Skip to main content

How to Become a Police Officer

Police officers do dangerous, stressful work for little pay. To join the force you need to develop character and a clear vision about service to others.


  • Step 1: Graduate high school Get a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Step 2: Meet requirements Ask about requirements at local police departments. Most departments want candidates to be at least 20-years old and American citizens.
  • Step 3: Maintain a clean record Avoid criminal convictions or a dishonorable discharge from the military.
  • TIP: Treatment for mental illness, use of drugs or alcohol, traffic violations, or falsifying information can disqualify you.
  • Step 4: Get hands-on experience Participate in a "ride-along" program to get hands-on experience and a chance to ask questions. You will witness on-the-job stress and demands.
  • Step 5: Pass exams and polygraph Prepare for the application process with study guides and take the civil service exam. You must also pass polygraph and personality tests.
  • TIP: Some departments have instituted requirements on body fat percentage, so eat healthy and stay fit.
  • Step 6: Develop writing skills Practice clear writing skills. Aside from fighting crime, a police officer’s most important task is writing clear, objective, and accurate reports.
  • Step 7: Interview for the job Interview with a senior officer, who will be evaluating character. After that, you're ready to protect and serve!
  • FACT: Did you know? As of 2009, the median income for a patrol officer was $49,630 a year.

You Will Need

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A clean record
  • Sound values
  • Physical stamina
  • Writing skills
  • Military service (optional) (optional)

Popular Categories