How to Become a Cop
When you become a cop you can look forward to a job that will offer you a lot of variety, as well as the opportunity to give something back to your community. To succeed in this role, you'll need to have excellent interpersonal skills, good attention to detail, and an interest in criminal justice.
Education Requirements to Become a Cop
To become a cop you will need your high school diploma, as a minimum. While it's possible to get a job with this alone, most cops have some kind of post high school education. The best pathway is to take a four year bachelor degree with a focus on criminal justice. This will give you a good knowledge base in areas of the law, and prepare you for your career. It's also possible to attend community college, and complete a similar qualification there.
The best way to become a cop is to complete this some kind of degree program. Without it, you may find yourself limited to entry level jobs, and find career progression difficult.
You'll need to be twenty years old in most states to become a cop and US citizenship is essential. You'll also need to take a written examination which will test your aptitude, then if approved, further medical and physical tests. Most states will also require you to undergo psychological screening as well.
Cop Job Description
There is no typical day of work for a cop, and no all encompassing job description. This is part of what attracts many people to this kind of work. It's likely that you'll find within your role, that no day is ever the same. Here are some of the tasks you might find yourself completing as an entry level cop, police office, or state trooper.
- Answering phones
- Answering enquiries in station
- Traffic Patrol
- Street Patrol
- Responding to reports of violence
- Responding to reports of break-ins
- Analyzing dangerous situations
- Problem solving
- Making arrests
- Questioning suspects
- Filing reports
- Using computer systems
- Communicating with colleagues
- Communicating with members of the community
Working as a cop you will be assisting the course of criminal justice, help the victims of crime, while at the same time prevent further crimes from taking place.
When you work within law enforcement, there are also many different criminal justice careers you can move into as your career progresses. Here are some examples of areas you may move into.
- Police Officer
- Corrections Officer
- Crime Scene Investigator
- FBI Agent
- Police Detective
- SWAT Team Member
Cop Salary and Career Path
Once you have a start working as a cop, you can look forward to good job security and stable employment. You can also feel assured that you'll be able to find work in any state, so if you need to relocate at any stage in life, finding a new job won't be too difficult.
Most cops stay working in law enforcement, and are employed by local, state, or federal branches. Some move on to roles for security firms, or may take up other roles in criminal justice, for instance as a crime scene investigator, detective, or similar role.
There is lots of room to progress once you have become a cop, most people attain promotion within two years of commencing their career. This also means that you can enjoy an increased salary package as you rise through the ranks.
There is also the possibility to work within different departments over the course of your career. If one role becomes too straining, or just a little boring, you can always look to do something different within the same industry. Most employers within law enforcement will encourage you to undergo further training, and may even provide study leave or scholarships for those who are interested.
A starting salary for a cop is between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Those with a few years experience could expect to earn $50,000 or more. Employment is secure, and job prospects strong.
If you are looking for a career that doesn't require you to sit at a desk all day and you like serving your community, then you might consider becoming a cop. You'll have plenty of variety, secure employment, and a good salary. It may take some study to get that first position, but once you are working in law enforcement, there are plenty of avenues for growth and professional development.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics