How to Get a Job as a Patrol Officer
Candidates must be at least 21 years old and have a driver’s license. Military experience is often viewed as an asset. Maj. Mark Brown, chief training officer for the Florida Highway Patrol, wrote in an email that the FHP looks for “a solid work history, a desire to help others, a willingness to work through a difficult academy and the ability to work anywhere in the state.” Police organizations generally put candidates through a thorough vetting process. Brown said applicants to the FHP can expect “a rigorous background check, polygraph examination, psychological test, physical ability test, a written test and they will be screened by a physician (including a drug screen).”
Officers who spend years in the field often become eligible for advancement. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain are usually determined by test scores and job performance. In some cases, officers may advance in the ranks and become a detective.
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Patrol Officers
"You're off duty....see a male and female arguing. What would you do?" - Allen Police Department Police Officer Candidate (Allen, TX)
"Tell us what you know about the department." - Novato Police Department Police Officer Candidate (Novato, CA)
"How would you do your job as a police officer in case of emergency?" - New York Police Department Police Officer Candidate (New York, NY)
|Upward Mobility||good Above Average|
|Stress Level||poor High|
|Flexibility||poor Below Average|
What is the Job Like?
As in other professions, the more experienced a patrol officer, the more opportunity he or she gets – and the more responsibility. Seniority dictates work schedules, so junior officers can expect to work nights, weekends and holidays. There are more promotional opportunities in large agencies or precincts, where there is room to specialize. Advancement is usually a result of performance and personal merit. “No one is in law enforcement for the money, shift work or great working conditions,” says Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police. “It’s that dedication to public service, and the self satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference through helping and protecting others that keep our men and women coming back to work each day.”
Last updated by Stephanie Steinberg.