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