How to Prepare Yourself for a Job in Law Enforcement

Learn What You Need to Do to Get Ready for a Law Enforcement Career

Police recruits
••• Recruits from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy participate in physical training. State of Indians/ILEA

Despite the difficulty, law enforcement agencies across the country are having in recruiting and keeping good officers, there are still plenty of people out there who see the benefits of becoming a police officer and who have a strong desire to work in law enforcement. Unfortunately, not all of those people are in a position to be hired - yet. If you are one of those folks willing to do the job, pay attention because I'm going to lay out for you exactly what you need to get yourself prepared for a law enforcement career.​

Be Ready to Pass a Law Enforcement Background Check

Before you even consider applying for a job as a police officer, you should evaluate your past behaviors and associations to make sure there aren't any skeletons in your closet that could keep you from ever getting hired.

Background checks for police officers are thorough and grueling, and they'll include looking at your past work history, any past detected or undetected criminal history, psychological evaluations, and even a polygraph exam. Needless to say, you need to have a pretty clean background if you want to have any hopes of getting hired, even if you meet the other minimum requirements to be a police officer.

You Need to Be Physically Able to Work as a Police Officer

Okay, so we've all seen pictures of overweight police officers. But regardless of whether a police department enforces fitness standards after you get hired, you can bet they'll have weight and fitness standards during the hiring process.

Usually, police departments use one of two types of tests: a physical abilities test or a physical fitness assessment. The best way to prepare for both is to do exercises that build up both your physical strength and your cardiovascular abilities. Regardless, consult with your doctor before you begin any fitness regimen, and start working toward getting in shape well before you apply for the job so you'll be ready whenever it comes time for the physical assessment.

Avoid Mistakes in Your Law Enforcement Application

Far too many people never make it past the first application when they go for law enforcement careers because they leave too many omissions or make too many simple mistakes. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to read and fill out your application thoroughly to make sure you don't end up in the "do not hire" pile before you even have a chance to show what you can offer.

To Be Successful in the Police Academy, You Need to Be Ready to Work

No matter what people may think about law enforcement, you need to know going in that nothing about the police academy is easy. From your first day at the law enforcement academy to the last day of the field officer training program, you need to be studying your textbooks and reading up on laws and policies to make sure you know everything you possibly can about the job. If not, you'll run the risk of failing a test or washing out of FTO, leaving your career hopes and dreams behind.

Law Enforcement Is No Cake Walk

the bottom line is this: no matter how physically fit you may be or how smart you think you are, you're not going to just walk into a police officer job. It's going to take hard work and preparation every step of the way. But with the right dedication and a positive attitude, you'll put yourself in a great position for a very successful and rewarding career.