Can I Become a Police Officer with a Sociology Degree?

If you’re looking into a career as a police officer, you may be wondering how helpful a sociology degree could be in preparing you for that career. It may in fact be quite helpful, although it is not the only degree that could prove useful in preparing to become a police officer. In fact, not all police officers have a college degree, as there is no national standard of education required for police officers. Level of preparation will vary a good deal from state to state.

Basic Educational Requirements for Police Officers

In general, the required education for a police officer is a high school diploma or an equivalent GED. Only two states, Minnesota and Wisconsin, require an associate’s college degree. However, individual police departments may choose to require education beyond the state minimum, and some do. About one percent of police departments mandate a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, while about 15% require at least some level of college education. Those agencies requiring higher education typically are in larger, urban areas, but it can be a good idea to find out the specific requirements in your area so that you can be well prepared.

Types of Degrees That Might Be Helpful

Although a college degree it not necessarily required to begin a police career, it can be helpful. In addition, many police officers go on to complete degrees during their career that enhance their knowledge and skills. Some agencies will even help officers complete degrees by offering tuition assistance. There are a variety of degrees that might be helpful for a police officer to pursue, and a sociology degree is certainly among them. Sociology is a relevant topic of study because it helps you to gain a better understanding of how communities and families function and interrelate, and the types of potential conflicts that can arise among and between different kinds of communities. If an officer is trained to have a deeper understanding of factors that affect community dynamics such as race, economics and diverse social customs, then that officer may be better equipped to deal professionally and confidently when problems and challenges arise in local communities.

A criminal justice degree may be the more common degree for potential police officers to pursue. Still, sociology is one of the subjects that you might study within a criminal justice degree, along with psychology, law and public administration. Political science is another degree that some potential or actual police officers pursue.

In general, the type of degree you pursue may end up being less important than the dedication that you show in choosing to complete a degree at all. While a college degree can be helpful in your policing career goals, since it’s not always necessary, the fact that you’ve decided to work toward one will likely be seen as an important professional step. You should be able to find practical encouragement and assistance to help you gain more education. That may include advice from other professionals and mentors about the kind of degree that might be most helpful. If you already have a sociology degree, it can certainly be a stepping stone toward a career as a police officer.