Law enforcement careers are exciting, rewarding, and even fun. In fact, there are countless reasons to be a police officer. From benefits to job security, the attraction to policing is easy to understand. Before you take the leap and try this new career in protecting our community, here are some of the basics to become a police officer.

There are a lot of hard aspects to the job, but there are far more benefits. As difficult as the process can be at times, it’s all worth it in the end when you get to have a part in helping others and making your community a better, safer place. No matter how hard it gets, a job as a police officer is by far one of the most rewarding jobs available, and may just be the perfect career for you.


  • Age 21 not yet 35 (Veterans over age 35 should refer to state statute 65 ILCS 5/10-2.1-6)
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Residency: Establish and maintain principle domicile within the counties of: Illinois – Madison, Jersey,Macoupin, St Clair; Missouri – St Louis, St Charles
  • Applicants must pass a physical agility examination (POWER Test) as well as a general aptitude written examination.
  • Oral examination by the Civil Service Commission is required.  Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a thorough background check, psychological examination, and physical examination.

In order to be eligible to take the general aptitude written examination, the entry-level police officer applicant must first submit a complete application and proof of passing the physical agility examination (POWER Test). Once the complete application and proof of POWER Test completion are submitted, the applicant is eligible to take the general aptitude written examination. Entry-level police officer applicants are then placed on a hiring list based on the score of their general aptitude written examination and any qualifying military/preference points.

The Alton Police Department currently relies upon the Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) POWER Test program for police officer applicants looking to obtain the necessary proof of completion for the POWER Test.

Click here for information on POWER Test requirements, registration, testing locations, testing dates, etc.

Click here for Entry Level information flyer.



Illinois police officers usually begin their career by obtaining their police academy certification. Illinois police academies are 640 hours of training. The academies are typically 16-week programs. A person/officer is not certified to work as a police officer until he has obtained the police officer academy certification. If a person has obtained an Illinois certification through an Illinois Correction Academy, this does not waive the Illinois Police academy. These academies are completely different academies.

Click here to navigate to further information about the Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) Police Academy.


Once an officer has completed an Illinois police academy and passed the State of Illinois certification exam, he is a certified Illinois police officer. It would not be necessary for him to attend another Illinois police academy if another Illinois police department later hires him. The board maintains all Illinois police officers’ certifications.


A person that desires to become an Illinois police officer and is certified as a police officer in another state, maybe hired as an Illinois police officer, however, there are restrictions. First, an Illinois police department must hire an officer. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board will review the officer’s prior training records and police academy training. The board will determine if the “out of state officers” training and academy will be sufficient to waive the Illinois police academy.

If the board does not waive the Illinois police academy, the officer will have to complete the entire Illinois police academy. If the board does waive the Illinois police academy the officer will only be required to complete certain mandatory training to become a certified Illinois police officer. If the officer has the Illinois academy waived, usually he will only be required to complete a (40) forty-hour Illinois criminal law police course, mandatory firearms course, and other courses to certify or re-certify him in certain fields.

All waiver candidates must pass a 200-question equivalence exam with a passing score of at least 70%. If all of the requirements are not met, the officer will be required to attend the full Illinois basic academy.


Upon successful completion of the police academy, the newly certified police officer returns to the Alton Police Department to begin the Field Training Officer (FTO) program. This is a specific program that all new hires are assigned and must complete. The Field Training Officers (FTOs) are patrol division police officers that agree to train the new police officers. The FTOs follow a training outline for each week that a recruit is assigned to them. With assigned weekly training, each recruit will receive the assigned training during their training program, even when they are transferred to a different FTO. Each recruit will receive the same assigned weekly training, even when several different FTOs are used for training recruits.

The FTO program recruit is typically (16) sixteen weeks. Each recruit will have a minimum of two different FTO’s. The recruit will be assigned to one FTO for the first (8) eight weeks, then he will be transferred to a different FTO for the second (8) eight week period. The FTOs evaluate their assigned recruit each week. The recruit will work with the FTO on the streets for a minimum of sixteen weeks, before the recruit may start working the streets as a solo patrol officer.

For further information about becoming a police officer, you can contact Deputy Chief of Police John Franke , at 618.463.3505 ext. 648 or email him at