Some people have a certain penchant for justice, which can often lead them to a career in law enforcement. Whether it’s being a police officer, a detective, or a private investigator, there are certain basic qualifications all law enforcement personnel must-have. You don’t need to know all the types of glocks to be a good police officer, you just need to have the right mindset and some basic skills.
First Steps to Become a Law Enforcement Officer
Before you apply to the police academy or even decide law enforcement is the right path for you, there are some preliminary things you can do to set yourself up for success. First, take an honest look at what a police officer does day to day and ask yourself if that’s the right job for you. It’s not all shoot-outs and mysteries like you see on television. Some police officers might spend a whole week monitoring speed on a busy street or working on paperwork at the station. You can do a little research to get a better idea of what a cop’s normal day looks like, or better yet stop by your local station and see if anyone is available to explain it to you themselves.
Another important thing to do if you’re even considering becoming a police officer or any other member of law enforcement is to keep your record clean. Every branch of enforcement will conduct some type of background search, usually one more rigorous than other professions. You want to make sure there’s nothing to find in your personal history that might give them reason to question your fitness for the force. This means stay away from illegal activities, follow the rules, and be an example to others.
Most police officers hold at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. To move up in the organization, you usually need to secure higher education such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, depending on your desired career path. Many organizations will work with their personnel to accommodate their schedule or time constraints when they’re trying to earn their degree to move up in their careers. So don’t be afraid to search for a career before finishing your education.
In addition to the technical skills and qualifications, however, is the right personality. Not just anyone can step onto the scene and become a law enforcement officer; it takes a certain type of strong and courageous individual to fill that role in society.