What Training Is Required to Become a SWAT Team Member?

Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams are comprised of volunteers from within the police force who have advanced rescue, firearms, and medical response skills. If you're interested in becoming a SWAT team member, you must meet experience requirements and undergo specialized training. The training requirements for becoming a SWAT team member can be found below. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Training Requirements

To become a SWAT team member, you must be a police officer and possess full knowledge of police policies and procedures. You must also be in excellent physical shape and demonstrate advanced firearms proficiency. SWAT teams generally respond to high-risk situations and members may work in a specialized position such as sniper, crisis negotiator, grenadier, or tactical emergency medical responder.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Salary (2014) $56,810 for all police and sheriff patrol officers
Job Growth 5% growth between 2012 and 2022 for all police and detectives
Required Education Varies; a high school diploma or degree may be required to become police officer
Related Occupations Crisis Negotiator Team (CNT), Special Response Tactical Unit (SRT), Drill and Ceremony Team (DCT)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Become a Police Officer

The first step to becoming a SWAT team member is to join the police force and complete police academy training. Training usually lasts an average of 19 weeks. You can expect to complete courses in state and federal law, local ordinances, civil rights, accident investigation, traffic control, firearms, emergency response, self-defense, and patrol.

Additional Experience

Different police departments have different requirements for SWAT applicants. Generally speaking , you will need to have served on the police force for a minimum of one to three years to be considered for the SWAT team (though some police departments may require additional years of experience). During this period, you can prepare for meeting the minimum SWAT application standards by sharpening your shooting abilities, studying tactical operations, and increasing your physical fitness.

Team Application

After you apply to the SWAT team, you'll undergo several tests during the selection process. You must pass a rigorous physical fitness test and psychological evaluation, plus a firearms test to demonstrate proficiency in firearm usage and knowledge of weapon mechanics. You may also be interviewed by a review board and undergo an extensive background check.


Once you're selected to participate in the SWAT training process, you'll go through multiple phases of SWAT training, from basic to specialized to advanced. Training areas include crowd control, high-risk arrests, detainment, room clearing, sniping, small arms usage, hostage negotiation and recovery, obstacle courses, rappelling, and defensive driving. Most departments require continuous mandatory training as long as you're a member of the SWAT team.

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