Becoming a police officer is often seen as a prestigious and rewarding career option. Like most careers in law enforcement, candidates for the police force must undergo extensive background checks, including a credit check. While there is no specific credit score required to become a police officer, a negative credit history can hurt your chances of being hired onto the force.
The Ideal FICO Score
Fair Isaac Company scores range from 300 to 850, with 700 and above generally considered good credit, and scores below ranging from fair to bad. Scores are composed of a variety of credit-related information, including the amount of money owed on your lines of credit, the length of your credit history and the type of credit on your report. While a good credit score is preferred, police departments are primarily concerned with a candidate's credit history.
Credit History Patterns Matter
When reviewing your credit history, recruiters, police chiefs and sheriffs look for specific patterns, not a specific credit score. If your credit history has minimal late payments, and moderate credit usage, it can demonstrate a pattern of responsibility, a characteristic that is important for those tasked with upholding the law. A less-than-positive credit history, or one in which your spending exceeds your income, however, may signal a pattern of irresponsibility, and call into question your ability to avoid the type of ethical temptations that police officers routinely face on the job.
How You Handle Debt Matters
While debt such as a home mortgage or student loans are permissible, especially for relatively young applicants, a history of bankruptcy and debt collection is not attractive. Recruiters want to make sure that you are consistently honoring your debt obligations by paying your bills on time. Due to the nature of police work, many hiring agents often act on the belief that past behavior is the best indicator of a candidate's future performance. The best candidates are going to be those who can demonstrate that they follow through on their financial commitments.
Get Help Improving Your Score
Many police departments have experienced a decline in funding, making them more selective about who they hire. If you have a bad credit history, you may be able to improve your chances of becoming a police officer by being proactive about your credit. Enrolling in a credit counseling service and following through on your payment schedule can demonstrate a commitment to obtaining better credit and demonstrate the type of responsibility necessary to become a police officer.