Are you looking into becoming a police officer? We are here to help. It is important to gather information before getting started on the process. Unfortunately, each state has their own application process. That being said, they all follow the same general guidelines. The recruitment process can take months so getting a head start is super important and understanding a bit more about the hiring process timeline is essential. Here is a step by step breakdown of the police officer hiring process.
What Do You Do as a Police Officer?
As a uniformed officer your top priority is to keep the public safe. This can include a variety of different positions:
- Police Chief
- Police Officer
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Evidence Technician
- Victim Advocate
- School Resource Officer
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Police Officer?
Before embarking on the lengthy police hiring process make sure you meet the following requirements:
- U.S citizen
- Residency (some departments require that you live within a certain distance of the department)
- Valid driver's license
- Age requirement (this differs from state to state but usually falls between the 18-35 range)
- Highschool Diploma/ G.E.D
- 20/20 Vision
- Clean Criminal Record
What Is the Salary for a Police Officer?
Keep in mind that a lot of different factors go into determining what your salary will be including; experience, location, job type, education and other skills (e.g. multiple languages.) In 2019 the average annual salary for a police officer is $65,170. With the top earning officers making salaries over $110,00. Often the pay scale for your department will be public information so try doing a search for your specific location.
Police Officer Hiring Process
Step 1: Submit an Application
You will need to submit an application. Depending on the state this may either be done online or as a written application form. Make sure you have all of your personal information handy to make this process go smoother. It is important to know that some states will have you take the police written exam before you even submit an application. This way if you don't score well you don't even need to go through the lengthy application process.
Step 2: Police Written Test
Every department has a different hiring process but they ALL require you to sit for a police exam. This entry police test will include reading comprehension and writing. Depending on the police department some exams will include sections that deal with on-the-job application, math sections, and map skills questions.
Take a look at this police officer practice test.
Step 3: Police Physical Ability Test
What is great about being a police officer is that it is a dynamic career. This includes A LOT of physical work. The police fitness test will assess your ability to complete physically demanding tasks. The test will include a variety of physical exercises including some of the following; sit-ups, bench pressing, pull-ups, and running. Depending on which department you apply for expect to see different physical challenges. In some departments you will take the physical and written test on the same day.
Learn about what the police fitness test consists of for your department.
Step 4: Background Check
Obviously, having a clean background is essential for becoming a law enforcement provider. Each department will review your background in their own way. Some will ask you to fill out a report, others will conduct an investigation. Be prepared to have them look into your employment, military, criminal, and civil history. They will even look at your credit score. Be ready for someone to reach out to coworkers, family members, or neighbors for an interview. Again, this step might be done before or after your interview depending on the department.
Step 5: Oral Interview
In this oral board you will be interviewed by a board of officers. Expect to face at least three police officers of different ranks. The board will be measuring how you present yourself, how you do under pressure, and overall how you compose yourself. They will present you with different potential law enforcement scenarios and assess how you answer the questions. Keep in mind that your answer is not always the most important part. There is a lot of stress involved with being a police officer, the panel is really looking to see how you handle stressful situations.
Step 6: Polygraph Test
A polygraph test is another name for a lie detector test. Honesty is one of the most important qualities of a police officer. This test is given by a trained examiner and you will be tested on your truthfulness. It is a good sign if you make it to this point! Set aside a few hours for this test. The most important part of this test is telling the TRUTH even if the answer is not desirable. So if you ask yourself "how do you pass the police polygraph test?" you are looking at it the wrong way. There is no right or wrong answer. It is HOW honest your answer is.
Inside tip; what is asked on the polygraph test can differ each time but the test questions will often come from your background report.
Step 7: Psychological Evaluation
This is a two part process which involves an interview with a trained psychologist and a psychological test. The psychological test is in essence a personality test. It is designed to see if you have the quality traits needed to become a police officer. As one of the final steps of the hiring process you want to make sure you know what to expect.
Learn more and take a look at this police psychological exam practice test.
Step 8: Medical Exam and Drug Test
Wahoo you made it! As one of the final steps you will be examined by a trained doctor to make sure you are medically fit for the job. In some departments they will also give a drug test.
Step 9: You will Get a Job Offer
As you can see this was a lengthy hiring process. If it wasn't obvious before, embarking on a career as a police officer is not for the light hearted. But, there are few careers which are as rewarding as a career in law enforcement.