The maintenance of law and order in every soc0iety is a top priority.  The responsibility for ensuring law and order falls upon the shoulders of law enforcement officials, including police officers. A police officer is an individual who has gone through extensive training in order to qualify as a sworn defender of the peace. Their job requires them to carry out a large number of duties, all with the principal aim of ensuring that the community is safe, stable and abiding by the laws that govern it.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there are four steps to becoming a police officer:

  1. Meet the minimum qualification requirements
  2. Complete the required training required for a police officer
  3. Pass the State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE)
  4. Become employed as a sworn officer of a Florida Police Department
What Do Police Officers Do?
How Do You Become a Police Officer in Florida

What Do Police Officers Do?

Typically, a police officer may carry out some, or all, of the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Investigate crimes and crime scenes
  • Apprehend criminals and offenders
  • Provide emergency assistance to injured parties
  • Obtain evidence and secure interviews from witnesses
  • Patrol certain neighborhoods or parts of the city
  • Educate the community on crime prevention and awareness
  • Testify in court

Why Become a Police Officer in Florida?

If you’re interested in a career in law enforcement, it is likely that you may be toying with the idea of becoming a police officer. Why should you become a police officer in Florida? The Sunshine State boasts a number of benefits for aspiring police officers. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Florida is the state with the fourth highest employment levels for police officers after New York, Texas, and California. The state also enjoys good weather year round and has a number of different communities with different employment opportunities and challenges.

What Are the Minimum Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Florida?

Although the qualification requirements in Florida are similar to those in other states, Florida is stricter in its certification requirements for police officers. Moreover, listed below are the overall state requirements for applying to become a police officer. These requirements may vary at county levels and so, it is important that you check with the police department you intent to apply to.

The minimum qualifications are established in Florida Statutes 943.13 and are as follows:

Applicants must:

  • Be at least 19 years old
  • Have citizenship of the United States
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a clean criminal record – meaning no conviction of any felony or misdemeanor involving perjury or false statement
  • Give processed fingerprints for the employing agency to keep on file
  • Pass a physical examination
  • Submit to a background investigation in order to prove you are of good moral character
  • Not have received a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States

How Long Does It Take To Become a Police Officer in Florida?

The time that it takes to become a police officer in Florida will necessarily vary from applicant to applicant, depending upon their individual history. Training times may also vary depending upon their individual performance. To get a clearer idea of the time frame you may be looking at, it is advisable that you contact the particular police department you wish to apply to.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Police Officer in Florida?

  • Meet all the minimum qualification requirements

These are all listed above and must be satisfied.

  • Complete required training
  • New applicants seeking to become officers or individuals who are embarking on a discipline crossovers are required to complete the Basic Abilities Test (BAT) before entering a basic recruit training program. BAT is available in most schools and the results are valid up to 4 years.
  • The next step is to complete the Basic Recruit Program or a Certified Crossover Training Program. Both of these training programs must be completed in a commission certified training school.
  • Pass the State Officer Certification Examination (SOCE)

Applicants can take this test up to three times in order to get a passing score. You must register for this test online at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.

  • Become employed as a sworn police officer

After all of the above requirements have been satisfied, candidates must submit to:

  • An interview
  • A background investigation
  • Polygraph test
  • Medical examination, including vision and hearing
  • Psychological evaluation

Once successfully cleared, the applicant is eligible for a “Certificate of Compliance”, which is issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Records Section.

Prospective Salary and Job Outlook

BLS data indicates that the rate of employment growth in this field, or job outlook, is 5% between 2012 and 2022. Police officer jobs in Florida, however, are expected to increase at the rate of +9% for the same time period, according to O*NET OnLine. There is always a steady demand for police officers due to the important role they play in society.

With regards to prospective salary, data from O*NET OnLine illustrates that in Florida, the median annual salary for:

  • Police and Sherriff’s Patrol Officers was $55,100 in 2013
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators was $63,400 in 2013

Police officers are an integral part of any community. They play an important and demanding role when it comes to ensuring the safety and stability of their communities. There are a number of steps, which must be taken if a career in law enforcement is what you are considering. In addition, you must submit to selection tests and extensive training. If becoming a police officer in Florida is your goal, use the information here to help you achieve your career aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: According to Florida law, what requirements must all applicants satisfy?

Ans: To become a police officer in Florida, all applicants must be at least 19 years old, have US citizenship, hold a high school diploma or GED, and have a clean criminal record. Applicants will also be asked to give their fingerprints, pass a physical examination, submit to a background check, and prove that they haven’t been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a police officer in Florida?

Ans: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has the fourth highest employment opportunities for prospective police officers in the country. Working in great weather is an added advantage in being a police officer in Florida.