How to Become a Police Officer in Tennessee

Students interested in becoming a police officer in Tennessee should make sure they meet the basic requirements for employment. Essentially, this implies having a valid class D driver’s license, at least 20/100 visual acuity, American citizenship, a clean record, a high school diploma or equivalent and be at least 21 years old when applying.

However, it is necessary to mention that applying for a law enforcement position in one of Tennessee’s metropolitan police departments entails slightly higher prerequisites than other states.

For instance, candidates hunting for a job at the Memphis Police Department should ensure they meet minimum requirements such as any of the following options:

  • Minimum 54 completed college hours at an accredited university/community college
  • At least 2 years of military service completed with an honorable discharge
  • 3 years+ of continuous employment as a POST officer in a police department with minimum 20 other officers

Required Paperwork to Become a Police Officer in Tennessee

Because the application process can sometimes take up to 9 months, students should make sure that they send in the correct documents, as requested by the police departments and academies of their choice.

At the same time, in most Tennessee cities, applications sent without all the requested paperwork will be considered incomplete and will not be processed.

The documents (legible copies) include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Vehicle operator license
  • Social security card
  • GED or high school diploma
  • An Authority to Release Information Form

Additional Application Requirements in Becoming a Police Officer in Tennessee

After successfully passing the physical ability testing and the written examinations, candidates will need to undergo an interview conducted by a panel of the police department members.

Besides the interview, candidates will be scheduled to complete:

  • A polygraph examination
  • A physical examination performed by a physician approved by the hiring police department
  • A psychological examination with a minimum score of 90 on the intelligence portion

If all of the aforementioned phases are passed successfully, then the candidate will need an approval for employment from the Chief of Police and the City Administrator.

Firearms Training

All new recruits will receive firearms training immediately after their successful application. However, it is necessary to underline that unless the recruit successfully completes the firearms training and obtains qualification for carrying a pistol or shotgun, they are forbidden to carry weapons on and off duty.

At the same time, Tennessee police officers are subjected to various weapons’ training courses in order to maintain their proficiency with the firearms they have selected. Lastly, the recruits should not present allergic reactions and be able to tolerate the chemical mace compounds used by the hiring police department.

Requirements of the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy

You will have two options:

  1. Be employed full time as a certified police officer or…
  2. Be a senior in an accredited college or university, majoring in a criminal justice related course and you should be recommended by your counselor.

Academy Training

If a recruit meets all of the aforementioned prerequisites, then the hiring police department will send him/her for police officer basic training at either the police academy in Donelson or Memphis.

The training period is of 21 weeks; a time during which cadets will learn a variety of subjects useful for their future job, such as defensive tactics, principles of investigation, criminal law, police vehicle operations, etc. Upon graduation from the academy, the recruits will be assigned to the hiring police departments and receive additional training on the job for the next year.


For more information on becoming a police officer in Tennessee, visit the Tennessee law enforcement training academy website or call (615) 741-4448.

Click here to check out the various police officer jobs in Tennessee.

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