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Q&A: What degree do I need to become a cop?

by tom44 on April 12, 2013

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Question by Satan: What degree do I need to become a cop?
My ultimate goal is to become a homicide detective. I am planning on going to a community college, then transfer to a university to finish getting a degree. I know I don’t need one, but I’d like something to fall back on in case it does not work out. What should I major in to become a police officer? I live in Los Angeles so I think a degree would be very useful.

Best answer:

Answer by Miss Fields
Satan, that’s some name. Anyway, just major in Administration of Justice. I’ve taken Aj 1 2 and 3. There very interesting courses, especially Aj 2, which is about criminal law concepts. Aj 3 is cool, that one is about criminal evidence. I don’t plan on being a cop, but I’d like to be a paralegal who works in criminal law. Also, you don’t have to have a degree, you can just join the academy.

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2 thoughts on “Q&A: What degree do I need to become a cop?

  1. Daniel Cornwall, Librarian says:

    Looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook entry for police and detectives, it looks like a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice would be helpful. You can use the free federal College Navigator to find colleges with criminal justice programs. Click on “browse programs” then search for word “criminal.”

    The Occupational Outlook Handbook also has information on pay, working conditions and organizations related to police work.

    As the last person said, going to the academy is an an option. You mentioned you live in Los Angeles, so I’ve put the link to the academy in my sources list. Here is a summary of their curriculum in case that helps you decide on programs:

    The LAPD Police Academy Curriculum:

    Academics encompasses arrest and booking procedures, preliminary investigation techniques, radio and communications, report writing, traffic investigation, and traffic enforcement.

    Driving includes the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, which covers defensive driving, pursuit policy, and safe vehicle handling.

    Firearms Training includes weapon care and safety, marksmanship, tactical manipulation with the sidearm and shotgun, and chemical agents handling (Police candidates are strongly discouraged from seeking firearms instruction prior to entering the Police Academy. Poor marksmanship habits may be developed that are difficult or impossible to overcome.).

    Human Relations includes cultural sensitivity training, sexual harassment issues, media relations, stress management, disability awareness, community relations, tactical communications, hate crimes, missing persons, and domestic violence.

    Law covers search and seizure, evidence, laws of arrest, crimes against persons and property, sex crimes, crimes against children, and other general criminal statutes falling under the California Penal Code, Los Angeles Municipal Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, and Federal Laws.

    Physical Training builds strength and endurance through physical conditioning while promoting a positive attitude toward a fitness lifestyle. It also encompasses training in physical arrest techniques, controls, and weaponless defense.

    Tactics covers patrol techniques and procedures, crimes in progress, building searches, vehicle stops, use of deadly force, and shooting policy.

    LAPD Specific Training includes Advanced Tactical Training, Mobile Field Force Tactics, Patrol Ride-Along, Mobile Digital Computer (in-car computer) Training, Alcohol Abuse, Administration of Discipline, Cultural Diversity, K-9 Operations, Air Support Operations, Bomb Squad, Community Policing and Problem Solving, Spanish Language, Civil Liabilities, and Sexual Harassment Training.

  2. J.W. says:

    Requirements to become a police officer vary and how you become a police officer varies depending on the police department. Visit the websites of the police departments that you might be interested in working for. Police department websites often provide information about their applicant requirements, about how to apply, and about their hiring process. Some relatively common minimum requirements include having at least a high school diploma or ged, being a citizen, being at least 21 years old, having a valid driver’s license, and having no felony convictions. Some relatively common steps in hiring processes include application, written test, physical fitness test, interview, drug test, medical examination, and background investigation. How you become a detective also depends on the department. Most departments require officers to work as patrol officers for at least 2 (usually more) years before being eligible to become detectives. If you want to become a detective, become the best police officer that you can. Maintain an excellent record and reputation as an officer. Becoming a detective can be a very competitive process. Many officers that want to become detectives won’t be able to.

    It is great that you are planning on getting a college degree. Getting a college degree is one of the best things that you can do. Many departments require or prefer applicants to have college. Having a degree could help you get hired with some departments. Some departments pay their officers more if they have a degree. Having a degree could also help you get promoted during your career. Get a 4 year degree from an accredited school. Choose a major that interests you, that is marketable, and that could be useful for police work. There are many good majors for police officers and people that want to become police officers. Accounting, communications, computer science, a foreign language, forensic science, law, and psychology are some examples. When choosing a major, consider what you might want to do if you decide not to become a police officer or if you can’t become a police officer. Whatever major you choose, make the most of your time in college. Get the highest grade point average that you can, participate in a couple extracurricular activities, get a good internship, and do some regular volunteer work.

    Getting police officer jobs is becoming more and more competitive. Do whatever you can to make yourself the best candidate that you can. For example, don’t do anything illegal, maintain a good reputation, keep a good driving record, don’t get bad credit, improve all of your communication skills as much as possible, practice to improve your observation and memory skills, and become as physically fit as you can. Best of luck!

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