If you want to join a police department, you must enter a police academy. Graduating from the academy will take a lot of hard work and determination, so it's best to get a head start by preparing early. A few tips will help you get ready for the challenge.

Start exercising three to six months before you enter the police academy. Run and do push-ups and sit-ups every day. Schedule a physical with your doctor. If you're a smoker, quit now.

Practice professionalism. Start by being polite and respectful to everyone you meet. Refer to people as "sir" or "ma'am." Refrain from using profanity -- profanity will not be allowed when you are a police officer.

Learn the policies of your police department. Before you enter the academy, the department will give you a handbook that contains all of their policies. Study this as much as you can.

Clean up your appearance. The handbook should list the appearance guidelines for your academy. You'll be representing the academy and your local department, so you want to look your best.

Go to a range and practice your shooting. Shooting is a big part of the police academy curriculum, so practice whenever you can.

Contact your police department if you have questions. It's important to know what you're getting yourself into, and the officers at your local department are great sources for information.