How do I Become a Patrol Officer?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2018
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In most places, a person who wants to become a patrol officer has to be at least 18 years old, or the minimum age that is considered an adult in that particular region. In fact, some jurisdictions require patrol officers to be at least 20 years old. A person pursuing this field may also have to be a citizen of the country in which he is applying and have a valid driver’s license. Depending on the specifics of the job for which he is applying, he’ll usually need a high school diploma and may need a college education as well. Additionally, an individual interested in this career is expected to have a clear criminal history.

The term patrol officer is often used to describe a police officer. This type of policeman typically patrols or monitors a specific area, ensuring that no criminal, or even questionable, acts are afoot. These officers typically wear uniforms and badges while patrolling and are armed. There are different types of patrol officers, however, ranging from those who work for a local police department to those who patrol a country's borders or work for national law enforcement agencies, such as the Secret Service in the United States.


In most places, a person who wants to become a patrol officer has to take both written and physical examinations, proving he is fit for the job. He will typically have an interview as well, which may take place with a senior law enforcement officer or in front of a whole panel of officers. Additionally, a person interested in this field may have to submit to a psychological examination.

An individual who wants to become a patrol officer will usually have to submit to a background and criminal history check as well. Some law enforcement agencies may even check an applicant’s credit history. Besides such checks, some organizations may also interview an applicant’s former employers and acquaintances. The hiring department will likely verify the information the aspiring officer included on his application as part of this process.

Most jurisdictions require a person who wants to become a patrol officer to attend a law enforcement academy. This may take a few months to complete, allowing the aspiring officer enough time to learn the basics of the law enforcement job he’s seeking. After graduating from the academy, he may then participate in field training that specifically prepares him for the department for which he works. Finally, he may complete a probationary period of working for a law enforcement agency before his acceptance as a permanent employee.



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