To become a police officer in the United States, you must obtain the required education, submit an application with the desired agency and complete police academy training. Additional requirements include U.S. citizenship, a clean driving record and the ability to pass a background and drug test.
- Acquire an education
In most cases, a high school diploma or GED diploma is the minimum required education to become a police officer in the United States. Some agencies may require college coursework or an associate's degree. Some agencies also may require a bachelor’s degree. Obtain a degree in one of the following programs: criminology, police science, public administration or criminal justice.
- Submit an application
The next step is to apply to become a police officer with the desired agency. After being accepted, you are placed in a pool until the next position becomes available. In many cases, the applicant must be over the age of 21.
- Complete police academy training
The final step in becoming a police officer is to attend and graduate from the agency’s police academy. Large local and state agencies offer training through their own academies, but training can be obtained at these locations for those applying to smaller agencies. Training includes education in constitutional and state laws, civil rights, local ordinances and police ethics. This education also includes training in patrol, traffic control, firearms use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.