T Nation

Back Up Plan: Police Academy


So for the past 4 years I've been enrolled in college for 3 years of courses and 1 year of internships. I'm studying industrial engineering and biomechanics, and I'm currently working for a company that does minimally invasive spinal surgery.

However, I'm at the end of my rope with regards to paying for school. Without getting into it, there is a 90% chance that I won't be able to pay for school this year, whether loans or what not. So it's time to start exploring other options.

My back up plan has always been the police force. Haven't really looked into it too much so I figure this is one of the places I should look, since I can get real answers from people that may have experience but aren't trying to sell me on something. What's everyones opinion on this?


Funny, I am kinda in the same boat. I am an attorney but am hating my current job and the legal market is hell right now. (I am doing civil litigation, but want to do criminal law.) Even before I went to law school, I was thinking about law enforcement as a career. My current shitty job and the lack of other opportunities is really making think hard about pulling the trigger (pun not intended) on a career as a LEO, whether as an 1811 or with a local agency. I am also interested in hearing responses to this from people in the know.


i was always under the impression you needed a 4 year degree to go LE.


The wait list for the nypd is extremely long right now, if you were to use it as a backup, it wouldn't be immediate. You should take the entrance exam asap. After benefits and pay were increased, a mass of new bodies signed up (and have taken/placed) for the force


If you can't get on with the PD think about Customs and Border Protection.


Why are you considering PD? Is it mainly for benefits to pay for school? If so, make sure that they are willing to pay for your major. Most companies won't support tuition reimbursement if it's not directly related to the company. I was considering getting on at the Fire Dep. and work on my Mechanical Engin. degree, but found out that they wouldn't pay.


well, i'm gonna be pretty honest, so i hope you don't take offense to this:

i'm a police officer in the midwest. in all honesty, if you wanna be a cop to pay off your school debts, you're stupid. it's not a job; it really becomes a lifestyle.

it's a dangerous job, and one that can alienate you from a lot of people in your life. if you want to be a police officer because that's what you want to do, then i whole-heartedly support you. but if you tell your training officer when you're a rookie that you're doing it to pay off school, and then you'll leave to go to a "real" job, you'll make a lot of enemies fast.

also, like every job right now, LEO jobs are having tons of qualified applicants, so it won't be nearly as easy to get hired as it could have been a few years ago.


i remember your previous thread a long time ago about a career as a LEO rather than as a lawyer. if you still feel like this now you should do it life is too short!


I had some thoughts, but I'll see about it. General preference here is that you're under 24 and have to have 2 years of high school, I'll be 23 when I finish my college, then I'll think about going to the police/army or getting my Ph.D. (I prefer the last option to be honest)


I'm not trying to get the force to pay for my degree, I just need something that starts off paying well enough that I can start paying back my student loans that I've already accrued.

Not sure what gave people that impression.


Before considering a career in law enforcement, make sure of your state's current fiscal situation. The reason I say that is because here in California, the state is thinking about a hiring freeze with police and fire depts. to save money. Just something for you to check on and think about.


Have you thought about being an MP? The military will pay off your loans and when you get out you have a huge experience advantage over other applicants.


No bro, they have 'tards fresh out of high school with two chips on their shoulders running around in my old county's sheriffs dept. All you need is you cheat sheet, and know how to kill or maim a person.


Military will only pay off federal stafford loans. Furthermore police forces could give a shit less what your MOS is in the military, doing MP is stupid, EVERYONE hates you.

edit: And for the different requirements for the forces the minimum is dictated per state, then there may be higher requirements per the office. For example, in Florida the minimum for the state is being 18, and done with highschool. For the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office its a 4 year degree, or 4 years military, or 2 and 2.


Requirement in NY is 60 college credits minimum. Doesn't specify what those have to be.

I should have a leg up on the 'tards, either way.


well, i didn't say you were looking for a student loan repayment, just that you planned on using your salary to pay off your loans.

if you want to be a cop because that's what you want to do, then do it. i'm just saying that once you make that choice, it's pretty much gonna be your lifestyle 'til you retire. i enjoy what i do and think it's a worthwhile profession, but i don't think if you're not mentally prepared on what you're doing that it's a good idea. if i'm calling 911, i want the cops coming that want to catch the bad guys, not the guy that's there collecting a pay check (and this is a whole seperate rant for me).

if you're unsure, then schdule a ride-along with an agency near you, and see what you think, and talk to cops in the area about it.


Good luck getting hired. I have a 4 year degree in criminal justice, I am working on a masters, worked for the department of corrections for a year and a half, and didn't have a shot. The two police departments I tested for in the last 6-months to a year or so ago had over 100 applicants for four postions, and were pretty much hiring already commissioned officers.

Things are getting bad enough that the state prisons aren't even hiring, as the recession is bad enough they can't afford to and they are fully staffed. I tested a year and a half ago for the jail where I am working now and there were only 8 testee's, and the last test in february was over 100. A lot of people are thinking now about becoming police officers, just because of the economy, and its bad enough that people are even fighting to get corrections jobs.


I'm telling you, seriously look in to Customs and Border Protection. They are dying for people up in my area! The guys that they have are pulling doubles like 4 days a week, its ridiculous the amount of overtime they are getting.


Yup, that was me. I am still feeling this way. Even my parents, who were originally against the idea, are now encouraging me to do it since they have seen how serious I am about this and how much research I've done about it. (Though most of my research has been heavy on the FBI; I have not talked to as many police officers.)

This may sound stupid, but so many ridiculously negative things have happened to me with law that I really feel like a higher power or fate may be steering me in that direction.


Air National Guard --> Nab the Security/MP MOS training --> Law Enforcement if you really want too.

The reason being is that the Air National Guard (Chair Force, Desk Pilots, Sneaker Camp Graduates,and Bicycle Warriors) are never really in a live fire zone even if your unit is activated, your college is completely paid for and they will most likely even push for you to get your masters or doctorate, and with the amount of school you have you'll get a nice little bonus if you do 4 years of active service first (of which you can still go to school full time pretty much in the air force) and if that's not your deal, then the Security/MP MOS training does apply towards Federal Law Enforcement, Border Patrol, Customs and DEA, and you can go about it that way. Border Patrol with differential, a little OT, and college under your belt is paying like 60k a year minimum to start maybe more.