Police Officer

Here’s A Comprehensive List Of Requirements To Become A Police Officer

Police Officer Requirements

Serving as a police officer gives rewarding benefits, compensation, and a bountiful retirement pension. The salaries are sufficient, and security is higher than working in private firms as you’re working in the government – meaning bankruptcy is unlikely to happen.

However, you need to meet specific requirements to become a police officer. To give you a good idea, we have outlined specific requirements that most departments look for.

Police Officer Height Requirements

Aspiring male police officers must be at least 5 feet and 7 inches tall, while females must be at least 5 feet and 2 inches tall. However, those whose height is below the stipulated height also have a chance to qualify as they will be evaluated in various aspects.

Age Requirement for Police Officer

Each agency, department, state, and country set their own age requirements for aspiring police officers. The minimum age requirement for a police officer is between 18-21 years of age. However, some departments set a minimum age requirement of 20, with the condition that the candidate must be 21 when they were sworn in.

Meanwhile, the maximum age requirement is often based on the amount of time it would take an officer to retire with full benefits and still retire on time. For example, the compulsory retirement age is 57, so for you to retire with 20 years of service, you must start by age 37. Hence, the maximum age requirement is 37 years old. Nonetheless, some departments don’t have maximum requirements.

Police Officer Education Requirements

A high school diploma, or its equivalent, is usually the minimum requirement to become a police officer. However, some departments, especially larger ones, may require more. Although formal education is normally not required in working as a police officer, more and more departments are increasingly starting to look favorably on candidates who have a degree and are ready to undertake the higher levels of management.

Departments usually look for reading, writing, and mathematics competency at a college level. Online courses organized towards police are abundant and can serve as an excellent place to start if you have no prior college education. A complete degree in areas such as law enforcement or criminal justice may be advantageous. For those who possess a degree in other areas, a police certificate program may meet a department’s police officer education requirements. Moreover, military experience can also be used instead of a college education.

Police Officer Physical Requirements

The nature of police officers’ job often put them in danger while defending and protecting the public from criminals. That’s why police departments require aspiring officers to qualify and meet specific physical requirements. This way, on-the-job tragedies such as injuries, deaths, and officer-involved shooting accidents can be prevented.

Physical Qualifications Qualifications Tests
Vision Exists to protect officers from harm and prevent them from wrongly harming others. Moreover, this is to ensure they can provide correct information when they appear on the witness stand in court. Vision qualification does not require perfect vision, but it typically requires applicants to have 20/20 vision with correction glasses or contact lenses. Snellen vision test – examinees must correctly identify letters or numbers of varying sizes

Ishihara test – tests a person’s red-green color perception

Hearing Must have an excellent hearing to recognize vocal commands, decipher information sent from dispatch, and listen to the statements of victims and suspects. Audiometer – tests the candidate’s ability to hear sounds at different frequencies
Height and Weight Must have proportional weight-to-height measurements. Applicants who are overweight or underweight may be given a chance to correct the problem. They must lose or gain weight to meet stipulated weight standards by the end of the training sessions.
Muscular and Skeletal System Aspirants must have the ability to respond to emergencies with physical agility. Doctors will take the written health history of the applicant and look for conditions such as arthritis, missing toes, and bone abnormalities. They may also take X-rays to look for signs of misaligned joints, curvature of the spine, or dislocated vertebrae.
Circulation and Respiratory Candidates must have a healthy circulatory system, and therefore, must not have conditions such as varicose veins, hardening of the arteries, asthma, emphysema, heart murmur, irregular heartbeat, or other conditions that may affect breathing. Chest X-rays – to look for damaged or diseased lungs

Blood pressure – to determine if applicants have hypertension

Mouth, Nose, and Teeth Must not have deviated nasal septum or gum disease. Candidates with a sinus infection or strep throat may temporarily be disqualified.
Hernia and Rectum No history of hernias or rectal conditions. Candidates may be considered once the problem is resolved through surgery.
Coordination Candidates must be able to physically react to situations in a timely and coordinated manner.
Skin and Appearance Police aspirants must not have chronic skin conditions, such as severe psoriasis or eczema, and must maintain good hygiene and neat appearance.
Nervous System and Substance Candidates must not have nervous system disorders such as seizures or epilepsy, and not have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Aside from physical qualifications, police aspirants may also be required to undergo clinical tests such as urine and blood tests to detect conditions such as renal diabetes, albuminuria, cancer, venereal diseases, syphilis, or HIV. Moreover, they will also undergo physical ability tests (PATs) to qualify for the force. PATs are used to gauge the candidate’s abilities and strength and to weed out the weak ones. It consists of various tests like 75-yard pursuit run, push-ups, sit-ups, 1.5-mile run, high jumps, and chin-ups.

Police Officer Training Requirements

Aspiring police officers will also need to enroll in a nearby police academy for training. Enrollment requirements are very similar to the ones above, but may also include an entrance exam where a candidate must pass. The candidate’s physical examination records will also be listed in the academy.

Police academy training usually lasts 11 to 29 weeks and may require boarding at the campus. During the academy training, police candidates will learn about criminal and traffic laws, firearms, defensive tactics, investigative techniques, patrolling, and concepts like community policing and diversity awareness. While in the academy, additional requirements may be imposed, such as no drinking, smoking, or gambling, abiding dress codes, and keeping strict adherence to firearm safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will disqualify a person from being a police officer?

A person may be disqualified from being a police officer for the following reasons:

  • Felony or domestic violence conviction
  • Moral turpitude conviction
  • Excessive minor offenses
  • Bad driving record or no driver’s license
  • Bad work history
  • Poor written test score
  • Insufficient academic credentials
  • Poor physical fitness
  • Fraudulent application or background form
  • Disqualifying medical conditions
  • Substance abuse
  • No citizenship

Can gang members become police officers?

Chances are rare as agencies are reluctant to hire former gang members due to the possibility of their involvement in committing a series of crimes. For a former gang member to be considered as a police officer, there would have to be total severance of all gang ties and a record of commendable conduct for 5-10 years.

Can you join the police without a degree?

Although departments and agencies require you to have a degree, several local forces will allow you to be an officer with a high school diploma. However, you need to have some work experience to be hired as a police officer.