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Part Time vs. Full Time Academy?


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  • Part Time vs. Full Time Academy?

    Curious the thoughts out there regarding going to the academy full or part time. If I am not selected by a department, and end up putting myself through an academy, does it make a difference? The reason I ask is that financially I doubt I could do it full time on my own, but taking the part time for about a year could fit nicely into my schedule.

    Do departments care, or are they simply looking for the certification? I am sure the course work is the same, but would departments consider it being completed at a lower intensity level? I am new to the process in Wisconsin only living here a couple years, just curious what thoughts are out there.

  • #2
    As far as I know, you get the same "certifiable" (you're only "certified" when you're hired by a department) status whether you do the full-time academy or the other one. I'm not exactly sure how the "part-time" academy works... since I did the full-time academy.


    • #3
      Completing the FT academy will get you into the main stream faster.

      Whether you complete a PT or FT academy you're given the same certifiable status. I think doing what works best for you is best. I have not seen where it matters to a Department what academy you went to as long as you are qualified.
      He who makes no mistakes, usually makes nothing at all.


      • #4
        Your options for where to apply multiply by about 20 (rough estimate, but I also think an accurate one) once you are certifiable. You grin and bear it for 13 weeks, and have tons of options in terms of where to apply, or you keep looking into a few departments that will put you through academy and hope you get hired there.

        I was fortunate enough to find a department that paid for me to go to academy, and paid me to go there. I was a full time firefighter for 8 years before getting this job. I have a daughter, a wife, and tons of bills. I had enough money lying around where I could go to academy, but not enoung to NOT have a job waiting for me once I got out of academy. Im also living in the Wausau area, where jobs are more scarce then places like Dane County or the Milwaukee and Fox Valley areas.

        I had the opportunity to go through academy when I was about 20 or so on my parent's dime. They even offered to pay for my rent and share of the bills with my roommate while i was there, and I said no. The reason I didnt was because I figured quitting a $7.25/hr job was going to be too costly for me in the long run. In hindsight, it worked out ok for me, but I was a total fool for not taking my family up on that offer when I had no family, and lived mostly on Ramen noodles and in a run-down apartment.

        Long story short, only you can decide what's best for you. If you have family and they depend on you for financial support, then I dont want to be the guy telling you to quit your job and focus on academy. Not everyone (even people who get through academy) are cut out to be police officers. Sitting behind a computer screen, i cant tell if you are one of those people or not. If you can find a way to get through financially for 13 weeks, then go for it. If you need to max out your credit cards and ring up tons of debt to make it happen, then dont. One thing I will tell you is that scenarios at the end of academy test a LOT of your skills you learn during academy. Retaining information for 13 weeks is typically easier than retaining that same info over the course of a year. BUT, you get a TON of info thrown at you for 13 weeks, where getting that same info over a year might help you sort it all out and understand it better. The 13 week academy is like need to be ahead and on top of the wave of info you're getting. If you fall behind, that wave will come crashing down on you, and you'll either drown or be spit out of the wave.

        I hope this information helps. Ultimately, I hope you realize that only YOU can decide what's best for your situation. We dont know your situation enough to decide that for you.


        • #5
          I did Blackhawk Tech's PT academy. It was the only option for me, as I had no way to be away from my FT career for 13 weeks of academy. BTC's program is a year-long program that met 2x/week from 6p-10p with 2 or 3 weekend classes. They also did a daytime academy with a similar schedule. This was 7 years ago -- I don't know if they've changed that at all. I believe Fox Valley also does a PT academy, but I've been told it met on weekends instead of evenings.

          In my experience, doing the PT academy had no ill-effect on my ability to find a position. In fact, I was hired about a month before the end of my academy. As was mentioned previously, the certification is the same regardless of whether you do FT or PT academy.

          I think some people who are not familiar with the WI system hear 'part-time academy' and think the training is somehow different, or that you can only get a job as a part-time officer when it's complete. Completely false, on both accounts.

          Here are the advantages of BTC's part-time academy, from my point-of-view:

          1. I could work my day job, then drive to Janesville for class and be home by 11p on class nights.

          2. The training was split up into modules (Law, Firearms, EVOC, etc.). We focused on one module at a time, which made it easier for studying and homework.

          3. BIG PLUS! We paid by the module. So I didn't have to write out one big check at the start of the academy. Instead, I paid for each module as it began. Much easier on the family budget. Module costs ran from as low as $80 to around $300+. Total cost of the academy was around $2k.

          4. We had a small class size, with only about a dozen students. This gave us greater access to instructors and plenty of reps for scenario training, vehicle operations and more.

          If you have any specific questions about BTC's program, feel free to PM me.


