Essential Requirements of Every Aspiring Police Officer

Do you find the prospect of a 9-to-5 job daunting? Not sure where your career should go. Maybe becoming a police officer might just be the career for you.

Of course, police officers are regularly in the news – for both seemingly good and bad reasons, depending on the case. That being said, there is growing demand for police officers throughout the United States.

The training might be tough, but the career is worth it – challenging, interesting and never boring; one that helps the community and gives the law enforcement officer the satisfaction that comes with that duty.

Here, we outline the essential requirements of every aspiring police officer – what you need to do, and pass, to become a qualified member of the policing community.

Fundamental requirements

Before we delve into the specific training model, let’s quickly run through the most fundamental requirements that every aspiring police officer must fulfil. These requirements include:

  • The need to be a US citizen
  • To be at least or over 21 years old (upon graduation from the police academy)
  • No blemishes on your criminal record
  • Valid driver’s license

Tick all the boxes? Great! Let’s now move onto the educational requirements.


The precise education requirements depend on a state by state basis. However, each police department requires that the candidate completes a certain number of college hours. Many students present with college degrees, but this is not a necessity.

From there, the candidate must pass the police exam.

The process begins with the submission of certain documents – such as birth certificate and college experience – as well as the payment of a small fee. Again, the precise protocol differs on a state by state basis.

There is no one score you need to achieve. It depends on the candidates and how each candidate performs. The highest performing candidates are the ones who will be chosen. You need to maximise your effort to ensure you achieve the highest possible result.

Physical fitness

Of course, police officers must be physically fit. You will be tested on your physical fitness level as part of the screening process. You’ll also be tested and expected to be honest about your existing physical state.

For instance – levels of blindness or deafness.

Candidates who carry more weight than desired may also be disqualified.

The test you undergo differs on a state-by-state basis and it also differs based on gender.

Police academy training

As part of your police academy training, you are expected to learn about a wide variety of topics and situations.
For example, you need to learn:

  • The relevant local, state and federal legislation
  • How to conduct self-defence
  • Learning how to manage traffic
  • Learning the safe and effective use of firearms
  • Managing medical emergencies in their initial aftermath

As you can see, this is quite a broad and diverse training program. The average program lasts between 3 and 4 months.

Final thoughts

Becoming a police officer is difficult. It takes an enormous amount of preparation – both physical and mental – to succeed. Don’t forget – you are also tested on your mental state, too, to ensure you have the correct frame of mind to perform the necessary duties to the best of your ability. You may be disqualified on mental health grounds.

Police Test Guide has put together some excellent resources to help you pass the police exam. Our resources are tailored toward your individual police department. We have helped thousands of candidates throughout the United States pass their police exam.