What to Expect in the Police Academy

3/26/2019

If you’ve been offered a law enforcement position with a police department, your next step will be attending the police academy. Here’s what you need to know about attending the police academy in preparation for becoming a law enforcement officer.

How long does it take to go through the police academy? Each academy and state have their own requirements, but typically it will take around 6 months to complete your training at the police academy.

Will attending the police academy cost me anything? Actually, because attending and graduating from the police academy is required for your new job as a law enforcement officer, not only do you not have to pay to attend, you will receive your full starting salary while you’re training at the academy. If you attend the police academy without a job offer in place, you will have to pay tuition, though you can sometimes get a partial reimbursement for tuition if you get a law enforcement job after attending the academy. The average tuition for police academy is $6,700.

Are there different types of police academies? Yes, there are several different types of police academies. There are official state police academies, and there are also independent, approved police academies that are conducted at a local community college or other educational facility. Some departments have their own academies that you will be required to attend as a new recruit for that department. At some police academies you will live on the academy grounds during the week for the duration of your training, while with others you can live at home and attend classes for eight hours a day or during the evening.

What is the police academy like? All police academies are different, but what they have in common is that they are designed to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to be an effective police officer. Police academies are not military institutions, but they can feel that way. You’ll be given a lot of orders by your superior officers and you’ll be expected to follow those orders quickly and correctly. There’s going to be yelling, and you’re going to make mistakes that might draw negative attention or even punishment like extra push-ups. Just remember to be respectful, pay attention, and follow instructions.

What types of classes will I have to take? Each academy has a mandated curriculum, which means there are a set of core classes you’ll be required to take. In the classroom, you’ll learn things like state law, investigation techniques, computer skills, and report-writing, and you’ll also get practical, hands-on instruction in things like firearms handling, first aid, driving, and combat fight techniques.

Are there tests? Yes, the academy will include tests to verify that you have learned and mastered the topics covered by your classes. For most states, recruits must get a 70% or better on all tests, though some states require a minimum score of 80%.

Are all the tests academic or will there be physical testing too? You will have already passed your physical assessment in order to get hired, but it’s very important to stay in shape so you’re in top physical condition when you get to the academy. You’ll be required to run and do a variety of exercises during the course of your time at the academy, and in order to graduate you’ll have to pass a physical fitness test of your strength, endurance, and agility, which can include things like an obstacle course, simulated foot chase, vertical jump, fence-climbing, repeatedly squeezing a handgun trigger, dragging a simulated body, and more.

What happens after I graduate from the police academy? You celebrate! And then you get back to work. Once you have completed your police academy training, you are officially a certified police officer, but you will be required to a complete field training program with a senior officer before you’re ready to be on your own. Good luck and welcome to the force!

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