Do you have a heart to stop crime and protect the innocent? Would you like to make a difference in the world, and serve your community? Then becoming a police officer might be the right career for you.

In this article we will explore the path to becoming a police officer. We will look at what a cop actually does for a living, and the many types of work it entails. We will also answer some of the most common questions, like:

  • How many years does it take to become a police officer?
  • Do you get paid to go to the police academy?
  • What qualifications do I need to be a police officer in NZ, Australia, UK and USA?
  • What are the steps in becoming a police officer?
  • How much does a police officer make?
police officer cop law
The job of a police officer is to enforce the law. It’s a fantastic and very flexible career of making a difference in the world.

What is the job of a police officer?

A police officer, also sometimes referred to as a cop, sergeant, policeman or law enforcement officer, performs the following activities as part of their job:

  • Reduce crime by enforcing the law of society
  • Helps make society safe and secure
  • Support and protect citizens
  • Investigate and look for suspicious activity
  • Perform arrests of people who break the law
  • Handle, and if necessary use, deadly weapons
  • Communicate with citizens and solve complaints and problems
  • Can witness in court cases
  • Administrative tasks such as writing reports etc.

The job of a police officer often means working odd hours and long shifts. However in administrative functions, it can also be a 9-5 job.

How to become a police officer

An education through a police academy is required to become a police officer. This opens op a wide range of career options. The steps to becoming a police officer are:

  • Learn about the field of law enforcement. You might discover what path best suits your particular interest.
  • Be a citizen of the country
  • Have a valid drivers license and a clean criminal record
  • Be at least 17-21 years old depending on the state and country
  • Obtain a high school diploma
  • Pass the law enforcement entrance exam. Test requirements vary depending on academy and jurisdiction.
  • Physical requirements are tough and you will pass tests. Obesity and handicaps might disqualify you.
  • Train in and graduate from police academy. The length of police academy training varies from country to country, but you will typically be ready in an entry law enforcement position within about 1 year, perhaps slightly more. In many academies, you will hit the streets in less than 6 months.
  • With experience, you can then advance through a great variety of job opportunities in law enforcement.
  • A bachelor’s degree might be required for more advanced law enforcement positions such as working in the FBI

A police officer is almost surely guaranteed employment. They typically make 55-65.000$ per year.

Areas of study and career options

Police officers come in many types. This also means that the areas of study differ greatly.

You will learn about laws, local ordinances, constitutional law, civil rights, and investigating accidents. You will also learn traffic control, emergency responce, self-defense, first-aid and handling and shooting firearms.

Police officers can make a career in areas like traffic police, Motorcycle police, K-9 units, plainclothes officer, highway patriol, customs, special jurisdiction, investigations, national intelligence, SWAT, special tactics and Criminal justice.

You can climb the ladder as officer, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and chief, depending on local structure.

police officer cop law
Handling firearms is part of police work. Special forces use more advanced weapons.

Recommended links

More you can become