How Do I Become a Police Officer After Military Service?

Police Officer After Military ServiceFor those that are ending their enlistment, many wonder how they can become a police officer after military service and if this is the right career choice for them. While the competition for positions within local police departments is on the rise, many military members do not know that they are in the perfect position to make the transition from military duty to law enforcement. Here is a closer look at the proper steps to take to not only make this transition as hassle-free as possible, but to also improve one’s chances of a quick hire into their new career.

Finding the Correct Path

According to, There are currently over 220 cities that are actively offering incentives for veterans to join their police departments, and this means it is the perfect time to begin considering a transition into a law enforcement career. What many outside of this field may not realize as that various law enforcement agencies offer a wide variety of specialization within each department and many are going to find themselves gravitating towards a specific job due to their interests or past training. Within a modern police department, there will often be positions for bilingual officers, canine officers, helicopter pilots, crime scene investigators, motorcycle officers, and special agents just to name a few.

Initial Research and Paperwork

Once the serviceman or woman has begun to narrow down their choices, they should begin to send out letters of interest, or equivalent paperwork, for the departments or agencies that they are interested in. While it is never too late to file this paperwork, most suggest sending this information in at least a year in advance. This will give candidates plenty of time to request applications and then submit them, a step which should be carried out at least 6 to 8 months in advance. All other paperwork can be found or submitted through the Transition Assistance Office including information regarding one’s medals, awards, service record, and medical history.

Taking Care of Finances

For those that are wondering how to become a police officer after military service, it is often the financial aspect of the transition that is most difficult. This is why all military members should begin saving immediately as well as research information on their GI Bill options to make those first few months as stress-free as possible. If the specific police department that one has applied for has an academy run through an accredited organization, the GI Bill can be used to help cover some or all of the costs during the training and probationary period. Others will want to consider their options for entering into the reserves for further income.

Related Resource: Post 9/11 GI Bill

Other Requirements

Just like a civilian that will be entering into a law enforcement career, military members will have to meet a number of requirements even as a veteran. This includes having a clean criminal record, refraining from the use of illicit drugs, staying physically fit, and undergoing mental and psychological testing. For those that meet this criteria, having a background in the military is an incredible benefit for this process.

While the transition from life in the military to life as a law enforcement officer will often take over a year, it does not need to cause undue stress. For those that are wondering if they should become a police officer after military service, it is important to begin making preparations as early as possible to improve one’s chances of success.