Becoming a police officer is a great career choice. However, there are steps you can take after you have gained your position to keep you competitive in the field. Many officers don’t want to stay on patrol duty their entire careers and see themselves moving upward in the department. There are a few ways for serving officers to advance their careers while keeping their positions in the department.
Seeking Higher Education
Higher education is priceless for a serving police officer. Depending on your department, there may be financial incentives to earning a degree, whether that is a bonus, a raise, or paying for your education. In addition, for advancements in fields like crime scene investigation, crime analysis, and others, higher education is required.
Leadership tends to look favorably on those with higher education. Better-educated officers tend to have better writing skills, a broader perspective of the world and police tactics, and better awareness and understanding. If you are considering a job outside of the department, a postsecondary degree is also very beneficial.
Specialists in the police force are seen as experts in their field. They require training that gives them the knowledge and tools to perform their tasks efficiently. Specialists may be detectives who work in specific fields like white-collar crimes or sex crimes. Or, they may work in fields like crime analysis or police intelligence.
All of these professions require a very specialized education and training regimen. Following this training is one of the best ways to advance your career in the police field. In addition, if you seek a career in the private or public sector, this training will go a long way in your job hunt.
Nothing demonstrates to your superiors your willingness and readiness to move up the ladder than completing and acing promotional exams. These may be multiple-choice or open-ended, but either way doing well can lead to advancing your career. They test both your knowledge of how to effectively do your current job, and they also test your knowledge of new tactics and best practices in the force.
The key to acing these exams is to get started studying early. So many officers begin studying too late; even waiting until the tests are announced may not give you enough time. Rather, if you are set on advancing your career by taking a promotional exam, you should be preparing months in advance. They can be tricky and require a lot of knowledge and critical thinking.
Demonstrate Potential and Commitment
Most agencies will require you to go through medical and psychological evaluations to ensure that you are physically and mentally capable of handling the stresses of the job. Police officers are at higher risk for heart disease, injury, and even cancer than other professions, so you’ll want a clean bill of health. If you have any bad habits like smoking or eating poorly, now is the time to change that. The best way to prepare for your medical exam is to live a healthy life and listen to your doctor.
The psychological exam will test your mental and emotional stability and well-being. There really is no way to prepare for an evaluation like this. The best approach you can take is to be open and honest with the psychologist, therapist or evaluator. Stay calm and be confident. Be prepared to answer frank and personal questions in a forthright and direct manner.