In the United States, the specific requirements to become a police officer, depends on whether you are applying to the State government or the Federal government. The Department of Police for a specified city and state will state its requirements on its official website. The basic requirements to be a police officer in the United States includes:
- The applicant must be a United States Citizen, plus must fulfill some domicile conditions that are stated by the police department.
- The person must be an adult, and in some cases, must have completed at least 20 years of age.
- The 3rd condition is to pass the written and physical exam, consisting of general aptitude, EQ, IQ, height, vision and general fitness.
- Minimum educational qualification is a high school diploma, or in some cases, a graduate-associate degree.
Academic Qualifications Required
Police departments and academies often take up recruits right out of school, based upon their general aptitude, IQ, and physical fitness. The educational qualifications do not matter a lot, the only requisite being that the person must be a diploma holder. These recruits are then put through intensive training for combat and law enforcement.
Often considered to be the cream of physically fit and combat capable cops, these recruits later become patrol specialists, special response teams, anti-terror squads, and SWAT units, and are also generally referred to as the 'really tough guys'.
The second type of entry stream is after college education where bachelor and associate degrees are used to recruit cadets. In case you aspire to become a homicide detective or want a rise in hierarchy, then you can take up majors accordingly.
Criminal justice, forensic sciences, chemistry, human anatomy, law enforcement, study of certain specialized technologies such as finger printing, weapons and ballistics, expertise in criminal psychology, and expertise in other unique sciences, such as study of certain crimes, can earn you a good channel in the force.
Please note that recruitment and selection procedures often tend to vary as per departments, states, and also the requirement.
The Police Academy
Most police academies are set up, managed, or monitored by state governments. Federal agencies also have set up their own academies and training centers. The intensive training that involves combat, emergency preparedness, physical training, self-defense, first aid procedures, and weapons training is given in such academies.
In Florida, for example, the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission provides appropriate training to their recruits, while in Maryland, the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission does the same. The police training officer program is a post academy program that is implemented in some departments and is more educational in approach.
Apart from a regular cop, you have several other options, like Military Police, Troopers, Marshall Service, more specialized branches, such as FBI and CIA, or even transit police. The requirements differ from department to deportment, hence, it is better to take a look at the official website of the department to get some concrete leads and guidance.