How to qualify for a job in law enforcement

The first step in figuring out how to qualify for a job in law enforcement is to identify your target employment.  This is because the qualifications for these jobs depend largely on the branch of law enforcement, as well as the particular job description.  Every agency has its own employment requirements, so the first step is to narrow down whether you want to work at the federal, state or local level.  There are patrol officers, detectives, field officers, supervisors, technicians and support people in a wide range of local, state and federal agencies and each has its own qualifications.

In order to qualify for a job in law enforcement as a patrol officer with a local police force, you must be at least 20 years of age.  The maximum age for employment is 35. You must also be a citizen of the U.S. and have a high school diploma or a GED.  Some local police departments have a minimum educational requirement for patrol officers of a high school diploma, but others require an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. If you meet the initial criteria for acceptance at the entry level, the next requirement is to complete police academy training. This training is rigorous and occurs over a period of 12 to 14 weeks.  It consists of classroom and field training, and is the last part of the requirement to qualify for a job in law enforcement at this level.

If you want to qualify for a job in law enforcement as a detective for a local police force, the first step is to become a patrol officer.  You must carry out your duties as a patrol officer satisfactorily for a period of time before you can take the test to move up to the position of detective. Most police departments require you to have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and many want you to have a bachelor’s degree before you’ll be considered for advancement up the ladder from patrol officer to detective or supervisor. The more education you have, the better are your chances for moving up the ladder in a job in law enforcement.

If you want to qualify for a job in law enforcement at the federal level, you should check with the individual agency to find out their criteria for employment. Generally, the qualifications for federal jobs are higher and the competition is more intense, so the more education and experience you have, the higher the odds that you’ll garner a position with the agency.

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