How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer?

Regardless of age or current employment, many people want to work as police officers in the future. 

If you meet the age requirements of the agency you want to work for, you can begin this career immediately after graduation or at a later point in your life. 

As a police officer, you have the opportunity to give back to your community in a variety of ways. 

For example, police officers are often the first to arrive at scenes of robberies, domestic violence, and other crimes. 

They also patrol the streets to keep peace, catch criminals, and assist citizens in emergencies and other dire situations.

Depending on the candidate’s training, experience, and preparedness for development, there are numerous opportunities for career growth.

However, being a police officer is not something that can be done overnight. 

The majority of agencies demand additional education beyond high school graduation, there is training once you are hired, and the hiring process itself is time-consuming. 

So how long does it take to become a police officer? 

The department you wish to join, their particular training methods and requirements, as well as your career goals, all play a role in the answer. 

Yet, by looking at how long it takes to complete five of the essential steps to becoming a police officer, you may get a general notion of how much time you need to commit in following this career path.

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What is a Police School Like?

A Police School is a training facility that prepares applicants to work as police officers. 

These institutes provide equal emphasis on the academic and practical sides of police service. 

Similar to a military basic training school, police academies subject candidates to physically and mentally demanding schedules in an effort to develop disciplined officers who can handle the tasks of the police force.

Upon acceptance into a police academy, you’ll participate in lectures and hands-on training where you’ll learn about state laws, criminal investigations, patrol techniques, firearms teaching, traffic management, and more. 

Expect to spend nearly every minute of the day either learning, exercising, or doing both because the police academy is designed to be a rigorous learning environment. 

For an academy recruit residing on campus in a dorm, a typical day may look like this:

  • At 5 a.m., be awake. 
  • consume breakfast 
  • Train physically and eat lunch 
  • Attend educational sessions 
  • eat dinner 
  • Study 
  • Fall asleep at ten o’clock.

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Is Attending a Police School Worth It?

Increasing your prospects in a field that is getting more competitive is one of the most alluring reasons for law enforcement workers to pursue further education. 

You shouldn’t let this be your only motivation for going to school. 

An associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree has various advantages that can improve your general ability to carry out your job responsibilities.

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1. Greater awareness and Comprehension

Police work is a meticulous and challenging line of job. 

Continuing your education in a relevant profession might help you become more knowledgeable and adept at your job. 

It may result in a deeper comprehension of the rules, practices, theories, and ideas that will enhance your performance as a law enforcement officer. 

The more familiar you are with topics like civil rights, hate crimes, federal, state, and municipal law, as well as contemporary problems confronting public servants and law enforcement personnel, the easier it will be for you to relate to the general public and carry out your duties.

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2. Expand Your Viewpoint

You’ll be exposed to a wide range of people and viewpoints if you take classes at a college or university. 

If you keep an open mind, it will help you gain new perspectives and see issues and concepts from other perspectives. 

Even if you disagree with some of the ideas and viewpoints you encounter, hearing those viewpoints and arguments can still help you better understand how you and the individuals you interact with on a daily basis both view the world. 

This viewpoint will improve your ability to listen and serve the public.

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3. Promotional Possibilities

You want every advantage you can get when it comes time to develop your career. 

Today’s work market is exceedingly difficult and competitive in all industries. 

Your job performance will undoubtedly come up when your bosses are trying to promote someone. 

However, they will also take into account whether you have improved through further or higher education. 

When prospects for promotion present themselves, the more schooling you possess, the better you will appear. 

Having a degree will undoubtedly put you ahead of the competition!

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What Schooling Do You Need to Be a Police Officer?

If the organization they want to work for permits it, prospective police officers have the option of starting their careers immediately after high school or continuing their education and earning a degree before entering the forces of law enforcement. 

In general, agencies require a high school diploma or an equivalent for entry-level positions, but recently, most departments have started requiring an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. 

The educational requirements to become a police officer vary by state and by department.

Additionally, if you want to advance your career and eventually work for a federal law enforcement organization, it is preferable to devote some time to study before applying for a law enforcement position. 

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field connected to law enforcement, and maybe a master’s degree, should be available from police officers who choose to work in more specialized divisions or who wish to advance in their careers. 

The amount of education an officer has also has an impact on their pay. 

The good news is that you can begin working as a police officer and then go on to earn a degree online or while attending school part-time.

