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Becoming a Cop - FAQs

PoliceLink

These FAQs are intended to answer some of the most common questions we receive here at PoliceLink asking how to land a career as a law enforcement officer. We encourage anyone interested in a law enforcement career to begin their journey by using the comprehensive guides we have put together. These guides cover everything you’ll need to know on how to separate yourself from the competition in your job search:

Ten Steps to Joining the Force

- This guide will walk you through the entire process of searching for a job with a law enforcement agency.

Ten Steps to Joining the Force – For Military Service Members

- Written in conjunction with Military.com, and specifically for current and former military service members, this guide will prepare you for a transition from the military into a civilian law enforcement job.

If after reading the Ten Steps guides, or the FAQs below, you still have questions, please visit the The Lobby in our discussion forums and review the past discussions or ask your own question there.

I am not a United States citizen, can I still become a police officer?

Laws and hiring policies differ from state to state and agency to agency regarding citizenship requirements. Generally, most agencies require you to be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien. If you have more specific questions regarding citizenship requirements, you should contact a law enforcement recruiter at an agency in your area.

I have a felony conviction, can I still become a police officer?

No. Felonies, weather committed as a juvenile or adult, and whether sealed or not, are automatic disqualifiers for a position as a police officer.

I have past drug use, can I still become a police officer?

Every agency has different hiring policies regarding past drug use. Some agencies will overlook certain drug use after a certain amount of time and some will overlook the past use of certain drugs. Certain past drug use will always be a disqualifier. Your best course of action would be to contact the specific agencies you want to work for and ask about their requirements.

How do I search for a police job?

The PoliceLink Career Center has the largest law enforcement career network on the Internet.

Am I too old for a job as a police officer?

Other than federal law enforcement agencies, which have a maximum hiring age of 37, most police departments do not have a maximum hiring age. However, it is recommended that you contact a recruiter for any specific agencies you want to apply to, just to make sure.

Are there any scholarships available for putting me through a police academy?

If you are attending a police academy that is affiliated with a college or university, and are receiving college credits for your time at the academy, then you may be eligible to receive traditional scholarships, grants, and/or financial aid. PoliceLink has put together the largest database of law enforcement and criminal justice scholarships available, and it is free to use for all PoliceLink members.

How do I become a police dispatcher?

There are countless dispatchers who are members of PoliceLink who can answer questions about a career as a dispatcher. Please visit the PoliceLink Forums and PoliceLink Groups to read through the topics on dispatching and to ask your own questions.

I’m in high school. What can I do to prepare for a police career?

One of the best programs you can participate in is the Law Enforcement Explorer program. Speak with your school’s School Resource Officer (SRO) and ask him / her how you can get involved in your local Explorer program.

Related Reads

Ten Steps to Joining the Force
How to Get Into the Police Academy
The Police Oral Board Secret Weapon
Mastering the FBI Fitness Test

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    StrobeCraft

    almost 5 years ago

    28 Comments

    very helpful

  • Kia_s_picture_three_max50

    Kae

    about 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    Hello all i am currently in college about to graduate with my bachelors in aug 2009. i need some assistance as to where i need to start because i don't have a clue. I mean i would do just about anything to get me started within law enforcement. i am eager to help make a difference in the lives of other but don't have a clue as to where to begin. please help!!!

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    harleywiz

    about 5 years ago

    4 Comments

    just a quick comment first my backround i live in florida and am 51 in my 2nd year of a 2 year degree in cj 32 years ago had a b&e felony conviction been a volunteer for the city police for 4 years and a volunteer for the s.o. for 1 year aplied for a full pardon 1 year ago takes up to 2 years for a pardon in florida talked to the city police i work for and a couple of other departments in the state all told me the same thing would need a pardon and depends on the type of crime and the time frame that has passed my research shows you can become a police officer in the state of florida with a pardon felony conviction not saying it would be easy but can be done my plan is to have the pardon,cj degree,and gone through the academy,and get fdle cerfited at my cost befor i apply to make me a more attrictive asa prospect ....i made my mistake when i was 18 it was 32 years ago and never had problems again every day you here of police officers getting arested so i think its better that i messed up when i was young and stupid and at my age am less likey to offend.....and know i have to do it better then then the other guy because i have a past

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    Achaffee

    about 5 years ago

    18 Comments

    Well im good to go!

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    MCSO_7041

    about 5 years ago

    676 Comments

    For questions, I would suggest that all of you contact your local agency and ask them the specifics about requirements, eligibility, and any other questions. Each state has different requirements and agencies within the state have different requirements. It is best to contact the specific agency to figure out what is needed or what requirements are.

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    kitty1234

    about 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    I have a prior past drug usage without any convictions or arrests. I cleaned up my life got my GED and Im about to graduate from college withan AAS in CJ Law enforcement Police Officer. it's been 5 years since I last used. Will this disqualify me at all in Montana? if so, where can I go to work where the stater the dept would over look the past and look at what the work andaccomplishment a person has made to become a dedicated officer. Wouldnt my past be an aide not a hinderence in my career?

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    rossana

    over 5 years ago

    6 Comments

    Does the criminal record of a family memeber affect my goal of becoming a cop?

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    KayKay1990

    over 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    Okay I live in Canada, but I have always wanted to be an American and be a cop in the US is there anyway I could do that???

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    JessicaDeputy

    over 5 years ago

    68 Comments

    well... i understand that it could be that easy..but it usually isnt...i has taken me 3yrs to finally find a police explorer program, but this was kindof helpful.

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    jhess

    almost 6 years ago

    4 Comments

    WHAT IS THE NEAREST AGENCY IN MANILA PHILIPPINES OR APOPKA FLORIDA, FOR BECOMING POLICE OFFICER IN USA?
    I AM INTERESTED TO BECOME RESIDENT ALIEN JUST TO BECOMING POLICE OFFICER, BUT HOW OR WHAT WILL I DO.
    THANK YOU SIR/MA'AM

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    jasonlovell

    almost 6 years ago

    58 Comments

    i have a high school diploma and i'm 26 i have a clean record and never did drugs never been in jail and never had a speeding ticket

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    JSpencerFan23

    almost 6 years ago

    160 Comments

    To answer your question tbryant, when it comes to strait rules you might be ok. You only have misdemeanours and no felonies so thats good. It also depends how long ago you were using, and to what extent. Some agencies allow admission of using marijuana without disqualification. The only thing is that you have 3 convictions. But, even though some agencies are getting more lenient on pot smoking, you may still be turned down because of heavy and frequent use or if you've smoked in the past couple of years or so.

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    Jophes

    almost 6 years ago

    292 Comments

    Thanks for the advice. I'm trying to join the Explorers Program now.

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    tbryant

    about 6 years ago

    4 Comments

    I am 39 years old and I have had a pass with marijuana use problem ,as much as I hate to admit it.But I have choose to be example of possitive rather than negative and through the grace of God ,I have beat the habit.I have gotten my GED and have joined college under a 2 year associates degree and with hopes of going futher.Only thing is that I have had 3 marijuana misdameaor convictions is it possible for me to become a police officer or corrections officer with these convictions on my record.

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    mattda

    about 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    How would I find an agency in Florida? A law enforcement recruiter in Florida?.

    mattda88@gmail.com

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