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Become A Police Officer

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Working As A Police Officer

  • Getting Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Make Decisions

  • $66,770

    Average Salary

What Does A Police Officer Do

A Police Officer is responsible for protecting citizens through preventing crime, enforcing laws, arresting suspects, and monitoring traffic. They also write crime reports, gather prosecution evidence, and present that evidence in court.

How To Become A Police Officer

Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before completing a period of on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualification standards. A felony conviction or drug use may disqualify a candidate.

Education

Police and detective applicants must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, although many federal agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a college degree. Many community colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities offer programs in law enforcement and criminal justice, and agencies may offer financial assistance to officers who pursue these, or related, degrees. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many federal agencies and geographical regions.

Fish and game wardens applying for federal jobs with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service typically need a college degree; and those applying to work for a state’s natural resources department often need a high school diploma or some college study in a related field, such as biology or natural resources management.

Federal agencies typically require a bachelor's degree. For example, FBI and DEA special agent applicants are often college graduates.

State and local agencies encourage applicants to continue their education after high school, by taking courses and training related to law enforcement. Many applicants for entry-level police jobs have taken some college classes, and a significant number are college graduates. Many community colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities offer programs in law enforcement and criminal justice. Many agencies offer financial assistance to officers who pursue these or related degrees.

Training

Candidates for appointment usually attend a training academy before becoming an officer. Training includes classroom instruction in state and local laws and constitutional law, civil rights, and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response.

Federal law enforcement agents undergo extensive training, usually at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, or at a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Detectives normally begin their careers as police officers before being promoted to detective.

FBI special agent applicants typically must have at least 3 years of professional work experience in areas ranging from computer science to accounting.

Other Experience

Some police departments have cadet programs for people interested in a career in law enforcement who do not yet meet age requirements for becoming an officer. These cadets do clerical work and attend classes until they reach the minimum age requirement and can apply for a position with the regular force. Military or police experience may be considered beneficial for potential cadets.

Cadet candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually be at least 21 years old, have a driver’s license, and meet specific physical qualifications. Applicants may have to pass physical exams of vision, hearing, strength, and agility, as well as written exams. Previous work or military experience is often seen as a plus. Candidates typically go through a series of interviews and may be asked to take lie detector and drug tests. A felony conviction may disqualify a candidate.

Advancement

Police officers usually become eligible for promotion after a probationary period. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain usually are made according to a candidate's position on a promotion list, as determined by scores on a written examination and on-the-job performance. In large departments, promotion may enable an officer to become a detective or to specialize in one type of police work, such as working with juveniles.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Police, detectives, and fish and game wardens must be able to speak with people when gathering facts about a crime and to express details about a given incident in writing.

Empathy. Police officers need to understand the perspectives of a wide variety of people in their jurisdiction and have a willingness to help the public.

Good judgment. Police and detectives must be able to determine the best way to solve a wide array of problems quickly.

Leadership skills. Police officers must be comfortable with being a highly visible member of their community, as the public looks to them for assistance in emergency situations.

Perceptiveness. Officers, detectives, and fish and game wardens must be able to anticipate a person’s reactions and understand why people act a certain way.

Physical stamina. Officers and detectives must be in good physical shape, both to pass required tests for entry into the field, and to keep up with the daily rigors of the job.

Physical strength. Police officers must be strong enough to physically apprehend offenders.

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19 Police Officer jobs

Embrace Home Loans, Inc.
Ashburn, VA
Loan Officer

$47,543 Estimated

Embracehomeloansinc
Ashburn, VA
Loan Officer

$47,543 Estimated

Embrace Home Loans, Inc.
Ashburn, VA
Loan Officer

$47,543 Estimated

Embrace Home Loans, Inc.
Ashburn, VA
Loan Officer Assistant

$50,088 Estimated

Embrace Home Loans, Inc.
Ashburn, VA
Loan Officer Assistant

$50,088 Estimated

Georgetown Univerisity
Washington, DC
Special Police Officer (SPO) - Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD)

$66,770 Estimated

Fairfax County Government
Fairfax, VA
Police Officer I

$66,770 Estimated

U.S. Capitol Police
Washington, DC
Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

Fairfax County Government
Fairfax, VA
Animal Protection Police Officer I

$66,770 Estimated

U.S. Capitol Police
Washington, DC
Police Officer (Court Liaison)

$66,770 Estimated

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Washington, DC
Special Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration
Washington, DC
Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

Army Installation Management Command
Silver Spring, MD
Supervisory Police Officer

$46,442 Estimated

Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, DC
Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

Allied Universal
Washington, DC
Armed Special Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

George Washington University
Washington, DC
Special Police Officer 1

$66,770 Estimated

Paragon
Derwood, MD
FED Special Police Officer

$46,442 Estimated

U.S. Capitol Police
Washington, DC
Police Officer

$66,770 Estimated

Fairfax County Sheriff's Office
Fairfax, VA
Animal Protection Police Officer I

$66,770 Estimated

Add To My Jobs

Top Skills for A Police Officer

LawEnforcementAgenciesPresentEvidencePublicSafetyMotorVehicleAccidentsEmergencySituationsArrestWarrantsCriminalActsCrimeScenesPoliceDepartmentCriminalInvestigationsStateLawsCriminalLawsTrafficLawsFirearmsCrimePreventionTrafficAccidentsTrafficEnforcementCommunityRelationsTrafficControlLocalLaws

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Top Police Officer Skills

  1. Law Enforcement Agencies
  2. Present Evidence
  3. Public Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Promoted teamwork and leadership between law enforcement agencies.
  • Testified in court to present evidence or act as witness in traffic and criminal cases.
  • Enforce all federal and state laws, city ordinances and codes relating to public safety and welfare.
  • Investigated several hundred motor vehicle accidents, including multiple fatalities.
  • Interfaced with the Police and Fire Department and respond to all emergency situations as needed or directed by policy.

Top Police Officer Employers

What Kind Of Companies Hire a Police Officer

  1. Department of Defense
  2. Department of Veterans Affairs
  3. Department of The Air Force
  4. New York City Department of Education
  5. Metropolitan Police Department
  6. United States Air Force
  7. Memphis Police Department
  8. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  9. Allied Barton
  10. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
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Police Officer Videos

K-9 Police Officer, Career Video from drkit.org

Police Officer Career Information : How to Become a Police Officer

Police Jobs : How to Become a Police Officer