What are the Different Police Officer Requirements?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A police officer must receive firearms training.
A police officer must receive firearms training.

The requirements for people who wish to become police officers vary slightly by region, but they remain fairly consistent. In all cases, police departments are looking for people who are physically able to perform the duties of a police officer, and individuals who have the personality and temperament of a police officer. Most departments list their requirements in their recruitment pamphlets and websites so that applicants can determine whether or not they will be a good fit for the department.

Police officers must be proficient in the equipment, such as tasers, handcuffs, and firearms, that police officers carry while on duty.
Police officers must be proficient in the equipment, such as tasers, handcuffs, and firearms, that police officers carry while on duty.

Physical fitness is important. Police officers need to be able to pass agility tests which include running, climbing, and carrying heavy weights. They must also have good hearing and vision, and pass a medical physical which confirms that they are in good health. Many departments allow officers who require vision correction with glasses or contact lenses to serve, but their vision must be at least 20/40 without correction. Color vision is also critical for police officers.

Police officers must be able to conduct traffic stops without endangering others.
Police officers must be able to conduct traffic stops without endangering others.

Police officers must also satisfy educational requirements. A high school diploma is required, along with a two or four year degree. Some departments accept officers with a two year degree, while others prefer a four year, and attendance at a police academy is also required so that people can learn about the specifics of working in law enforcement. Some departments provide training to their officers, while others expect people to apply after they have attended the academy.

Most departments have age requirements. Typically, someone must be at least 21 when he or she applies to the department. Citizenship is also a requirement; individuals who are legally resident aliens must be able to show that they are applying for citizenship if they want to work as police officers. In some regions, applicants need a valid driver's license as well. Candidates who are bilingual are often given preference, especially in urban areas, where officers may need to work with people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

Moral fitness requirements are another key part of the spectrum. Applicants must have a clean legal history, and an attitude which suggests that they will serve the department honorably. Candidates need to pass background checks which include interviews with friends and neighbors, investigations into financial matters, and drug tests. Some things which could disqualify a potential applicant include: gambling-related debts, a lack of involvement in the community, a history of drug use, and reports of a hostile or aggressive attitude.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

anon29458

What classes I need to take?

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    • A police officer must receive firearms training.
      By: RTimages
      A police officer must receive firearms training.
    • Police officers must be proficient in the equipment, such as tasers, handcuffs, and firearms, that police officers carry while on duty.
      By: sframe
      Police officers must be proficient in the equipment, such as tasers, handcuffs, and firearms, that police officers carry while on duty.
    • Police officers must be able to conduct traffic stops without endangering others.
      By: mario beauregard
      Police officers must be able to conduct traffic stops without endangering others.