SWAT Training Program Information and Requirements

Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are elite groups within police departments. They handle especially demanding law enforcement scenarios that are above and beyond their respective departments' basic responsibilities. SWAT team members are typically experienced, certified police officers who complete specialized training at approved police academies, which in some cases may be local colleges or universities.

Essential Information

Aspiring SWAT team officers will find that the rules and regulations for training and certification will vary from state to state, based on individual states' Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) guidelines. For admission to such a program, an applicant must first be a certified police officer, and must typically hold a minimum amount of law enforcement experience, such as a year in the field. These programs are commonly offered through police academies, as well as community colleges and universities. It should be noted that aspiring SWAT officers hoping to reach higher positions, such as commander or team leader, may be required to complete more advanced coursework.

  • Program Levels in FIELD OF STUDY: SWAT Certification
  • Prerequisites: Certified as a police officer through Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) on a state level, usually one or more years of experience is required
  • Program Length: Weeks or several months
  • Other Requirements: Monthly re-occurring training is required by many departments, most require fitness standards and firearms qualifications.

SWAT Training Programs

SWAT teams are tasked with responding to high-risk situations, such as hostage standoffs, civil unrest and riots, suicide interventions and terrorism threats. Accordingly, SWAT officers must be physically fit and trained in tactics such as perimeter creation, use of chemical agents and heavy firearms, building entry, crisis negotiation and team communication. Police departments usually assign high-performing officers to their SWAT teams, or these officers may volunteer to join.

Course Topics and Training Regimens

SWAT officers are expected to be proficient in a wide range of core competencies related to high-risk incidents and to demonstrate their abilities in practice scenarios. Topics for a basic SWAT training course include:

  • Chemical agents
  • Civil liability
  • Criteria for SWAT deployment
  • Distraction and diversionary devices
  • Entering and searching buildings
  • History of SWAT

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that police officers and detectives will see a five percent growth in total employment from 2012-2022 ( In May 2014, the BLS stated that the mean annual wage for all police and sheriff's patrol officers was $56,980.

Continuing Education and Advancement Info

All police officers are eligible for promotion in rank based on job performance and written exam scores. Within SWAT teams specifically, members may be promoted to incident commander positions based on similar criteria.

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