements across the country.
- U.S. citizenship
- A driver’s license that is registered to the corresponding state in which you wish to attend the academy.
- 21 years of age, although few states allow applicants as young as 18 years old.
- High school diploma and/or associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can increase your competitiveness and ultimately increase your chances of being accepted into the academy.
- Complete Application Process: background check and fingerprint search.
- Academic Test
- Drug test
- Psychological tests
- Physical Training – Physical fitness requirements for police officers often include timed push-ups, sit-ups, and a run.
- Good moral character
- Free of any physical, emotional or mental condition which may adversely affect the performance of duty as a peace officer.
- Individuals who have been dismissed from a military branch under dishonorable conditions.
- Individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence.
- Individuals who have been convicted of a felony.
The academy lifestyle is intense and disciplined and you will follow a strict code of conduct similar to military training. Most academies operate Monday through Friday for approximately six months with weekends off. During the weekdays, you are required to stay at the academy 24 hours a day. This type of training requires a large commitment from you as an individual, as well as from your family. You should prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for the demands of police academy.
At the academy, you will likely receive classroom instruction on civil rights, state and local laws, incident reporting, crime investigation, constitutional law, and criminal psychology. You will also gain supervised experience in facing real-life situations. Throughout training, you will be taught common requirements such as patrol/risk assessment and subject apprehension, accident and emergency response, first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, firearm use, self-defense, and traffic command.
Once you graduate from the police academy, you will dive into your career as a police officer. Just as there are variances in each state’s police academy requirements, there are differences in the promotion process once you’re a member of the department, so be sure to learn what advancement opportunities are available to police officers.