10 Steps to Joining the Force for Military Service Members

Police officers around SUV.

As the competition for coveted law enforcement positions increases throughout the country, police and federal recruiters have the luxury of picking and choosing the absolute best and brightest individuals. More often than not, police chiefs, sheriffs, and recruiters are turning to military veterans to fill these positions as they staff the next wave of warriors in the war on crime.

PoliceLink and Military.com have joined forces to provide our members - both active duty and veterans alike - with this exclusive, comprehensive guide to prepare you for a transition from your military background to your new and exciting career as a civilian law enforcement officer.

Related: Search for Law Enforcement jobs.

The complete guide is available for free on PoliceLink.com.

Step 1 - Choosing the Right Career

A common question relates to what a service member can do in order to best align their skills with those needed to succeed as a civilian law enforcement officer (LEO).

In this section, we'll help you figure out which areas of law enforcement your skills best suit you for. For active duty service members, this may help you determine whether or not you need to change your specialty in order to prepare you for the field you strive to be a part of. Read more...

Step 2 - Transition Made Easy - Timeline and Checklist

Starting your career search and transition early is critical. We've identified together the most important steps you need to start doing, starting one year before your military separation date. Read more...

Related: To create a personalized transition plan for yourself, and for transition guides and checklists, visit the Military.com Transition Center.

Step 3 - GI Bill

Military service is important. Add a college education and recruiters will be hard pressed to find a better candidate. Learn how to take full advantage of the GI Bill to get earn a degree in a criminal justice or related field to help put you on the top of every hiring agency's list of candidates. Read more...

Step 4 - Picking Your Department

There are many things to take into consideration when picking a department. Things like the type of law enforcement agency, proximity to where you want to live, or starting pay all are important factors. One of the biggest mistakes made by candidates is having their heart set on one specific department and refusing to apply anywhere else. As anyone with experience will tell you, this is a big no-no. Read more...

Step 5 - Meeting the Recruiter

Meeting a recruiter at a civilian agency is a little nerve racking. Although you should be proud of your military service, there are a few things you should remember when interacting with civilians - especially when your future career is at stake. Read through our ten tips for meeting a recruiter. Read more...

Step 6 - Applying for the Job

Applying for a job can often be nerve-racking. There are many unknowns that have be dealt with and overcome. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is standing out against the "competition." In this section we'll go over a few ways to highlight your military service to help you stand apart. Read more...

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

Step 7 - Exams

There are many companies out there that offer study guides for law enforcement entrance exams. If the recruiter you spoke to recommended one over another - buy it and study it from cover to cover. The exam is often times your key into the rest of the application process. Do good, because if you're applying with multiple agencies, you can expect that your results will be shared amongst the recruiters. Read more...

Step 8 - Background Check

The background check may be the most invasive experience you've ever had in your life. Everything about you will be checked out. Your character, your finances, your driving and criminal records, to name just a few. The information here will help you prepare for the background investigation. Read more...

Step 9 - Fitness

This special law enforcement fitness was written exclusively for PoliceLink by former Navy SEAL and law enforcement fitness expert Stew Smith, CSCS. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Stew has written several best selling fitness and self defense books, including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, Maximum Fitness, and SWAT Workout. Read more...

Step 10 - Common Hurdles Faced by Veterans

If you're like most military service members, you've spent your entire working career in the military. You know how it works and you know how to work with it. Getting out and entering the civilian world can be daunting to think about. You'll hit your fair share of hurdles along the way. As long as you expect them, they should be easier to overcome. Read more...

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, including jobs related to government, visit the Military.com Job Search section.

The Next Step: Find the Right Veteran Job

Whether you want to polish up your resume, find veteran job fairs in your area, or connect with employers looking to hire veterans, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have job postings, guides and advice, and more delivered directly to your inbox.

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