You may have heard the saying, “nothing worth having comes easy.” This statement can easily be applied to the training that is required to become a police officer.
Police academy training includes both classroom and practical training and requires a great deal of dedication and discipline.
But exactly how hard is the police academy? In this article, we’ll cover some common questions about police academies and the training that is required.
What is covered in police academy training?
Police academy training (RCMP) and police recruit training (municipal police) covers a wide range of skills that are taught in both classroom and practical settings.
Some skills that are covered in police academy training include:
- Firearms handling and proficiency
- Police vehicle operations
- Defense tactics and safety training
- Pepper spray training
- Taser training
- Baton training
- Arrest control techniques
- Police sciences
- Investigation fundamentals
- Criminal investigations
- Traffic safety
- Call and patrol simulation training
- Communication and de-escalation training
- Physical fitness and endurance
- Legal studies
- Report writing and notetaking
- Court testimony-witness training
- Drill-etiquette and formal marching
How long are police in the academy?
RCMP officers can expect to be in the training academy for 26 weeks, while a Police Officer’s training academy can range from 13 to 34 weeks, depending on the city they are in.
Some police academies will break up their training into sections. For example, many municipalities in British Columbia break down their training into three blocks. New Westminster Police training consists of Block I (13 weeks), Block II (13-17 weeks), and Block III (8 weeks).
Do you get to go home during police academy?
Depending on where you train to be a police officer, you may or may not get to go home during police academy. For RCMP, your training troop of 32 cadets live at an on-site facility called The Depot for the full duration of training.
While a few municipal training academies have recruits live on the grounds during training, most academies have recruits go home at night. If you are training at an academy where you live on the grounds, going home during the training can be very difficult to balance as it is quite exhausting, both mentally and physically.
Can you work while in the police academy?
Working while attending police academy training is likely not permitted under terms of employment as you will start being paid following the completion of your training. The training itself is a full-time commitment and requires a great deal of physical and mental energy.
Is the Police Academy harder than basic training?
The short answer to this question is that it depends. This comparison largely depends on the academy you’re looking at. Most police academies are known to be more difficult than basic training, but it can depend on where you study.
Basic training teaches the core skills and knowledge to succeed in a military environment. It requires hard work and determination.
Basic military training courses include:
- Basic military skills
- Weapons handling
- First aid
- Ethical values
Additionally, a large part of the military course is spent on fitness training.
Basic military training is a 10-week program that includes class time, field time, and physical training. With the majority of the time being spent on classwork. Basic training requires a commitment to 17-hour days, and there are no guaranteed days off during the 10-week program.
What are the police academy exams like?
In most academies, candidates have to take a handful of tests (sometimes up to 14 written exams) that cover reasoning, memory, English language, math, and more. There are usually an additional four practical tests on firearms, defense tactics, driving, and first aid. Academy tests are varied and challenging. They will push you mentally and physically and have been known to be quite stressful.
Police academy exams will be different depending on where you are training. The RCMP exam will be different from provincial exams and each provincial exam will be different from other provinces.
But there are some commonalities that can help you prepare for success, no matter which department you’re vying for.
How to succeed during police academy training
Achieving success during police academy requires a high level of discipline, determination, and focus.
Some basic tips for success when going through academy training include:
- Get into really good shape (and don’t forget to stretch to avoid injury!)
- Clear your personal and professional schedule
- Study and stay on top of your classwork
- Practice your skills outside of training time (e.g. visit a shooting range if possible)
- Exercise good time management
- Build relationships with fellow candidates
- Find ways to reduce stress (e.g. meditation)
- Get plenty of sleep (as much as possible)
Following these tips will go a long way in the academy and help you turn your goal of becoming a police officer into reality.
LEARN MORE: How to Prepare for the Police Academy.
Is it worth it?
If you’ve asked an officer about the training academy, you’ve probably heard a similar response: “It was mentally and physically draining, but it was completely worth it!”
Many officers will remember their training as incredibly challenging but find their job exceedingly rewarding. The relationships that are built during training can turn into lifelong bonds and friendships. Plus, the skills learned in the academy are essential to the job once you get started.
Looking to get into a career in policing? Check out some of our Paladin to Policing stories.
How to gain experience before becoming a police officer
If you are looking to start your careers in law enforcement but don’t want to make the financial and time commitment to the academy just yet, you have options.
For example, many aspiring police officers start their careers in security to gain experience that will help get them into law enforcement careers.
Paladin Security offers exceptional training, which gives police academy candidates a leg up.
Paladin offers training that is done in partnership with local law enforcement like the Vancouver Police Department, with our security officers training alongside real police officers in skills such as combat fighting techniques like jujitsu.
Paladin Security officer training includes:
- Basic Security Training (BST)
- Management of Aggressive Behaviour (MOAB)
- Active shooter situations
- Investigations and crime scene protection
- Note-taking and report writing
- Radio use
- Mobile alarm response (this is one of the most similar positions to law enforcement. It involves driving around in a vehicle and responding to calls - so every day is different.)
- Responding to opioid overdoses
- Traffic control methods
- Pre-assignment security officer training (e.g. healthcare-specific training for Healthcare Security Officers)
- Security officer orientation and sight training (when an officer starts on a job, they receive on-site training to ensure they feel equipped with all the necessary information to perform their job properly and to the fullest ability)
Our highly advanced and specialized in-house training is provided by certified trainers who conduct a mandatory 40-hour session on knowledge and skills. Officers may also receive extra training, up to 120 hours, depending on-site requirements. We also offer ongoing company-paid training courses for Paladin staff that are highly encouraged. Security Officer training is offered at our local branches across Canada. We have several training facilities that include crash mats, safety and first aid equipment, desk, and testing space, plus hundreds of courses that are available online. Training duration can range from a few hours online to a week, depending on the course. Paladin’s training comes at no cost to all employees.
If you want a quick way to get into a career that doesn’t waste your time, consider joining Paladin to jumpstart your career in law enforcement.