How to find a police officer job
A police career offers lots of opportunities for advancement; here's how to get started in law enforcement
This article was updated on July 10, 2017.
Communities across our nation are actively recruiting police officers. With a constantly increasing demand for law enforcement professionals, there's never been a better time to become a cop.
People who have college degrees in law enforcement and people who’ve served in the military have a great chance of finding jobs with the police, but police departments are hiring new police recruits from all kinds of different backgrounds.
There are several questions people typically ask when considering a job as a police officer.
How do I find a job with the police?
The first step in becoming a police officer is deciding where you want to live and work.
If you’re set on one specific location, contact police departments in that area and find out what job openings you might be able to apply for. If you’re flexible in terms of relocation, then chances are, you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of jobs with the police all over the U.S.
How much money do police officers make?
Jobs with the police force offer great opportunities for careers that are secure, and a police officer salary can provide a comfortable living. You will also be making a well-needed, positive contribution to the community you live in, as well as to society at large. Additionally, you’ll have the respect of your community with a career that offers job security and good benefits.
What kind of police jobs are available?
There are many branches within each police department that specialize in various areas of law enforcement.
A standard police officer works within the community to enforce federal state and local laws, as well as protecting the public and reducing crime. Police patrol officers are employed in cars, on horseback, on motorcycles and on foot to do traffic details, report to the scene of crimes and accidents, and patrol high-crime areas. In addition, K-9 jobs with the police use highly trained dogs for specialized work such as drug location, missing persons and crime scene work.
Forensic jobs with the police are becoming increasing in popularity due to TV shows such as CSI, Law and Order and Criminal Minds, which feature forensic teams who solve crimes such as murders. This kind of police job requires specialized scientific training to perform duties such as DNA analysis, firearms investigations and detailed crime scene analysis using the latest cutting-edge scientific and technological methods.
Another of the jobs with the police involves working in the detective division. Detective duties include:
- Visiting crime scenes;
- Collecting evidence;
- Interviewing witnesses and suspects;
- Conducting investigations.
To become a detective, a department usually requires you to move up the ranks from police officer to detective through promotions and testing. Usually, an officer can take the test for detective after two years on the job, but some require you to put in five years of service before you can take the test. Some large law enforcement agencies will require detective candidates to earn an associate’s degree in that field in order to qualify for the position.
Obtaining a job with the police is an excellent career choice that offers lots of opportunities for employment and advancement within the various fields of law enforcement. Becoming a police cadet is a first step, and an option well worth looking at.