How Hard is it to Become a Police Officer?

Similar to the period of time needed, the level of difficulty will vary from person to person and department to department.

Essentially, an applicant who has trained to be in good shape, did not commit misdemeanors or felonies, is emotionally balanced and of good morals will have a high chance of getting admitted into the police academy and/or police department.

All candidates will need to undergo a scrupulous medical, physical, polygraph, psychological examinations, drug screening and personality profiling. However, each state will choose the admission criteria based on several factors relevant for that region.

Even though each state established its own eligibility criteria, there are some admission procedure similarities.

For instance, obtaining a minimum score of 70% at the physical fitness agility standards test is mandatory for being admitted in a police academy, regardless of the state.

In general, the common physical activities that the candidates must perform in a timely manner (and according to their gender and age) include push-ups, sit-ups, 1.5 mile run and swimming. However, some states or certain police departments might include other physical tests based on data gathered from criminal statistics in that region.

Do I Need a Degree?

More and more law enforcement agencies right now require candidates to have a college degree although some agencies may only require at least 60 hours of higher education course work.

Federal law enforcement agencies like the Secret Service will lean towards applicants that have a graduate degree.

In most cases a Criminal Justice degrees will be enough, but other agencies would prefer candidates with degrees not related to police work such as IT and Accounting. It is also a big plus if you are multilingual.

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