Whatever course of study you decide to do, the following information will generally give you the time needed to earn a law enforcement degree that will be useful to your career:

  • If you choose to finish a full-time traditional program, it typically takes two years to get an associate’s degree. By enrolling in more or fewer classes, it is possible to speed up or slow down the procedure. Additionally, you can study online for an associate’s degree.
  • If you enroll in a standard on-campus program, it will take you four years to complete your bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. There are two options for finishing the program: taking the maximum number of classes and doing so in three and a half years, or taking fewer classes and doing it in roughly five and a half. Depending on your tastes, you can choose from a wide range of online law enforcement degrees.
  • Typically, two or three years are needed to finish a master’s degree in law enforcement. Depending on your schedule, resources, and obligations at work or home, you can select between on-campus and online versions.
  • A doctorate in law enforcement typically takes four to five years to complete. A Ph.D. is another option that may be obtained online and takes between 2.5 and 4 years to finish.
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Therefore, it is inferred that it takes four years to complete the educational requirements for the position because the bachelor’s degree is one of the most popular programs pursued by prospective police officers.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Police Officer?

Depending on the situation and the timeframe, being a police officer may take a certain amount of time. 

You will need to wait until you reach the required age if you are 18 and your state needs police officers to be 19 or 21. 

Before you can apply for a job, you might also need to pass a civil service exam. 

In some states, these exams are only offered once a year or every other year. 

You will also need to wait until you can fulfill the standards if your police department wants candidates to have a certain level of college education or to have lived in the area for a certain period of time prior to applying.

Therefore, you might have to wait for that window of time to open because police departments sometimes only hire and offer training during specific seasons of the year.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Police Officer?

Open registrants must pay a participation fee to the police academy, which can be between $3,000 and $5,500. 

Additionally, candidates must supply their own tools, including a gun. 

The good news is that upon employing you, some police departments may pay back some of the cost of your training. 

If the company that hires you provides this option, make sure to investigate it and take use of it.

Salary and Job Outlook for Police Officers after Study

Over the coming years, there won’t likely be a rapid increase in the demand for police personnel. 

In comparison to other jobs, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of police officers and detectives will barely expand by 7% between 2010 and 2020. 

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Given that many police departments only hire people who live in that city, town, or county, and given that the hiring needs of your local police department depend on its budget and current staff, your job chances may be constrained by your geographic location. 

However, some law enforcement agencies merely demand that new hires establish residency.

If you have a college degree or military experience, your chances of landing a job may be better than those of other candidates. 

To help you prepare before applying, several police departments post sample tests and physical fitness standards.

Those who successfully complete the officer recruitment and training procedure have a variety of career options and specialized options. 

There are extremely particular salary levels and rankings within police departments. 

Police officers can advance to the positions of detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain by acquiring experience and receiving additional training. 

There are options to focus on various facets of police service, such as narcotics, gang activity, traffic, community relations, or training, at each rank. 

In some circumstances, acquiring a degree or finishing college courses is necessary for progress.

Furthermore, in 2010, the median annual salary for all police officers and detectives in the US was $55,010. 

When taken separately, police and sheriff’s patrol officers received a median salary of $53,540, while detectives and criminal investigators earned a median salary of $68,820.


In conclusion, Police officers are expected to achieve and maintain certain certifications and licenses, such as those relating to firearms, CPR, and basic first aid. 

Beyond the minimum certifications, there will be numerous opportunities for police officers to obtain additional credentials. 

These can include credentials in management, special weapons and tactics training, crime scene investigation techniques and arson investigation. 

Many certifications and special training regimens will be department or region-specific.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is maintaining a police officer’s personal life difficult? 

Police officers frequently work long hours, unpredictable shifts, nights, and holidays, and they may also be on call, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
As a result, chances to establish and strengthen enduring bonds with family and friends are lost.

What does a police fitness test entail? 

Not an Olympic athlete, the fitness test is meant to see whether you have the endurance required to be a police officer. 
It entails a multi-stage shuttle run, sometimes referred to as the “bleep test,” which measures your aerobic capacity physically (stamina).

Does it make sense to join the police? 

You’ll have the opportunity to truly impact your neighborhood by lowering crime rates and enhancing public safety. 
However, being a police officer isn’t for everyone because it’s one of the most difficult occupations you may pursue due to its high physical, mental, and emotional demands.

Do police officers enjoy their work? 

The level of contentment among police officers is around average. 
At CareerExplorer, we regularly poll millions of people to find out how happy they are with their jobs. 
It turns out that police officers are in the top 50% of jobs for career happiness, scoring 3.2 out of 5 stars.

What kind of schedule do police officers have? 

Police officers that work full-time often put in 40 hours of duty each week, divided into eight-hour shifts. 
However, because they offer a 24-hour public service, working odd hours, working shifts, and responding to emergencies are all common aspects of the job.



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