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How to become a police officer?

“I want to be a policeman!” is both a childhood dream and a realistic career aspiration. The police, as part of the executive branch, is responsible for law enforcement. Their tasks include ensuring order and security as well as investigating criminal offences and locating perpetrators. But how do you become a police officer? We answer this question for you in today’s article.

Employer – Who do you work for as a police officer?

Germany is a federal state, which means that each federal state has its competencies and rights to make decisions. The police are an example of such a “country matter”. So every federal state has its police force. In addition to the state police, there is also the national police. This is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and is responsible, for example, for border protection, aviation security or the protection of the federal constitutional organs. The Federal Criminal Police Office also employs police officers. It deals with serious crimes at the national level, while the police of the German Bundestag is responsible for security and order on the Bundestag premises.

Police career levels:

Depending on which career or qualification level you are interested in, the path to becoming a police officer also looks a little different. A distinction is made between the following careers:

  • Intermediate service or 2nd qualification level or career group 1.2
  • Senior service or 3rd qualification level or career group 2.1
  • Senior service or 4th qualification level or career group 2.2

The names differ depending on the state but include about the same thing.

For example, for the middle service, you do not need a university entrance qualification and complete an apprenticeship with the police, while the higher service is linked to a degree. The higher benefit is the “management level” of the authority, which is why both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in policy must be completed for the qualification. Depending on which qualification level you choose, your area of ​​responsibility also differs. You can find out which tasks await you at which level and your career opportunities in our article Police – Careers.

Requirements:

Not everyone interested can become a police officer. There are a few prerequisites that you need to meet, as well as a rigorous selection process. Just as the training content and methods differ depending on the federal state, so do the prerequisites. We have summarized the most common ones for you below:

  • German or other EU citizenship
  • School-leaving qualification: University entrance qualification (Abitur or equivalent) for the upper level, the middle school leaving certificate (or equivalent) for the central service
  • Minimum size 
  • Age restrictions 
  • health aptitude
  • No criminal record
  • No obligation on a larger scale
  • Character and physical aptitude

Factors such as the minimum size or the minimum and maximum age to qualify for police service vary greatly depending on the federal state. On our website, you will find a separate article for each federal state and the Federal Police and the BKA, which describes the requirements and the selection process.

Becoming a middle-service police officer: training :

The training that prepares you for intermediate law enforcement service lasts around two and a half years in most cases. You will first learn the basics of police work in theory and simulated situations. Law, police behaviour and criminalistics are on the curriculum. You will also receive shooting training and driver training geared explicitly towards police work. In addition, there is the area of ​​personal development, which includes, for example, sport, self-defence or conflict management. In our article Police – Training you will find out more about the training content and the course of the training.

Becoming a senior police officer: studying:

To become a senior police officer, you have to complete a three-year bachelor’s degree. This is usually a dual course of study, which means that practical and theoretical content are combined and that you already receive a salary during your studies. The system includes, among other things, law, psychology, criminology or operational and traffic studies. You can read more about this in our article Police – Studies. After graduation, you will work in the higher service, for example, as a detective inspector. After some work experience, you realize that you have exemplary leadership qualities and would like to continue your education. You can qualify for higher service (4th qualification level) with a master’s degree.

How to become a cop: the application:

Once you’ve made up your mind and are sure that you would like to work for the police, the next step is, of course, to apply. Nowadays, most state police, federal police, and BKA have an online application portal. There you first have to register and then follow the instructions. With such an online portal, it is common for you to upload your application documents digitally. What exactly is required of you differs depending on the authority. You have to upload your certificates and other documents that prove that you have met the requirements most of the time.

In many cases, there are also several forms that you need to fill out. It is best to find out more about this on the website of the police of your choice. When you have completed your application, you will,

The selection process:

As mentioned earlier, to become a police officer, you have to meet a few requirements and go through an extensive selection process or a recruitment test. This also differs depending on where you are applying. You can usually expect the following components:

  • Written or computerized test
  • Sports test
  • Oral recruitment test (possibly assessment centre)
  • Medical examination for police fitness

The selection process usually takes place on several consecutive days. In all parts of the selection process, you must prove your suitability for the police force. 

Computer test or written recruitment test:

A PC-based test has primarily replaced the written recruitment test for the police selection process. But whether you take a computer test or a definitive test with paper and a ballpoint pen doesn’t make a big difference, as the content is roughly the same: general knowledge, language skills, mathematics, spatial and logical thinking, and concentration and memory skills are asked. In some recruitment procedures, all of these components are put into one extended test; in others, you must complete several tests with a specific focus. We have summarized everything you need to know about the computer test in the article The computer test in the police recruitment test.

Sports test:

Here you have to prove your physical fitness! Your running endurance is often tested with a Cooper test or some other type of endurance run. You can find out more about the Cooper test in our Police Cooper test table article. Often there is also an obstacle course in which you also show your coordination. Depending on the state, specific sports exercises (e.g. pull-ups, push-ups or bench presses) are often required. You may also need to prove your stamina in swimming. In most cases, you will at least required to present a German swimming badge. You can find out more about this in our article Police swimming badges and swimming tests. 

Interview or assessment centre:

The term “interview” doesn’t go that well with the interview that awaits you at the police station. It usually takes place after the computer-based test and the sports test. You introduce yourself here much more minor than systematically asked about various topics and judged based on them. So it’s something like an oral recruitment test.

You will ask questions about the self-assessment of your personality, your motivation and your résumé. You can also ask about current topics such as politics or your knowledge of the police. Additionally, if you are applying for senior service, you may need to go through an assessment centre. This primarily used to assess your social skills and your personality. 

At the assessment centre, you speak to a selection committee by yourself and carry out exercises and discussions with your competitors. Role-play games top-rated to assess teamwork and other social skills, but group discussions or the like not absurd either. You can find out more about the oral part of the recruitment test in our article Police interview.

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