Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poll: How much education do you have?

During the whole Gates and Crowley fiasco, I read a comment on a news forum. This person said that when they were young their dad was pulled over for a traffic violation and as the cop was approaching his father's window, he turned to his son and said, "Now remember son, a cop is a highschool dropout with a gun." So that's the view he has kept with him 30-some years later. Nice. Later I will go into all that's wrong with what that father taught his son.

From what I understand now, most agencies require at least a GED. Some require some college or a Bachelors. I am curious. How much education have you cops received? I will put the poll on the top right of my sidebar. Remember: spouses, girlfriends, family, friends, etc. can answer for their cop.
  • highschool or GED
  • some college
  • associates
  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Doctorate
  • other (such as trade school)
***added later*** I guess I should've included a highschool dropout option too. Oh well.


Leah said...

Where we live, there are so many agencies around that it becomes a competition of how many hours you have to have to work there (that's what it seems like at least). There is one agency that allows 10 hours of college credit, all of the others are 30, 60, 90, or a Bachelors. This was very frustrating for CC and I. They would waive this college credit for military time though. But most definitely you had to have at least a GED or high school diploma. I thought these requirements were only in the big city, because where I grew up, it was a lot like the kids who couldn't get into college became police officers. Very interesting. I'll be interested to see what the results are.

The Happy Medic said...

Not a po-po, but I've also been told I was a loser for not getting a "real job" or going to college.
Then I tell them of my Bachelor's and they get quiet fast.

-- said...

My hubby was in college on the engineer track until my mom talked him into going into law enforcement, he's earning a lower pay but he's so much happier doing what he's doing. There was no reason for him to finish his schooling since his job doesn't require it and he's already a Sgt so it all worked out as it should :) - life experience has nothing on education in some cases.

Alex said...

Not a cop, but in my area PDs require at least two years of college. At one department I'm highly interested in, there are two officers with graduate degrees, a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. (psychology PhD with additional clinical training).

Texas Ghostrider said...

I have two years of college, 20 plus years of life experiance as a cop, and I need to look at my training file to see my continuing education hours but it is in the thousands. My department believes in continuing education (police in-service schools) most are taught on a college level.

Kelsey said...

Where we live, you must have a BA to even apply!

copswife said...

My husband has an associate in applied science, from his before cop days, and now an associates in law enforcement, though it is not required to get a job.

Christopher said...

I have my Bachelors and am working on my Masters in Political and Justice Studies.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive me for what is going to be a very lengthy comment, but how education can impact one's life tends to get me on a soapbox.

First, in New York City metro area town where my family lives, my nephew says that you must have a bachelor's degree before you can apply to the local police department. He's about a year away from finishing his bachelor's in criminal justice (though I don't think that particular subject area is required) and will likely apply to the local PD afterwards.

In the US/Mexico border community where I live in California, I know that the police department of the particular city on the border, running along the fence between the two countries, does not require a college degree. (The son-in-law of a co-worker is with that PD, and she said he was so eager to join the PD that he didn't finish his associate's degree.)

Even if a degree isn't required for your particular field (police, emergency services, or other), I HIGHLY recommend that anyone complete at least a bachelor's. Why? You really don't know where life is going to take you. Having a degree might not be necessary now or the foreseeable future, but it could be some day.

Maybe you'll get into a police or emergency services department that doesn't require a degree. Fine, life might seem great at the moment. What if you needed to relocate, and the local agency requires a bachelor's degree? What if you wanted a really big promotion later, perhaps an administrative one? What if you want to move to a state or federal law enforcement agency? Or, what if you burn out and decide to get into another field? What if you're laid off?

While a bachelor's degree, or higher, never guarantees employment, nor means that you're smarter than anyone else (people, I work with PhDs for a living and I can tell you that last comment is true!), it does cause employers to look at you differently. Bottom line: If you're going to work for someone else, get a bachelor's.

If your employer will help pay for your education, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! Our local sheriff's department is paying for a friend's master's degree. (Read the fine print, though, regarding possible strings attached. Depending on your employer, there might be some or none at all.) Don't think you need to go to a fancy private school, either. Save lots of money by going to a community college for your first two years, then, ideally, switch to a public (read: cheaper) university.

Usually, what matters most is that you've earned a degree, not so much in which particular field or from which university you've earned it. However, be sure that your institution has regional accreditation by one of the groups listed at and is an institution that is recognized by the US Dept. of Education, and not a storefront college or diploma mill.

Finally, Happy Medic, I'm sorry that, as a professional who is willing to risk your life to save others, that you have been called a loser. You are anything but, with, or without your degree.

911 and the Randomness.. said...

Our department used to require an associates, but now only a GED and some college. I'm not sure why they changed. But part of that could be because there are studies that show that police officers with higher education get burned out faster then those with less college education. Our department will pay for the officers to go back to school and even work around their schedule to some degree. The only thing is that the officer has to pay for the semester first and gets the money from the dept at the completion of the semester. My DH has a bachelors degree.

Kelsey said...

"But part of that could be because there are studies that show that police officers with higher education get burned out faster then those with less college education."

My boyfriend has a bachelor's in sociology and a master's in criminal justice, and it was exactly that reason that he was discouraged from applying to the police force by a cop friend of ours. He said that he would likely feel underutilized.

mrs. fuzz said...

interesting. This is turning out to be quite the topic! So many layers to this. Thanks for all the comments everyone. It is interesting to see the requirements or general attitudes in different regions.

Happy Medic- Next time I have a medical emergency, or there's a fire, I'm going to call someone with a real job, like an accountant.

Natalie said...

Our PD just requires a HS diploma or GED, though officers MUST attend training seminars, POST (obviously) and everything else that is equivalent to a college degree without a school insignia. He received college credit for becoming a reserve prior to getting hired.

FH was in the middle of working towards his bachelor's before landing the job, so we're still trying to transition to his schedule well enough where he can complete it. It's always been a given that he'll get a bachelor's (at least!) It'll just be achieved non-traditionally.

I like this topic and the different pre-requisites it's brought out throughout the LEO world!

Mrs. Deputy said...

DH has some college education, Back in the 90's i dont think they required a whole lot to become a cop. he took some criminal justice classes and then went into the academy.

Now with all his "schooling" through the department he has the accumulation of a Bachelors Degree.

mrsofficer said...

My hubby has his AA and Bachelors in criminal justice.

Wifey said...

DH has a business degree from a state university and kicks himself everyday for not majoring in criminal justice. It was in his final semester of college that he decided to go into law enforcement and not "sit behind a desk for the rest of his life."

I think that departments ought to have a mix of officers with different education. The more perspectives the better.

MountainDispatcher said...

My hubby is in the academy right now. He has a HS diploma and some college. Our local agency only requires a HS diploma/GED.

RD said...

I dropped out of grad school to be hired with my department.