What Are the Qualifications to Become a Police Officer?


Quick Answer

Most police departments require applicants be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver's licence, be a legal citizen or resident alien, and have a minimum of a high school diploma. Some also impose a fitness test and check the applicant's criminal and financial records.

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Full Answer

Some police departments enforce a maximum age for new officers, though this varies between locations and positions. As police officers need to operate squad cars as part of the daily duties, applicants must have a driver's licence and a clean driving record; any convictions for reckless driving or operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol disqualify the candidate. Similarly, most police departments disqualify applicants with felony convictions as well as misdemeanor convictions for certain crimes, such as sexual assault or domestic abuse.

Applying for a position as a police offer typically also requires a high school diploma or equivalent certification, with some jurisdictions increasing the education needs to include a bachelor's degree or minimum number of college credits in a relevant field. After a candidate applies, she must also pass a physical and mental evaluation to ensure she is fit to handle the demands of the job. She also needs to attend and pass a training camp that includes various written exams.

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