The exact requirements to be a police chief may vary by area as the chief is selected by a representative of local government, such as the mayor. However, the positive is very competitive, and it helps prospective applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field as well as many years of law enforcement experience demonstrating both a diversity of experience and a history of solid leadership.
Police chief job openings are highly competitive, with many individuals applying from both within the department, within the area, and from those within other cities. Because of this, a bachelor's degree in a field relevant to law enforcement can help give prospective applicants an edge over some of their competitors. Such relevant fields include criminal investigation, psychology and public administration.
While those chosen for police chief positions typically have much law enforcement experience, there are multiple pathways to gain such experience. This may include patrols, investigations and administrative tasks. Demonstrating skill in these areas is vital for obtaining promotions such as sergeant, lieutenant and captain. While not a strict requirement to be chosen by local government, police chiefs chosen are typically those with many years of experience in these subordinate ranks. Some areas have fewer ranks than others, which may afford the opportunity to ascend the ranks and become police chief much sooner.