A peace officer requires a great deal of training, the curriculum varying by the specific occupation. They generally must complete a training academy, examination, and have on-the-job experience.
Peace officer is a general term used to describe all public law enforcement personnel, including sheriffs, police, rangers, fire marshals and legal investigators. New peace officers must complete weeks of classroom and physical training and earn certification from their state before assuming their duties. The training may take place through local law enforcement agencies or at state or regional training academies. To qualify for a peace officer training academy, candidates must pass a written examination, an oral interview and physical, medical and psychological examinations.
|Required Education||High school diploma|
|Training Requirements||Complete peace officer training academy|
|Certification||State certification required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% for law enforcement workers|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$52,070 for law enforcement workers|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Peace Officer Training Prerequisites
Many students in peace officer training academies are already employed by law enforcement agencies, but others are civilians who want certification in order to pursue employment as peace officers. Most states set a minimum age requirement and mandate that certified peace officers hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. A trainee cannot have a felony conviction as an adult and must exhibit good character.
Generally, applicants for peace officer training academies must pass a written examination and an oral interview with an academy administrator. Peace officer trainees must also pass physical, medical and psychological examinations.
Peace Officer Training
In most states, peace officer training programs are under the jurisdiction of that state's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, which ensures that training meets accepted professional standards. Most peace officer jobs require POST certification. The local agency may set higher standards than POST minimums.
The length of basic training courses at peace officer academies vary by state, but all are several months in length for full-time students. Part-time training is available, but attending part-time can push the length of training up to a year. A department may cover the cost for training its officers, but non-affiliated students must pay tuition.
While at the academy or in training sessions, peace officers study procedures and learn about the technology they'll need on the job. They take courses in criminal law, defensive skills, first aid, the use of firearms and working with canine officers.
Physical fitness is also part of a peace officer's training. Most academies have physical standards the officer must meet, such as being able to scale a 6-foot wall or cover a set distance in a prescribed amount of time.
After completing work at the academy, a peace officer may work in the field with a training officer for several months. This gives the new officer a chance to apply knowledge from the academy in a real-world setting.
Peace officers who desire promotions or who want to improve their job performance can often take advantage of additional training offered through academies or their own departments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for law enforcement workers are projected to increase by four percent from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May of 2015, the BLS stated that law enforcement workers earned a median annual salary of $52,070 per year.
To sum up, a peace officer can be any number of law enforcement jobs, so the type of duties and coursework differ in each area. Classroom and on-job training are typically requisite in addition to passing exams for certification.