How to Become a Federal Police Officer

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

The prerequisites for becoming a federal police officer are a lot like that of a state-level police officer, but with more education. Federal police officers investigate a variety of criminal activity and there are many different departments you can work for, including the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Central Intelligence Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration or the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives division.

Have the desire to become a federal police officer. Before pursuing the career path to becoming a federal police officer, you must have the desire to serve your country.You shouldn’t become a police officer just because your father or grandfather did it. It will require much time, training and travel. Be sure it is a career you want to pursue.

Meet the basic requirements. You must be a U.S. citizen and older than 20. You cannot be a convicted felon.

Earn a college degree. You must have a college degree to become a federal police officer. Many federal police officers earn their undergraduate degree in criminal justice. This degree will help you gain detailed knowledge of federal laws and regulations. It is also helpful to be physically fit and have a knowledge of a foreign language. Many agencies will pay all or most of the tuition for a police officer to earn a degree in criminal justice.

Pass the examinations. You must pass several written and physical examinations before you are able to become a federal police officer. You must then be accepted by a law enforcement agency.

Attend a police academy. Once you’ve been accepted by a law enforcement agency, you will attend a police academy for 12 to 14 weeks, where you will receive police training inside and outside the classroom. Classroom instruction includes accident investigation, constitutional law and civil rights, and state laws and local ordinances. You will also receive training in self-defense, first aid and emergency response, firearms usage, traffic control and patrol training.

Apply for a position. Once you have completed your police training and have your undergraduate degree in criminal justice, apply for a position with one of the federal departments, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug Enforcement Administration. Include experience and any foreign language you speak on your resume.

Be prepared to travel with little notice for investigations. You may need to relocate every so often for new investigations. Enjoy your job and help those around you. It may be stressful, but don’t give up and do your best.


Knowledge of a foreign language will make you more competitive among other federal police officers.