It takes a lot of education to prepare for a career in law enforcement. Like any other type of academic study or professional training, the costs can be significant. While the costs of attending a police academy vary widely from one jurisdiction to another the information below can help give you an idea of the financial investment required to become certified as a police officer:
A police academy is an intensive and highly specialized school that prepares students for certification as law enforcement officers. Police academies often work in affiliation with community colleges, vocational training centers, and similar institutions. Like the cost of attendance, the enrollment guidelines and certification requirements vary from state to state. Other important rules such as the necessary age for enrollment and the number of classroom hours required for graduation will also vary.
On average, police academy training will consist of anywhere from 300 to 800 hours and take up to 9 months to complete. Some states require additional training–California, for example, requires an extra 100 hours of legal training. While the exact curriculum varies, a police academy student will learn skills required for law enforcement service such as proper handcuffing technique, use of communications devices and high-speed chase procedures. Additional types of training could also include crime scene investigation and understanding legal concepts. At the end of the training program, students must pass a written exam as well as a physical fitness test.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST:
Police academy attendance requires a significant financial commitment. Typically, the overall cost of attending a police academy is between $3,500 and $5,500. The specific amount is dependant on the jurisdiction, course of instruction and other factors. Additionally, some items such as uniforms and books are included with the tuition at some academies but treated as an ‘extra expense’ by others.
There may be other considerations that can affect admissions and financial policies. In some states, you have to be employed by a law enforcement agency before you can attend the police academy. In these circumstances, you may be eligible for a discount on tuition or even have it paid for entirely depending on the policies of your specific department. Some police academies operated by community colleges may charge less to residents of the area they serve and a higher amount to non-residents.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER COSTS?:
The first cost that prospective police academy students will have to deal with is the application fee and related charges. The entire application process for police academy attendance can be between $500 and $1000. In addition to the academy application fee there will be costs for other admissions requirements such as a medical examination, background check, psychological evaluation, drug testing, etc.
The ‘extra costs’ of attending the police academy vary widely from state to state. These include uniforms, books, study materials and other related items. In some states, these may be included with academy tuition others may consider them an ‘extra expense’.
ARE THERE WAYS TO REDUCE THE COST?:
As noted above, some law enforcement departments may provide you with discounted tuition or in some cases will pay the full cost of attendance. This practice is less common than it used to be, but it doesn’t hurt to check with local police departments for their individual policies.
Additionally, depending on where you live there may be a ‘competitive marketplace’ consisting of multiple community colleges and vocational centers that operate police academies. If you live in such a competitive marketplace, you can ‘shop around’ and compare costs. Make sure also to compare what each program offers since the cheapest one might not provide the best overall value.
There are other ways to make paying for police academy attendance more easily manageable. Some programs may offer ‘payment plans’ to spread the cost over a number of months. There may also be state or federal financial aid programs available including student loans, grants or scholarships. These sources of financial aid will require an individual application process. Some financial aid sources use merit or a competitive application process to determine who receives funds while others distribute funding based on financial need.
The best place to get more information on both merit and need-based assistance is the school’s financial aid office. These professionals know about the options available for your individual situation. Keep in mind that schools have a vested interest in making sure that qualified students can attend regardless of their financial status