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Police Officer Certification and Certificate Program Information

This article explores certificate programs and certification information for aspiring police officers. See educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

While formal education is not required for employment as a police officer, individuals can enroll in an undergraduate certificate program. They might complete programs in police science, law enforcement and security or basic police training before enrolling in a police academy. A certificate program in police officer training requires 24-30 credits for completion.

Students learn about government and law enforcement, investigative methods, safety procedures and psychology. Police officer candidates also gain communication and problem-solving skills. Many such certificate programs are gateways to 2- and 4-year criminal justice programs. In order to work as police officers, individuals must earn state certification by completing a comprehensive examination.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent. Interested individuals are generally required to pass a physical exam and meet general fitness standards. A personal interview may be required for admittance.

Program Coursework

Students learn through lectures and lab work. A GPA of 2.0 is typically required for completion. Topics of study include:

  • Computers
  • Investigative procedures
  • Local and national laws and government
  • Civic relation strategies for law enforcement officials
  • Safety procedures and first aid care
  • Psychology fundamentals
  • Sociology fundamentals

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of police officers and detectives is expected to rise 7% from 2010-2020, estimates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, In 2012, police officers and sheriff's patrol officers earned an annual median salary of $55,270. Graduates of a certificate program for police officers can also work in private and public sectors as corrections officers, loss prevention specialists and security guards.

Certification Program Information and Continuing Education

In order to work as a police officer, applicants must complete police academy training, which is separate from the optional undergraduate certificate program. After completing police academy training, interested individuals must pass an examination for certification as a police officer; certification is administered independently by each state. In order to apply for certification, applicants must:

  • Have U.S. citizenship
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Not have any felonies
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Be at least 18-21, depending on the state
  • Undergo a physical examination
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics