Pursuing a Career as a Police Officer with a GED
Although a GED may qualify you to pursue a career as a police officer, it may not be enough on its own. Academic requirements can vary from state to state and may also depend on what branch of law enforcement you plan on working for.
It is common for federal law enforcement agencies to expect applicants to have a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is also common for police academy applicants in all areas to have a degree or to have taken some college-level studies prior to applying.
This means that although a GED may be sufficient to qualify you to apply for a police officer position, you may find yourself competing against individuals with up to four years of college training. It is therefore likely that you will have better prospects if you complete some postsecondary studies before pursuing a career as a police officer. Studies in criminal justice, for example, can help you demonstrate you have relevant skills and knowledge when applying to a police academy.
Getting Into College
Most colleges and universities accept applicants who have a GED. This means that you can pursue the postsecondary education you may need to compete effectively for opportunities in law enforcement.
While a passing score of at least 145 will get you into most schools, your scores might also exempt you from placement testing or allow you to earn college credits.
GED College Ready
A GED with the College Ready designation is accepted by many postsecondary institutions as a clear indication that you are ready to take college courses. With a score of 165 or higher on your GED exams, you can often be accepted to college programs without taking placement tests.
GED College Ready + Credit
With scores of 175 or higher on the GED exams, you will receive a College Ready + Credit designation on your GED diploma. This can exempt you from taking placement tests and may qualify you for up to ten college credits without taking college classes.
Meeting Additional Requirements for Police Officers
There are a number of other factors, besides education, that are considered when individuals apply to become a police officer.
- Age Requirements: It's common for police departments to require applicants to be at least 21 years of age.
- Citizenship Requirements: Police departments typically require applicants to be U.S. citizens.
- Application Tests: There are a number of tests that individuals pursuing a career with the police must complete. These typically include a written exam, a fitness test and a medical test.
- Additional Requirements: Applicants may need to pass an oral interview as part of their application process. Police departments also conduct background checks of applicants and may administer a polygraph test.
Studying for GED Tests
High scores on the GED exams can help ensure that you are accepted to the college programs of your choice and demonstrate you are qualified for a career as a police officer. Using online resources, such as those linked to here, can be one way of preparing effectively for the GED exams.
- GED Study Guide
- GED Science: Life, Physical and Chemical
- GED Reasoning Through Language Arts
- GED Social Studies: Civics & Government, US History, Economics, Geography & World
- GED Math: Quantitative, Arithmetic & Algebraic Problem Solving