Police Officer

How to Become a Police Officer
Job Duties of Police Officers
Skills and Qualities of a Police Officer
Police Officer Salary
Influential Professional Police Officers
Leading Organizations for Police Officers
Top Cities for Police Officer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Police Officer

At a minimum police recruits must have a high school diploma or GED; however, many departments require that recruits have had some form of post-secondary education. This can be a few classes or a degree. Many universities and community colleges offer a degree in law enforcement or in administration of justice. In addition to education, participation in sports or athletics is beneficial to recruits as this can help develop one's stamina and agility.

Once accepted as a recruit, many departments will require the completion of the respective police academy course. Academy training will usually last between twelve and fourteen weeks. During this time, recruits will learn constitutional, civil, state, and local laws. In addition to this, recruits will learn how to investigate an accident, self-defense, firearms usage, patrol, first aid, and receive EMT training.

Some departments, especially those in large cities, may offer high school students a clerical position. While in this position, students work with law enforcement by doing office work but must also take classes. This usually lasts for about one to two years or until the teen is of age to become an officer.

Aside from education, most departments require that officers pass a physical examination that includes a basic health assessment as well as a vision and hearing screening. Recruits must also be United States citizens, 20 years old, and in some cases free of misdemeanor or felony charges.

As technology improves and new laws are passed, officers may need to complete continuing education classes. In addition to this, most departments require that officers complete First Aid and CPR classes. These certifications are renewed every year or two. At each renewal period, a written examination must be completed and passed. Sometimes class attendance may be required.

What does a Police Officer do?

A police officer can be called upon for a variety of things ranging from domestic disputes, dangerous animals, as well as break-ins to homes and cars. Officers are called upon frequently to attend to accidents, suspicious activity, and even homicides. Furthermore, officers may be called upon in court in order to testify as to what was witnessed at the scene of a crime.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Police Officer?

Due to the dangerous and stressful nature of police work, prospective officers need to have the ability to deal with high stress situations as well as the ability to make quick decisions in these situations. The ability to not be distracted during high stress situations is also an asset because distractions can lead to others being injured.

One of the job hazards of being a police officer is that sometimes an officer will witness harmful behavior towards others, suffering, and death. Those interested in being an officer will need to know how to deal with these situations emotionally. However, this skill may be one that can be mastered over time.

Police officers will need to know how to balance work and personal lives as the time spent on the job can take a toll on one's personal life. This is especially true for those who work as federal agents and some in cases as a detective. These types of professions often require a lot of travel and sometimes this travel may occur at the last minute. Other types of officer jobs such as those with the US Border Patrol require officers to spend long amounts of time away from their families.

Other officers such as uniformed officers usually work a 40-hour week however this is done in shifts due to the fact that the police have to provide protection twenty-four hours a day. Those just starting out usually receive the shifts that no one else wants such as holiday, weekend, and night. Officers may also be called on to work over-time if there is a shortage or for events such as parades.

How much does a Police Officer make?

Officers who work with the local police departments or a sheriff's office had an average income of $47,460 during 2006. The middle 50% of this group of individuals earned between $35,600 and $59,880 while only the top 10% earned more than $72,450.

Those in a supervisory role earned an average of $69,310 during 2006 with the middle 50% earning between $53,900 and $83,940. Those in the federal government earned an average of $85,170 while those in state government earned an average of $68,990.

Officers who fulfill a detective or investigator role earned an average of $58,260 while those who performed this work at a federal level earned $65,510 and those in the state government earned $49,370.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

William J. Johnson is the present Executive Director of the National Association for Police Organizations (NAPO). In his position as Executive Director of the NAPO, he is called upon to work with the Board of Directors which is comprised of officers from around the country. Together, Johnson and the Board of Directors work to further the interests of police officers at both a national and local level.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Many local cities have associations for police officers. Nationally, there is the National Association for Police Organizations which located just outside of Washington, DC in Alexandria, VA. This organization is a non-profit organization which works with local organizations across the nation in order to bring attention to the needs and issues that surround law enforcement. NAPO also works with legislators and participates in legal advocacy as well as education for officers.

What are the top cities for Police Officer jobs?

Jobs within the police officer field can be found just about anywhere as there is always a need for officers. In fact, some areas are experiencing a shortage as some believe that officers get paid too little for the amount of work that they perform.

Large cities usually offer the highest amount of jobs and presently cities such as Chicago, Nashville, Miami, New York, Baltimore, Phoenix, and Houston offer the most job opportunities for prospective officers.

Other Careers of Interest

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Correctional Officer
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Customs Agent
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FBI Agent
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Fire Investigator
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Forensic Investigator
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Gaming Investigator
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Private Detective
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Security Guard
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