Top Criminal Justice Schools
- Strayer University Online Click for Recommended Degree Program
- Liberty University Online Click for Recommended Degree Program
- Colorado Technical University Click for Recommended Degree Program
How to Become a Cop
Many people who want to know how to become a cop have been attracted to the occupation since they were children, often inspired by television shows or family history. A career in law enforcement is both rewarding and at times dangerous. Every police officer will attest, however, the positive influence you have in making your city or town safer definitely outweighs the possible danger.
How to Become a Cop: Career Options
Every police department requires at least a General Education Diploma, known commonly as a GED, or a high school diploma. Most departments now also require the applicant to have a college degree, preferably in a field related to law enforcement, such as an online degree in Criminology or Police Science. Those applicants with a degree at the bachelor level often have priority over those with an associate degree, but even that two-year online education is highly preferred over only a high school diploma.
Uniformly, applicants must be physically fit, exercise sound judgment in high-stress training scenarios and pass the career training course at a police academy.
If you are or were a member of the military police and are looking at becoming a cop in the civilian world, you are in luck. Many police departments waive the education requirement in lieu of your experience. You must, however, still pass the Academy course and the written application exam.
Not all police officers patrol beats or arrest suspects. While some police departments contract civilians to fill critical support roles, such as forensics or computer investigators, the number of departments that require bona fide police officers in these positions is increasing.
If you are drawn to these and related support roles, contact the preferred police academy for possible departments that require a badge in their forensic or computer labs. You could also contact the police departments directly.
To qualify for these elite positions, your degree must be in the applicable specialty field. You must still meet all requirements for uniformed police officers.
How to Become a Cop: Education Requirements
As stated above, most law enforcement positions require the applicant to already have a college degree. The most closely related curricula are offline or online courses in Criminal Justice or Police Science.
Criminal Justice entails the study of law enforcement in its entirety—from police officers to the courts to proceedings and punishment to correctional institutions.
Police Science approaches the subject from a slightly different direction. While still encompassing many of the same aspects as a Criminal Justice degree, a Police Science degree may explore law enforcement theory, administrative skills and behavioral sciences, for example.
Additionally, having educational credits in psychology or sociology may boost an applicant’s chances of acceptance.
Police officers can, with the right qualifications, background, experience and desire, earn promotions into the detective ranks as well as advanced positional rankings, such as a police sergeant, lieutenant or higher. The competition for advancement is extremely tough, however. You must have degrees higher than a bachelors to realistically hope to advance in your chosen field.
Choose your degree and get started! Since you now know how to become a cop and how to become a police officer, you can now make a real difference in the world.