Police officers standing outside in uniform.

From the iconic image of the beat cop walking the neighborhood streets in classic movies to the high-octane action of modern police dramas, the role of a police officer has always held a certain allure. However, the reality of the profession is often far removed from these romanticized portrayals. It's not all about high-speed chases and solving complex crimes within an hour. The role of a police officer is multifaceted, challenging, and requires a unique set of skills and personality traits. 

Choosing a career is not just about what you want to do, but also about who you are. Let's delve into the world of policing and see if it aligns with your personality.

What Does a Police Officer Do?

At its core, the role of a police officer is to maintain law and order, protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, and improve the quality of life for all citizens. 

This broad definition encompasses a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. On a daily basis, a police officer might respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, patrol assigned areas, conduct traffic stops, issue citations, arrest suspects, write detailed reports, or testify in court.

The profession also offers a variety of specializations. From detectives who investigate crimes and gather evidence, to traffic officers who enforce vehicle laws, to community police officers who work closely with neighborhoods to address local issues, there is a diverse range of career paths within the police department.

What Are the Skills Needed to Become a Police Officer?

  1. Communication skills: Police officers need to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, from victims of crime to suspects and other law enforcement personnel. For example, an officer might need to de-escalate a tense situation through calm and clear dialogue or write a detailed report about an incident.
  2. Physical fitness: The job often requires physical exertion, such as chasing suspects or restraining individuals. 
  3. Problem-solving skills: Police work often involves complex situations that require quick thinking and sound judgment. Officers need to analyze situations rapidly and make decisions about the best course of action.
  4. Integrity: Police officers are expected to uphold the law and maintain high ethical standards. This includes honesty, fairness and respect for the rights of all individuals.
  5. Resilience: The job can be stressful and emotionally taxing. Officers need to manage stress effectively and maintain mental and emotional health.

Which Personality Types Make the Best Police Officers?

Certain personality traits can be particularly beneficial in the field of law enforcement. Using the Big Five personality traits and TypeFinder types as references, we can explore how personality might influence professional aptitude in policing.

Big Five Personality Traits of Police Officers

  1. Openness: Officers with high openness are likely to adapt well to unexpected circumstances and think creatively about problem-solving, and may be drawn to criminal investigation work. Officers with low openness may enjoy the more practical and hands-on nature of the job and may prefer the more routine work of a patrol officer. 
  2. Conscientiousness: Officers need to be reliable, organized and diligent. High conscientiousness can contribute to thorough case management and adherence to protocols.
  3. Extraversion: While not a requirement, extraversion can be beneficial in policing. Officers often work in teams and engage with the public, which can be energizing for extraverts.
  4. Agreeableness: Officers with high agreeableness may be effective in community policing roles, where cooperation, empathy and conflict-resolution skills are key. 
  5. Neuroticism: Lower levels of neuroticism may be beneficial for police officers, who often face stressful and potentially traumatic situations. Emotional stability can help officers manage these challenges effectively. 

You can take our Big Five personality test to see how these traits play out in your life.

TypeFinder Types of Police Officers

Certain TypeFinder types may find the profession more suitable. For instance, ESTJs and ISTJs, with their preference for structure, order and practical problem-solving, may excel in policing. ESFJs and ISFJs, with their strong interpersonal skills and focus on community, may thrive in community policing roles.

Take our TypeFinder assessment to find out your unique type.

How to Get Started Becoming a Police Officer

If you're considering a career in law enforcement, start by researching the profession thoroughly. Ride-alongs with local police departments and mentorship programs can provide valuable insights. Consider pursuing a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Physical fitness training and developing relevant skills, such as communication and problem-solving, can also be beneficial. 

Assessments like the Career Personality Profiler, Holland Code, and DISC can provide further insights into your career aptitude and personality.

Should I Become a Police Officer? 

Every personality has unique potential within the profession of policing. Whether you're drawn to the analytical challenges of detective work, the community engagement of neighborhood policing, or the structure and order of patrol duties, there's a place for you in this diverse field. 

Remember, choosing a career is not just about what you want to do, but also about who you are. So, take the time to understand yourself, your skills and your passions. Your unique personality could be the key to a fulfilling career in law enforcement. 

Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.