What type of education is required to begin law enforcement training?

The educational requirements to begin law enforcement training depend on the law enforcement agency you’re going to work for.  The minimal requirement for any agency is a high school diploma or GED (high school equivalency degree), but the standards are continually changing among law enforcement departments.

Some police departments now require candidates to obtain a certificate degree in criminal justice before they can begin law enforcement training. Certificate programs usually consist of 19 or 20 credit hours of course work in criminal justice, with classes in community policing, criminology, criminal law, crisis intervention, juvenile justice and court procedures.

The good news about obtaining a certificate degree before you begin law enforcement training is that it will help you tremendously in meeting the rigorous challenge of police academy.  You’ll learn many of the things in the academy curriculum, which will likely ensure that you ace the classroom portion of your training.

Although it’s not required to begin law enforcement training at the basic level, an associate’s degree in criminal justice will help you get hired by police agencies. A variety of schools offer criminal justice degrees, including community colleges and online correspondence schools. 

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field is required to begin law enforcement training in many federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.  A bachelor’s of science in criminal justice takes about four years to obtain. The degree covers things like the criminal court system, policing practices, community relations and juvenile justice. The courses are usually structured to be completed in about nine weeks. A bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice is essential for advancement from a patrol officer to advanced careers in law enforcement, including detective and supervisory positions.

If you want to ensure that you meet the requirements to begin law enforcement training, your best bet is to thoroughly research the criteria for the branch in which you want to work. Every branch of law enforcement now has a website with complete entrance requirements.



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