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What High School Subjects Should You Take to Be a SWAT Team Officer?

by Kevin Wandrei, studioD

Special Weapons And Tactic Team members are skilled public safety officers with special abilities in dealing with hostages, terrorism, riots and other high-urgency situations. Known more commonly as SWAT team members, these specialty police officials are highly trained in physical abilities. In addition, they require particular knowledge of certain tactical situations, many of which are learned at the high school level.

Physical Education

The single most important component that makes a qualified SWAT team member is overall physical fitness. As such, students hoping to join a SWAT team in the future should not take their gym classes lightly. Instead, students should aim to go beyond kickball and baseball, and become highly physically fit. Joining a sports team that includes rigorous physical training would also help a student prepare for SWAT. Besides the physical fitness components of physical education, students can also benefit from learning more about team building and teamwork, which are both critical skills for a SWAT team member.

Math, Especially Geometry

Students who think a SWAT team member only needs to be physically fit will be sorely mistaken. Math classes can provide crucial understanding needed to deal with strategic operations involving difficult moments like riots, terrorism or crowd control. Frequently, for example, SWAT team members must properly encircle a region or a group of people, and doing this successfully requires understanding concepts like geometry and trigonometry. These math skills are also critical to a SWAT team member's work in marksmanship. Understanding angles and measures will help a member aim with more precision, and effective aim and marksmanship is another critical qualification for SWAT.

Physics and/or Chemistry

Like math courses, high school-level science classes also provide useful background for the more technical components of a SWAT member's work. Physics, for example, helps a student understand how projectiles work, which can be highly useful in dangerous terrorism situations or on occasions where a SWAT member must serve as a sniper. Chemistry, likewise, can be helpful in biological attack situations or during other disasters involving sensitive materials. Even some introductory earth science can help a student understand issues related to natural disasters, though this is a less common part of a SWAT member's work.

Psychology or Other Social Science Elective

Hostage, terrorism and riot situations are all highly tense and require a close understanding of the way humans interact with one another. As such, an elective course in high school psychology or a related field would be highly beneficial. While social studies classes might provide some broad overview of these concepts, a more in-depth elective might provide better understanding. Students will need to know psychological manipulation skills during tense hostage situations. Likewise, a close understanding of social psychology would be especially helpful during a riot.

About the Author

Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan, Textbooks.com, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.

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