The P.O.S.T. is an exam that tests many things, from an understanding of local laws to the appropriate use of force and if you want to be a Police Officer, the short answer is “Yes”. You’ll need to obtain a certification from the Police Officers Standards and Training board in order to serve as a Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff, or State Trooper.
What is the P.O.S.T. exactly and do I need it in order to work as a police officer? P.O.S.T. stands for Police Officer Standards and Training and each state has its own governing board that certifies the training and standards for police officers in their respective states. These boards work to provide a minimum standard of training for all law enforcement agencies within the state, in order to ensure that local departments are on the same page and learning the same material.
After completing a certified police academy and successfully passing the P.O.S.T. exam, typically given at the end of the Academy, your reward for hard work is a P.O.S.T. certificate. In some states, you also need to complete a probationary period before the certificate is issued. This certificate provides you with the legal police powers to enforce local and state laws within your jurisdiction.
Once you have a Basic P.O.S.T. certificate, you can work to obtain advanced certificates via experience and college education credits. These additional certifications allow you to work in supervisory positions and advance your career as a police officer.
Now that you know what the P.O.S.T. exam is, and that you need to take it, let’s get into some of the nitty-gritty details as to why you need it and how it will help you in your journey to becoming a Police Officer.
How Do I Get a P.O.S.T. Certification?
There are a couple of ways to earn a P.O.S.T. certificate. First off, you can apply to a local police department or sheriff’s office and complete their hiring process. In most cases, once hired on, they will pay for your training at the police academy and once you graduate, you’ll already have a job lined up. Another option is to put yourself through an academy and once you’re near the finish line, police departments will come to you and seek you out, based on your performance in the academy.
While in the Academy you can expect to take courses on Penal and Vehicle code, accident investigation, emergency vehicle operations, first aid, defensive tactics, and spend time becoming familiar and comfortable handling firearms safely. Each of these courses will typically culminate in an exam to help reinforce what you’ve learned and develop the experience needed for the P.O.S.T. Exam.
The P.O.S.T. Exam itself is generally given at the end of the police academy and will require your full attention and effort. Make sure that you’re paired up in study groups and helping your fellow classmates out well before the test date!
Like anything in life, if you have a goal you are working to achieve, you should know what you’re in for and what steps will be needed to meet that goal. Likewise, in becoming a police officer, it’s important to know the requirements of the P.O.S.T. certificate when starting out in your journey. You should be aware that past criminal convictions and illegal drug use can be an immediate disqualifier.
When you’re looking for a local police department to join, search their website for job postings and read through all of their requirements and disqualifiers. It’s also important to know the state requirements for obtaining a P.O.S.T. certificate. If you are looking to work in California, for example, you’ll need to complete a certified police academy and also successfully complete the hiring agency’s training program and a probationary period before receiving your certificate. In other states, once you complete a certified academy, the P.O.S.T. certificate is granted upon graduation. Make sure to educate yourself on your state’s requirements and expectations for when you complete the police academy, it’s never good to be caught blind-sided!
How Long is a P.O.S.T. Certification good for?
The P.O.S.T. Certification remains valid as long as you’re gainfully employed by a law enforcement agency in the state in which it was issued. If you decide to leave police work for a few years and find yourself wanting to return, say 4 years later, it may have expired. Most states allow for a lapse of 3 years in employment from a police department before needing recertification.
If you decide to move to another state in which you are not certified, you may be able to transfer your certification over without completing another police academy. The new state will likely ask you to provide a copy of your current P.O.S.T. certificate along with any post-academy training in order to make a determination on your eligibility for a certificate in their state. This is important to consider if you are thinking about moving to a new state and continuing a career as a police officer.
In some cases, you may also need to complete a Basic Course Waiver (BCW) or a shortened academy, which will help you get familiarized with the local and state laws in your new home state. It’s important to remember that vehicle and penal code violations can vary greatly by state, you wouldn’t want to pull someone over for something that’s perfectly legal!
Curious about what exam to take next? Find out here: https://civilservicehq.com/cfpt-vs-fsot-whats-the-difference/
Can my P.O.S.T. Certification be revoked?
Yes, if you act illegally, commit crimes, or otherwise act in a way unbecoming of a Police Officer, you can lose your P.O.S.T. Certification. The governing body in your respective state can revoke P.O.S.T. certifications and police powers to deal with issues of malfeasance, dishonesty, criminal acts, and more. It allows for the state to protect the public from police officers who have acted inappropriately or illegally either in their personal life or while on-duty.
Police Officers are held to a higher standard and must remember that they are representatives of their department, local community, and the profession as a whole. Police Officers who abuse their power for their own good and/or commit criminal acts are likely to be judged harshly for their choices.
Each year the P.O.S.T. board reviews cases of police officers from across the state, sometimes requiring them to attend in person and provide testimony to their actions. The P.O.S.T. board then decides on the validity of claims against the officers and issues disciplinary orders, if warranted. Some cases are dismissed without action and others result in the police officer losing their P.O.S.T. certification, which means they can no longer be a police officer in that state. These cases are public records and may be found online.
Once your P.O.S.T. Certification is revoked, it’s unlikely to be reinstated and you may be better off looking for a new line of work.
If you’ve ever watched police cars zip by, lights ablaze and sirens roaring and wondered “I wonder where they are going and what they’re up to”, a career in police work may be for you, Police Officers need to be naturally curious and want to find out the truth, in every situation. Protecting the local community and providing helpful services to the public is why police departments exist.
If you’ve decided that you’d like to pursue a career in law enforcement, becoming P.O.S.T. Certified in your state is the first step to a rewarding career of service.
Understanding the steps involved in receiving this certification and maintaining it while employed as a Police Officer is crucial to a long and successful career. The P.O.S.T. certificate ensures that officers are held to a minimum standard of training across the state and that local agencies can reliably work together and expect to have similar tactics and training.
Earning a P.O.S.T. Certificate is a milestone achievement in any new police officer’s life and should be celebrated! It is also the issuing of a great amount of responsibility and public trust, which you must work to earn each time you put on the uniform. If you find yourself looking into a career as a Police Officer, you can also contact your local police department for information on their hiring process and speak to a recruiter. Recruiters will work with you and help answer all of your questions prior to starting the hiring process.
The process of becoming a Police Officer is long and can be grueling at times, but the career is extremely rewarding and will provide you with experiences that most people could never imagine!
How can I study for the P.O.S.T. Exam?
Each state and governing board has their own exam and it may be difficult to find study guides specific for that state. However, if you want to get a good idea of what the P.O.S.T. Exam may look like, you can always refer to study guides which are available for the initial police officer exams.
These study guides are readily available online and offer a good starting point. Police Officer Exam study guide books are very helpful to review and complete while in the hiring process with a local department. Many times you will need to take a preliminary test to move forward in the hiring process. These exams cover basic topics such as report writing, observation, your ability to remember details and more.
The P.O.S.T. Exam, which is administered at the conclusion of a police academy, is similar, but will include many more topics and cover them in much more depth. Your training at the academy will prepare you well for this test. Make sure that you are taking good notes during lectures and asking questions when you don’t fully understand something. Doing these things will be very helpful as you study for the P.O.S.T. Exam.
How long does the P.O.S.T. exam take?
The P.O.S.T. Exam, which is a test given at the end of a police academy, can take anywhere from 3-6 hours. During your time at the academy, your instructors will work hard to ensure that you receive the training and information needed to be successful on this exam. Typically, you will spend a few weeks preparing for the exam, participating in study groups and working through scenarios together.
To learn how to best prepare and study for your police exam click here.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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