If you are looking at starting a career in public service, becoming a police officer may have sprung to mind. This is not a job that suits everyone and it takes a strong-willed individual to carry out this job, but it is also a very rewarding career that comes with many benefits. If you feel like you may want to change careers or you are just finishing school or college and are looking at what to do next, there are things you need to know to ensure you are right for the police force, and that the police force is the right job for you.
Patience is Key
Long gone are the days in which you could walk into your local police station for an interview and be patrolling the streets the next. As time has gone by, the police want to ensure the public is safe, and that means future police officers must go through rigorous testing and background checks to make sure they are safe to look after citizens. The hiring process to becoming a police officer can take as long as 12 months, and you may need to start with voluntary work. Although it can be daunting, this is to ensure you have what it takes. As a police officer, you have a duty to ensure you look after the public, so you can understand why police officers need to have thorough safety checks and a longer hiring process than most jobs.
Be Prepared for Plenty of Background Checks
As part of the hiring process, any police officer must have several background checks to prove they are safe. If you have a few parking tickets, don’t panic because it won’t stop you from becoming a police officer. If you have an offense on your record from when you were younger, be open and honest about what you did and how you have changed. You will be more respected if you are honest about what you have done, rather than being found out later when you cannot explain yourself. They will also check things such as your credit history and previous employment record, so you need to be honest about every job you have worked in, even that one you may have only worked at for a week and have left out of your CV. You will also go through medical and fitness checks, as well as taking a polygraph test.
Training Will Be Tough
You need to be strong-willed and determined to get through the police academy. As a member of the police force, not only do you need to be academic, but you need to be fit, as you may need to chase down a few bad guys in your time as a cop. First, you will go through the police academy, which aims to get you ready for a job on the police force. This includes learning how to hold and shoot a firearm, learn defense mechanisms for when you are being attacked, first aid, and driving. Add this to passing all the academy tests and physical examinations and you will be challenged both physically and mentally. If this is a career you really want to pursue, do not let this put you off. police academy can be tough, but it challenges you, improves your fitness, and you may make some friends along the way. You may want to continue your learning once you have passed, to be prepared with focused techniques and real-life experience; this program can give you a better insight into criminology and policing.
You Need to Be Prepared for Long Shifts
If working 9-5 in an office bores you to death, policing may be a job you enjoy more. Although the days are long, no two days will be alike and if you have already worked in a job that has long shifts, you will already be used to this and it will not come as a shock to the system. Policing is a 24-hour job and crime does not stop, therefore, you may be required to work day or night; this comes with the territory. You need to be able to fit shift life around family and friends, as well as looking after your own health. Many shift workers such as police officers and nurses have poor health due to stress, lack of sleep and bad eating habits from doing long shifts with little breaks. If you feel yourself losing your motivation, try and get back into as much of a routine as possible, and have meals prepared so you are less likely to snack on fast food during your shifts.
You Need To Be Able to Switch Off
With any work such as policing or nursing, you need to be able to come home from a shift and switch off. Of course, we are all guilty of bringing home our work woes, but this is worse for those in a job where they may see things they did not want to. This will get easier over time, but if you are someone that can overthink things for days and finds it hard to switch off between work and home life, policing may be a tough job for you and could take over your life. Being able to switch off ensures you have your time at home with your friends and family to recuperate before returning to work. There are police counselors to talk to, as there may be a day you come across something that does affect you. Before you start a career in the police force, you need to understand what you could be faced with. If you believe you are strong enough to deal with this, then the police force could be the place for you.
Policing is tough, but it is also a very rewarding job and not one that everyone can do. If you are ready for what policing can bring, you may have what it takes to become a police officer.