How to Become a Narcotics Officer: Requirements & Training

Learn the steps required to become a narcotics officer. Read for an overview of the education, required skills, training process and salary expectations. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Narcotics Officer Overview

Narcotics officers are police officers tasked with pursuing drug-related crimes. They sometimes work undercover to communicate with suspects and gather evidence. They are also tasked with documenting incidents, preparing reports and making arrests related to drug offenses. The table below is a general overview on the position and steps required to pursue a career in this field.

Education Requirements Depends on the state; bachelor's degree preferred
Education fields Law enforcement, criminal justice or related
Training Required Police officer and narcotics training
Skills Active listening, critical thinking, attention to detail
Average Salary (2018) $61,380 (for all police and sheriff's patrol officers)*
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 7% (for all police and sheriff's patrol officers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Begin the Process?

Narcotics officers are police officers who have been assigned to the narcotics unit in their jurisdiction. Because the application process differs depending on the state, county, or city, you should refer to the website associated with the department you are looking to join to learn about the application process. The first step involves clearing a background check where the department will ensure you have no criminal record and review your employment and academic history.

What Are the Education Requirements?

The education requirements for police officer training vary by state. Though some states require candidates to have an associate's or bachelor's degree, some do not ask for a college education. In general terms, you can complete the necessary training by attending a Peace Officer Standings and Training-certified institution to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, or by joining a police academy approved by the government of your jurisdiction.

What Else Should I Expect From The Application Process?

After completing your training program, there are commonly two additional steps before being accepted into a police force. The first is obtaining a license, which involves passing the Peace Officer Standings and Training test (POST). The second is completing and successfully passing a psychological evaluation, which could involve written tests and interviews depending on the state.

How Do I Join the Narcotics Department as a Trained Police Officer?

Once you are accepted as a licensed police officer, you should demonstrate your interest in narcotics-related work by pursuing formal training from your state's narcotics officers association. Each state association has different training programs that will introduce you to the general skills and knowledge related to narcotics law enforcement. You can also ask officers already in the narcotics department for special projects they don't have time to cover. This will help you demonstrate your interest and potentially get more assignments in the future.

What Should I Expect to Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes narcotics officers under the category for police and sheriff's patrol officers. In 2018, they estimated a median annual salary of $61,380 for employees in this category. They expect a career growth of 7% between 2016 and 2026, which is on par with the average for all occupations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »