Online Police Officer Certification Overview

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

There are no online police officer certification programs. A police officer must graduate from a police training academy and complete on-the-job training requirements. All courses and training are conducted in person. Requirements vary by agency.

However, there are online certificate programs in law enforcement and criminal justice that can prepare an individual for the police academy. Current police officers can also enroll in such a program for continuing education or career advancement purposes. Credits from some certificate programs can be applied to an associate's or bachelor's degree, and fully online undergraduate degree programs in criminal justice are available.

Certificate programs in law enforcement, criminal justice or homeland security are offered online at the undergraduate level. Courses may include surveillance, ethics, investigative techniques and counterterrorism.

Police Officer Certificate

Many law enforcement programs emphasize homeland security and counterterrorism as well as criminal theory and investigation. The program gives students a good understanding of the common problems a police officer might have to address. Certificate program applicants need a high school diploma or GED.

Information and Requirements

Most certificate programs require students to take 3-4 courses in the law enforcement or criminal justice field. The program takes 6-12 months to complete and can be taken entirely online.

Courses may be delivered online through a course management system or via CD-ROM. Online course lectures, discussions and assignment submissions take place through a course management system; Internet access is required. CD-ROM coursework may be completed offline; however, a computer is still required.

Course Topics

Certificate courses in the field of law enforcement help students hone their investigative and analytical skills. Classes often touch upon common stressors and possible dangers of life as a police officer.


Students learn about various types of terrorist threats and methods of preventing terrorist attacks. The varying motives of ideological terrorist groups are also explored.


This class introduces students to illicit drug identification. Students examine the organization of typical drug rings and the potential for violence when dealing with drug dealers.

Homeland Security

Students learn how to prepare for a homeland emergency and how to quickly recover and reorganize after a terrorist attack or national threat occurs. The qualifications needed to join the homeland security department are also covered.

Criminal Justice and Ethics

The history of morality and ethics in the U.S. criminal justice system is evaluated. Students learn how to combat unethical behavior and criminal activity while still remaining true to the ethical codes of the court systems.

Career Information

Certificate program graduates typically become police officers or detectives. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected police officer jobs to grow as fast as the average of most other job sectors from 2018-2028; however, the need for public safety will likely lead to ongoing job openings (

The BLS stated that police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median annual salary of $61,380 in 2018. Detectives and criminal investigators earned a median annual wage of $81,920 in 2018.

Continuing Education Information

The majority of actual police officer training occurs at government-run police academies where students are trained both outdoors in a police environment and indoors in the classroom. Police academy application requirements vary by state. Most training programs last around 12 weeks.

Depending on the law enforcement position sought, an associate's or bachelor's degree in the fields of criminal justice, law enforcement or political science may be required. To earn a federal agency position, for example, a student must have a bachelor's degree as well as field experience. For higher ranking officer positions, a master's degree in the law enforcement field might be required.

While police officer certification is not offered online, alternative programs can be found fully online. Students can go online to obtain a certificate in law enforcement, criminal justice, or homeland security, as well as get a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

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