Becoming a police officer takes a lot of work. Nearly all states today require people to obtain a special law enforcement certification before working on the force. Usually, this means attending police academy.
If you’re hoping for a career as an officer of the law, you’re probably wondering if you can afford the cost of training. Police academy is tuition free in some cases. Other times, it can be quite expensive. The cost depends on your state, the department you want to work for and how you’re hired. While the answer is that the cost depends on these factors, there are a few guidelines for a typical police academy cost.
Police Academy Set Up
Police academies run through a few different organizational systems. Sometimes, the department you want to work for runs their own training academy. This is the most likely to be the case when you go to work for a very large department, like the New York Police Department. In that case, everyone in your police academy hopes and plans to go to work for that department after training. A statewide police department such as state troopers are also some of the more likely departments to conduct their own, in-house training.
Other times, the state’s police oversight board organizes and conducts the training and students pay to attend. In most cases, the states either organize the training themselves, or they dictate what kinds of things have to be covered in the training. Universities or local community colleges sometimes host the training in conjunction with the state.
How Much Training?
Police academies range in the number of hours required and the time it takes to complete training. On the low end, it’s about three months and 300 hours of training. At the other end of the spectrum, some police academies are up to nine months long and require 800 hours of training. In California, there’s significant training in the laws on top of police academy requirements. Of course, the police academy cost depends in part on how long the training is.
The Actual Cost
If you end up paying for your tuition out of pocket, the cost varies. At the low end, it’s a little bit more than $2,000, total. For example, in Michigan, you can attend police academy at Grand Valley State University for a tuition and uniform total of $2,000. By contrast, the Central Texas Police Academy costs $4,725. Tuition can range up to $5,500, if you’re paying out of pocket. Sometimes, books and uniforms are extra and sometimes they’re included in your base fee.
How to Reduce the Cost
If you’re worried about the police academy cost, there are a few things that you can do. First, shop around. Just because you’re training to work in a state’s law enforcement force doesn’t necessarily mean that every tuition bill across the state is exactly the same. To the contrary, training academies want to attract the best and brightest students. They want their programs to thrive. For this reason, you might be surprised at how much costs can vary from program to program.
Also, it’s worth your while to investigate financial aid. Because many of these programs are run through universities, you might be able to qualify for need or merit-based aid. These grants of assistance are often similar to what you might receive if you apply to attend any program in the university or college.
Finally, investigate departments that might pay for you training. Large departments sometimes want to run their own programs to make sure that all of their new hires are trained the same way. In addition, large departments often need new officers enough to want to make their departments attractive for new hires. Sometimes, these departments hire first and train later. If you’re fortunate to land one of these jobs, you don’t pay for your own training at all.
Be Prepared For Other Costs
In addition to the basic tuition, uniforms and books, you might encounter a few other expenses along the way. There are a lot of tests that you have to go through such as medical and psychological exams, background checks and polygraph tests. Much, if not all, of this testing requires costs and fees. You must be prepared to pay fees here and there to cover these costs. The costs might come up at different times. If you have any questions, the academy you attend is the best place to search for answers and specifics.
In conclusion, police academy cost varies based on the training you attend and the length of the training. Fees can range from a couple to several thousand dollars. There are ways to reduce fees, such as applying to a law enforcement department that includes training for free for new hires, or seeking financial aid from the organization offering the training.