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Working as a Police Officer

People who are driven to help our society become more civil, and feel a sense of duty to protect others, should consider a career as a police officer. We only have to look at the news for a few minutes to find real life examples of how dangerous the job of a police officer can be. From the time we start playing cops and robbers as children, we understand that it's not easy to enforce the law, and sometimes it's dangerous. Each shift begins with the knowledge that anything could happen. It takes a special type of courage, respect, and skill to be successful as a police officer. That's why we need to keep filling the ranks of our police departments with quality officers. 

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"Should I become a cop?" you might be asking yourself. If you are considering a career as a police officer, you already know the risks involved. So here are some other things you'll need to know about police officer training, pay, and charting your course towards this career…

"How hard is it to become a cop?" is another common question.

The first thing you're probably wondering is how to meet the educational requirements to apply for police jobs. Your first step is a degree in criminal justice. You'll most likely need to complete a bachelor's level program before moving on to the police academy training. Your undergraduate level education will give you a comprehensive, and holistic view of the field of law enforcement. This will include ethics, forensic science, cyber crimes, and other areas that relate to criminal and civil law.

Police academy training is where you develop and refine your core skillset, and get your best rookie cop tips. This is where you'll learn how to act and respond to a wide variety of high-pressure situations. Many of these programs are between 500-600 hours of curriculum approved by your state's commission. This training will include community relations, civil disorder, vehicle stops, building searches, and more. One thing you'll learn in training is the need for paperwork in police roles. It's not all catching bad guys and feeling like a hero. Like most jobs, police work can contain mundane tasks.

The starting pay for police officers is around $60,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also reports that demand for these police officer and detective positions can vary by geographic location. You'll want to check with your local job listings and colleges to examine the jobs picture in your area. However, if you train to become a police officer, there are still a variety of career paths no matter where you live.

There are many reasons for becoming a police officer that involve additional career opportunities and advancement. Individuals with training can explore a variety of career paths in police work. We need police in the cities, rural areas, on the highways, as well as private security guards and other related positions. Sometimes, police officers decide they want to move into other areas of law enforcement. The skills they acquire working under immense pressure qualify many officers for higher-level positions, such as Sheriff or Chief of Police.

If you are thinking of becoming a cop and need to earn your undergraduate education in criminal justice to become a police officer, use our directory of schools in your area to get started. Their advisors can help you get a better picture of the current job picture for officers in your area. They can also help you connect with police academy training that has experience with their criminal justice graduates.