Act 120 Certification Information

Mar 25, 2021

Act 120 certification is required in order to become a municipal officer in Pennsylvania. Certification can take up to one year to complete but is often achieved earlier by full-time students in participating programs. Act 120 training and programs cover topics such as crisis management, crime scene analysis, first aid and criminal law.

Essential Information

Act 120 training prepares individuals to work as police officers and law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania. Earning Act 120 certification may take 19 weeks or more, depending on if the student is enrolled full-time or part-time. Participants must meet minimum age, education and physical requirements. This program is offered through some colleges and universities in the state.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Additional Requirements Background check, physical exam
Job Outlook 5% for police and sheriff's patrol officers nationwide (2019-2029)*
Median Annual Wage $68,940 for police and sheriff's patrol officers in Pennsylvania (2019)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Act 120 Certification Overview

Act 120 is also known as the Municipal Police Officers' Training Academy, a program that gives trainees the skills they need in order to become successful police officers. A municipal officer enforces the law in a specific locality; in the case of Act 120, the locality is Pennsylvania.

In order to become a municipal police officer in Pennsylvania, Act 120 certification is required. The only exception is applicants with existing certification documentation as well as proof that they were employed as full-time officers in another state. They are still required to take a waiver certification exam to meet requirements for Pennsylvania.

Program Prerequisites

To enter an Act 120 certification program, applicants must be 18 years of age and have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. In addition to submitting an application fee, potential students may be required to purchase targets, ammunition, textbooks and uniforms, as well as getting a background check and physical examination.

Additional Certification Information

There are several universities and colleges that offer Act 120 certification in Pennsylvania. The length of the program depends on the university, but typically requires at least 750 hours of study and training. The full certification may take up to one year; however, full-time students generally take about five months to graduate. At that point, candidates are eligible to work as officers for bureaus, cities, municipalities and townships of PA.

Some of the topics that may be covered in an Act 120 certification program include criminal law and investigation, first aid and CPR, criminal and accident investigation, firearms and defensive tactics, police vehicle training, crisis management, patrol tactics, crime scene analysis and routine traffic stops. Since credits in the Act 120 program often count as college credits, some Act 120 graduates go on to pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Act 120 certification is required in order to be a Pennsylvania municipal officer. Certification is granted to all applicants who meet program pre-requisites and complete coursework in policing rules and strategy. Following certification, candidates can begin police work in Pennsylvania or continue their education in a degree program.

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