The first step to becoming a police officer is to enroll in police academy training. As a law enforcement officer, you take on a greater responsibility for the well-being of the people around you. As an immediately recognizable authoritative figure, the police officer is a well-respected and impactful player in the daily activities of the places where they work and live. Besides personal rewards, the salary is competitive with other job fields at an average of $55,000 per year. With job availability expected to increase by at least 7% through 2020, it is a good time to start.
The cost of tuition varies between different police academies. This is due to regional differences and because of the fact that some offer residential options for trainees, with room and board included in the price of tuition. For the most part, all basic cadet instruction courses range between $1,500 and $5,000. If price is a determinate of your training institution, seek out one that offers classes without requiring trainees to live on-site. Some states also provide their cadets with paychecks while completing their training.
In order to become a police officer, there are several requirements. All officers must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and be a legal resident of the United States. The only education required is a high school diploma or equivalent GED, though college education is a plus. As a law enforcement position, it is also vital that the candidate’s criminal history be free of convictions, felonies, and most misdemeanors. Specifically, applicants with a felony conviction, a domestic violence conviction, or a hate-crime related conviction will not be considered for training. Though not necessarily a requirement, having a good credit score will also help your chances of being accepted for enrollment. Part of the extensive background checking involves a credit check, and those applicants with sufficiently poor credit scores will not be accepted.
The first step to becoming a law enforcement agent is becoming fully committed to the standards that will be expected of you: physically, mentally, and professionally. Getting physically fit will greatly help your odds of being accepted into law enforcement training. Once you feel ready to pass their fitness qualifications, then it is a good time to apply. Applications to local departments can be found online, though some departments require official sponsors and an offer of employment before a cadet is accepted. Police training is scheduled along strict timelines, so applying to an academy before they fill their next available class will greatly improve your chances of being accepting. If these options are already filled, choose a program with a start date further down the line in order to find a seat in class.