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Although state police departments and federal agencies require you to have a college education, many local police forces will allow you to become a police officer from high school. Prepare for you police career early by taking high school courses in psychology, sociology, government, and social studies. You should also participate in sports and other physical activities so that you stay in good shape and learn to work as part of a team.
Get work experience. Without a college education, you will need to have some work experience to be hired as a police officer. Even part-time and summer jobs will show that you have a strong work ethic, are reliable, and can work as part of a team.
Make sure you have good credit. Police officers must have a good credit score. For young police recruits, this is often an obstacle since they haven't had the opportunity to build credit. If you are considering a law enforcement career straight out of high school, open a bank account and ask your parent or guardian if they will add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards.
Take the preliminary written exam. Before you can begin training to become a police officer, you will need to pass a written exam that tests aptitude and basic knowledge.
Pass the physical exam. After you take your written test, you will need to complete a physical exam that will test your eyesight, hearing, agility, and speed.
Have a psychological examination. You will need to have a psychological exam administered by a licensed psychiatrist before you can become a police officer. This will test your ability to handle life-threatening situations and remain calm under pressure.
Have a clean background. If you have criminal convictions for drugs, drinking and driving, or violence crimes, you may be disqualified as a police candidate. You will also need to pass a polygraph tests, during which you will be asked about drug use and other criminal activities.
Attend the police academy. If you pass all the tests and background checks, you will be admitted to the police academy, which takes anywhere from three to four months to complete.
Apply to the agency of your choice. Once you have graduated from the police academy, you may apply to the police department of your choice. You will need to submit a resume, cover letter, and proof of your background check and police academy training. The police chief and human resources department will also interview you to make sure you are a good fit for the department.
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