How Do I Become a State Police Officer?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2017
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A career as a police officer can be both challenging and fulfilling. In order to become a state police officer, an applicant must complete the required education and pass a number of different types of examinations. Once the applicant has made it that far, he or she must complete an intensive training course designed to prepare him or her to become a state police officer.

Within the United States, there are a number of different law enforcement agencies at all levels of government. Towns and cities often have their own law enforcement agencies, as do counties. The federal government has a number of law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Each state also has its own law enforcement agency. State police officers are frequently referred to as state troopers.

Most states have a basic education requirement and an age requirement that must be met before an applicant may apply to become a state police officer. In some states, only a high school diploma is required, while others require completion of a certain number of college credit hours or even an associate's or bachelor's degree. The age requirement will also vary by state, with some states accepting applicants as young as 18 and others requiring the applicant to be as old as 21. Assuming an applicant has the required education, the next step is to pass the state's civil service examination, which is a basic knowledge examination.

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Applicants who are selected to continue in the process to become a state police officer must then complete a serious of tests. A physical agility test will gauge the applicant's strength and endurance. A psychological test is also required of all applicants. Naturally, all applicants who aspire to become a state police officer must also undergo a background check as well as a polygraph examination.

State policies differ with regard to what will automatically exclude an applicant from eligibility. Passage of the civil service examination is mandatory, as is passing the agility and psychological examination. In some states, a minor criminal conviction that was significantly in the past will not disqualify an applicant; however, in some states, any conviction is grounds for disqualification and a felony conviction will almost certainly lead to disqualification. In addition, a polygraph result that shows signs of deception may also lead to disqualification.

Once an applicant has passed all the required examinations, the final stage necessary to become a state police officer is to complete the state's training. The exact length and type of training will differ by state. As a rule, an applicant can plan to spend a few months in training, sometimes at his or her own expense.

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