A police officer is an individual that is hired by a local community or government to protect its citizens and enforce the law. Police officers are constantly in demand by local governments, which can make it a great career option. Those that are wondering how do I become a police officer should follow a few steps to become one.
The first step in becoming a police officer is to understand what it’s like to become a police officer. The primary responsibility that all police officers have is to protect the citizens of a community and to help enforce the law. The day to day responsibilities from one police officer to the next will vary quite a bit depending on the department and city that they will be working in. Depending on the city where they work, the actual job of being a police officer can be somewhat dangerous as they will be forced to arrest criminals, which can turn violent.
For someone that wants to become a police officer, having higher formal education is not always a requirement. Most communities across the country will want their police officers to have a high school degree at minimum. While more formal education may not always be required; having more of an education will always lead to more job opportunities and higher pay. Police officers that are in the most demand from employers will often have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminal psychology, or a related field. To be promoted through the organization will almost always require one of these degrees. Many police officers can receive tuition reimbursement from the community if they choose to go back to school to pursue a higher degree.
Unlike most other professions, to become a police officer will require a significant amount of other testing before being hired. Police officers in most communities across the country will have to pass both a psychological evaluation and a physical fitness test. Depending on where the officer is located, they may have to be re-tested every few years to ensure that they are still physically and psychologically strong enough to safely do the job.
When looking to become a police officer, it is also important to understand the compensation that could be received. Police officers are almost always very valued and respected members of a society. The compensation received by a police officer can vary quite a bit from one community to the next. In major cities such as Chicago or New York, it is not uncommon for a police officer to be hired and start making over $60,000 per year, plus overtime and small bonuses. Within 5 to 10 years, it would not be uncommon for a police officer in a major city to earn over $100,000 per year when including overtime and all other compensation. Another key element of a police officer’s compensation is their retirement package. In larger communities, a police officer will receive a pension equal to close to 100% of their pre-retirement salary after working for just 25 years.