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Police officers protect our society by enforcing laws and maintaining peace. The job requires excellent judgment, hard work, extraordinary courage, and also the ability to think quickly. Knowing what to expect in job preparation, the academy, and at the interview stage will help you prepare for your career in becoming a police officer. Working as an officer gives you an opportunity to help others by undertaking risks and make the world a better place. It also often provide salaries and benefits which will provide a comparatively comfortable living for you and your family. So here are 9 tips which you can refer to to follow your dreams as a police officer/law enforcement.
Getting a high school diploma or basic degree is the minimum formal education required for most police officers. Many law enforcement organizations require candidates with a bachelor’s degree or a certain number of post-secondary education credits. A universal requirement for working as a police officer is a high school diploma. A college degree may appeal to potential employers and may even be required by some enforcement agencies. Through a bachelor’s degree, one can obtain helpful knowledge and skills to apply to a career in law enforcement. Learning a foreign language can help one communicate more efficiently with witnesses or suspects and may help you to stand out among other candidates.
You must be at least 18 or 21 years of age depending on the department you apply to, have a driving license, and be a legal citizen where you live, in order to become a police officer. Having a clean criminal record is an important thing to keep in mind when applying for enforcement departments, so make sure to avoid using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol, and being associated with criminals.
It is a must to pass the basic law enforcement exam before going to the academy. The exam defers from department to department but the syllabus remains the same. Getting a good score on the test gives your application an extra boost which will help you to become an officer and have a chance to impress your potential employer.
Police officers need to have quick reflexes, the ability to run short or long distances, strength, and should also be mentally fit. You will have to pass a physical agility test as well as a psychological test which will determine if you are strong enough physically and mentally, to qualify for becoming a police officer. Participating in high school or college sports, alongside exercising regularly, can build up the required endurance to become a cop, and earning a few medals also looks good in a resume when applying for law enforcement.
It is compulsory for all potential cops to attend a police academy for training. Training usually lasts for about 6 months, which includes courses in a variety of areas, like; First aid/CPR, State, federal, and local laws, Firearm use, etc. Fitness plays an important role in academy training, so staying in shape during the hiring process will serve you well. It is important to get a good score in the academy otherwise you can also be kicked out of the academy for your casual behavior.
There are plenty of opportunities to work in a number of specialties within law enforcement, including animal control, wildlife, and conservation, traffic control, cybercrime, etc. Take your time to research where you feel your interests and skills will suit you, then pursue jobs at the department that provide the best opportunities for you to excel and use your skills to their full potential.
For candidates interested in specializing in a particular field of the department, it is a must to become acquainted with the detective or lieutenant in charge of that particular division to get more information about the department you will work in. It is also good to have some good relations with the spies or undercover agents who work for your department to do the research for you, which is sometimes impossible for police officers.
A complete application is necessary to be submitted to the department you want to work in. After being accepted, eligible candidates are placed together for future police officer openings. Candidates must also pass tests to become police officers, including those involved with fitness, drug, and lie detectors; along with a civil service test that ensures that job candidates possess the qualities needed to be a professional in the field.
Depending on the department, moving up the ranks depends on the level of experience, performance reviews, scoring well on a written promotion exam, and obtaining additional skills and training. Pay increases with a promotion, but so does the level of responsibility to make sure the society is living in peace.
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