How Do I Become a SWAT?

If you are a good leader, make excellent decisions and have the ambition to learn specialized skills, you might be wondering how to become a SWAT. Police officers who work on SWAT, special weapons and tactics, teams are highly experienced uniformed law enforcement personnel who handle intense events, such as hostage situations and terrorist threats. SWAT team members must calmly make good decisions under pressure and be capable of handling heavy-duty firearms.

Like other police officers, SWAT officers patrol traffic and intervene in emergencies. They arrest suspects thought to have committed crimes. Unlike other members of law enforcement agencies, SWAT team members have advanced training in the use of firearms and handling crisis situations. SWAT officers must be in excellent physical condition and be emotionally stable to solve volatile problems in ways that minimize the risk to citizens.

When preparing for a career as a SWAT team member, candidates should consider earning a college degree. While some law enforcement agencies will hire candidates who hold only a high school diploma, the police officers who become part of SWAT teams are those with a lot of experience and advanced training. Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or law enforcement is one way aspiring SWAT officers can gain a competitive edge even before they begin their professional careers.

Though a college degree is an asset in finding a job and eventually advancing to a SWAT unit, much of a police officer’s training happens at a police academy. Upon being selected for a position, a newly-hired police officer will attend a police academy to learn the procedures for handling emergency situations, using firearms, giving first aid care and patrolling as well as laws and ethics. Once they become part of the law enforcement agencies, aspiring SWAT members should strive to excel on the job. They should undertake as many types of training as possible and display exemplary job performance. After several years of dedicated work as part of a police force, candidates may be eligible for advancement to a SWAT unit. Written and physical fitness tests may be required for advancing to this specialized position.

Police officers and detectives collectively earn a median salary of $55,010 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because SWAT team officers typically have already put in several years of experience as law enforcement personnel before being assigned to the specialized SWAT unit, they often earn wages at the higher end of the spectrum as compared to less-experienced officers. While promotion to the SWAT team may not necessarily be accompanied by a pay increase, the role allows officers to learn specialized skills, like the operation of numerous types of firearms. If you have the desire to protect citizens in the face of high-risk criminal situations and the dedication to earn that opportunity by working hard for years as a uniformed officer, knowing how to become a SWAT could be your first step toward an exciting new career.

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