High School Requirements for Becoming a Police Officer

by Morgan Rush ; Updated July 27, 2017
Prepare for becoming a police officer by completing high school math, English and science requirements.

Police officers work hard to protect their communities by enforcing laws, identifying criminals and offering education to help people stay safe. To become a police officer, you’ll need to complete a high school degree and some police departments require additional college or academy training. Get a strong foundation by meeting high school requirements for degree completion, giving special focus to those classes that teach analytical and communication skills crucial for police officers.

Math

High schools require a specified number of math credits for potential graduates, so stay on track by earning good grades in math classes. Math helps future police officers by developing critical thinking and analytical skills for problem solving. Working neatly and accurately on math assignments and exams helps police officers keep organized, accurate records in the field. You may also use basic math to reconstruct auto collisions and track crime statistics.

Science

Like math, science class requirements help potential police officers learn critical thinking and analytical skills. Police officers interested in forensics, detective work and crime analysis benefit from chemistry classes, human anatomy and physiology. These classes incorporate scientific principles with hands-on lab work.

English

To be effective police officers, law enforcement professionals must be strong communicators. You’ll need to complete four years of high school English requirements in order to graduate, but excelling in English classes imparts key skills related to reading, writing and analyzing documents. Learning to organize thoughts and build persuasive arguments helps police officers provide effective testimony in court.

Spanish

While not always a high school requirement, some schools do require one year of foreign language prior to graduation. Learning any foreign language helps develop adaptation skills, problem solving and open-mindedness towards different cultures. Choosing to learn a language commonly spoken by community members can help police officers interact with people whose first language is not English more effectively.

P.E.

Make no mistake, police officers spend hours at their desks writing reports, documenting crime incidents and researching cases. But police officers must be ready to spring into action any moment, which may involve running, climbing or grappling with an uncooperative suspect. Many high schools ask students to complete one or two years of P.E. to fulfill graduation requirements.

Psychology

While not a high school requirement, students must meet specified numbers of elective units prior to graduation. Psychology not only full-fills elective requirements, it can help police officers better understand how people think, how perceptions and beliefs affect actions and what underlying forces may motivate criminal behavior, including mental illness or previous trauma. This knowledge can help police officers interact with community members more compassionately.

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice classes can also fulfill elective unit requirements for high school graduation. Not all schools offer criminal justice, but taking this class helps future police officers gain valuable knowledge about the court systems, effectiveness of law enforcement, laws protecting citizens and the rights of suspects.

About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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