Every police officer relies on basic training to provide them with the fundamental skills and insights they will need for the rest of their career. The police academy is an important place for new recruits to train and develop as law enforcement professionals. Without enrolling at the police academy, you will never become a police officer. Taking the first steps towards a new career as a police officer can be overwhelming and a little confusing, but there are some easy ways to get your career moving in the right direction.
- Complete your Qualifications
Each state has a different policy on the minimum qualifications for entering the police force. But there are some general guidelines that every candidate can expect. All police officers must have their high school diploma or GED. In most states, you must be at least 21 years old to enter the academy, but in a few others the minimum age is 18. Every police officer must eventually obtain their firearm license, so it can be beneficial to obtain your permit to bear arms in advance of your enrollment in basic training. Check with your state’s local police department to find out specifics on qualifications.
- Find a Police Academy
There are many options for police academy training throughout the United States. In large states, there may be over two dozen academies to choose from. In small states, there may only be one or two academies. Choose a police academy based on its location and your intended career path. There are separate academies for municipal police and state troopers, so make sure you know your preferences in advance. Police academies can be hosted at community colleges or local police departments.
- Schedule a Ride-Along
To enroll in basic training, most police departments require recruits to obtain an endorsement or offer of employment in advance of their application. One of the best ways to show your interest in getting a job as a police officer is to participate in volunteer police work. Scheduling a ride-along with your local police department offers two perks for aspiring cadets; you get a chance to personally meet a member of the police force, and you gain some brief experience with the daily tasks of an active police officer. This is just one way to reach out and establish a relationship with your local police. By demonstrating your interest in the work, you can build a connection to your local police department. If you have the right qualifications and they have the openings in their department, you’ll be able to apply for the academy with the next wave of recruits.