A common process of becoming a police officer involves being hired as a recruit by a police department, then attending a police academy for three to six months. Although academies differ in their entrance requirements, there are similarities across the board.


Academy applicants typically must be at least 18 years old. However, because most departments require at least an associate's degree, many police academies advise younger applicants to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree first.


A high school diploma or equivalent is required, although some allow military experience instead.

Driver's License

Police academy applicants must have a valid driver's license in the state where the academy is located.


Applicants must be U.S. citizens and some academies have specific residency requirements. For instance, a city law enforcement agency with its own police academy might require residency within the city limits.

Medical and Psychological Testing

Police academies require a complete medical examination including drug screening and strict fitness requirements. They check for aerobic capacity, strength and flexibility. Psychological testing also is administered.

Background Investigation

Police academy requirements include fingerprinting and a complete background investigation.

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