          • #6
            I have a question regarding this. I am currently in Iraq and will return to the states in February. I am originally from Wisconsin and will return in early May. I was thinking about going to MATC for Police Science while trying to get onto the MPD. Any type of school or classes I go to will be paid by the Army. What is the best route for me to go to get on to a department fast. Thanks


            • #7
              Originally posted by SGT Ireland View Post
              I have a question regarding this. I am currently in Iraq and will return to the states in February. I am originally from Wisconsin and will return in early May. I was thinking about going to MATC for Police Science while trying to get onto the MPD. Any type of school or classes I go to will be paid by the Army. What is the best route for me to go to get on to a department fast. Thanks
              If your goal is to work for MPD I would just work towards getting your associates degree (in whatever field you choose) and not do any academy training at MATC. MPD has there own academy you will have to complete regardless if you go through it at MATC


              • #8
                This might change your decision on full or part-time. the department of justice has decided to cancel the certification track or part-time academies throughout wisconsins tech schools. the fall semester of this 2008 school year was the last that this program was offered. As of now there are only a couple places that still offer it, Blackhawk and Fox Valley. so that kind off leaves only one option and that is to go through a full-time 520 academy.

                both ways are great, it all basically comes down to the fact that not everyone can take 13 or 16 weeks out of their life and not get paid for it.


                • #9

                  I appreciate your response. I called and spoke with the WI DOJ, and they stated the State has no plans to eliminate the part time option. They have left it to the technical schools themselves to decide if there is enough interest to run a class or not. Did you maybe hear that the tech schools themselves do not have enough interest, therefore they are cancelling them? I am curious because obviously this would impact me in a major way if I cannot do it part time if not hired by a department first.


                  • #10
                    This whole thing is confusing since it is really new, I just finished a part-time academy in madison. The program director said that the reason they were canceling was because the people who work for the law enforcement standards board dont think it is worth while.

                    Im pretty sure that no one will give you a perfect answer just because it only came up a couple weeks ago, and im guessing with the budget problems wisconsin is having i would'nt be surprised if the law enforcement training area gets the ****-hand of the cuts.


                    • #11
                      Just confirming that the part time academies are NOT the same thing as an advance standing program correct? You do NOT need the two year program to attend these?


                      • #12
                        Once again, I'm speaking from my experience with BTC from several years ago.

                        First of all, the part-time academy is indeed different from the advanced standing academy. With PT academy, your 520 hours of training is spread out over the course of a year, rather than attending 13 weeks of classes for 8 hours a day. The advanced standing academy, at least the one I'm familiar with, through Madison Area Technical College, is a program for those that have completed the 2-year associate's degree in criminal science, and have completed either above a certain GPA or in the top x% of their class. Basically, it's the hands-on stuff like firearms and EVOC compressed into a 2 or 3 week program. The concept is that you've already received the classroom training as part of the AD program, so there's no need to repeat it immediately upon graduation.

                        That being said, you don't need an AD to become a cop. However, the state requires 60 college-level credits to be certifiable. Any combination of credits from an appropriately accredited school will suffice. Most academies I'm aware of will require you have the 60 credits before walking in the door.

                        The only exception I know if is Madison. If you can make it through their rigorous application process, they will hire someone without the required number of credits. The state will allow up to 2 years for the completion of those credits. In those rare instances where they do hire someone under these conditions, that candidate can expect to have the Trainings staff hovering overhead for those 2 years to ensure the credits are completed in the allotted time.

                        SGT Ireland, if Madison is in your sites and that's the only department you are willing to work for, then don't waste your time and money with MATC or any other academy. As SnakeDoctor said, you'll just have to go through Madison's academy anyways. The only exception is Madison's new lateral transfer program. If you have experience as an officer from another department, they have an accelereated program for new hires. It started last year and I'm told they plan to continue it.

                        That being said, Madison is notoriously difficult to get into compared to other Wisconsin departments. It's possible to get an offer on your first attempt, but the planets really need to be in alignment. Most people around here start with a plan to work for Madison, but end up working for other agencies after failing to make the cut once or twice. If you think that might be the case for you, then you would be well-advised to put yourself through an academy to make yourself more desirable to hiring agencies.


                        • #13
                          I am seeing different opinions even in the few responses thus far. From everything I have read, you have 5 years, not 2 to finish the 60 credits. This is not a worry for me, as I am wrapping up my MBA right now. The academies are the same material, just over different periods of time. The degree requirements for MATC are 60 credits, does not have to be in Criminal Justice, this is according to their admissions department who I have spoken with. Still trying to figure out how I can attend an academy, in a schedule that works with my life, and I thank you all for your responses.


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