CA Police Officer Requirements

When you have more than 38 million living in just one state, you’re bound to see quite a few crimes throughout the year. The statistics bear this out: more than 1.21 million crimes were committed in California in 2012. More than a million of these crimes were crimes against property. But almost 161,000 were classified as violent crimes, and they included 1,884 murders.

For those who want to help stem the tide against crime in California, here’s a look at some police academy requirements in California you’ll need to go through:

Los Angeles Police Department

This is perhaps one of the most storied and most publicized police departments in the world. More TV shows and movies have included the LAPD than any other police department. That’s why the LAPD gets a lot of applications. The basic qualifications include 21 years of age, at least a high school diploma or GED, US citizen or permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for citizenship, and a background (employment, financial, and driving) that shows great responsibility.

The application process is lengthy and thorough, however:

  1. Preliminary Background Application (PBA) and Job Preview Questionnaire (JPQ)
  2. Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE), for which you will need a valid federal or state photo ID before you can take the written exam.
  3. Background check and polygraph test.
  4. Physical abilities test. This only checks that you have the minimum physical fitness to go through Academy training.
  5. Department interview.
  6. Medical and psychological evaluation.
  7. Certification and appointment to next available class date.

The PAT is a good indicator of just how tough it will be in the Police Academy. If you can barely make the grade in the PAT, your chances don’t look so good for the Academy.

The first portion of the PAT involves testing your agility, strength, and muscular endurance. With the side step exercise, you go four feet left and then right from the center line. The number of times you can reach the outer lines in 10 seconds will be your score. The next exercise is the cable pull, and your score will be the average of three attempts. Then you go on a stationary bike, and you have to complete as many revolutions as you can in 2 minutes.

The other portion of the PAT is on the treadmill, and here you will simulate running a mile and a half in an astonishing 14 minutes. This is a difficult exercise, compared in some police departments where you only need to complete the 1.5-mile run in 18 minutes or so. The speed and the incline will change during the exam.

The physical fitness test standards for the Academy are much tougher, so watch out. But after all that, you can expect a salary of $49,924, or $51,949 if you have at least 60 college credits and at least a 2.0 GPA. For those with a 4-year course, the pay jumps to $53,975.

San Diego Police Department

As a police recruit, your salary is $23.22 an hour, which is the equivalent of a $48,000 annual salary. But once you become a regular police officer, it jumps to $26.04 an hour or $54,000 per year.

The process of becoming a San Diego police officer is basically the same as that for the LAPD. There are some tattoo policies in place, though. You can’t have visible tattoos on face, neck or head, and your tattoos should not be prejudicial to good order and discipline. Your tattoos should not exceed 25% of your visible body part.

The San Diego PD PAT involves 5 timed events:

  1. Running a 99-yard obstacle course
  2. Climbing a 6-foot solid fence
  3. Climbing a 6-foot chain link fence
  4. Dragging a 165-pound dummy for 32 feet
  5. Running for 500 yards

As a recruit in the Academy, you’ll start running at least three and a half miles a day. Near the end of the training, you’ll be running seven miles a day several days a week.

San Jose Police Department

The pay for police officers in San Jose is quite impressive compared to what you can get in most places in the US. Even as an Academy recruit, you already take down $31.15 an hour. The starting step 1 salary is $75,483, and you get a step increase in salary every year for the next seven years. The top step police salary is $101,088.

As for the basic requirements, the age and citizenship requirements are the same. You’ll need a driver’s license, however, and you also need 40 semester college credits or 60 quarter college credits from an accredited college or university. Your uncorrected vision needs to be 20/40 and you cannot have any felonies, domestic violence, or misdemeanor assault on your record.

You will then have to undergo a background check and an interview. There will also be a written exam, as well as a physical agility exam.

San Francisco Police Department

The physical ability test for the San Francisco PD starts with a rigorous obstacle course that includes pushing a 225-pound sled for five feet, and dragging a 140-pound dummy for 25 feet. Then you need to demonstrate the ability to pull the trigger with each hand, along with performing arm lifts and demonstrating cycling endurance.

As for the other requirements, they are similar to other police departments.

Fresno Police Department

The process and requirements for the Fresno PD is basically the same, although the sequence is different. Here, you start out as a cadet on field patrol. After you’ve gained some experience, you go to the Academy for six months. Once you graduate, your become a Recruit, for at least 16 weeks until your probationary period is complete and you become a regular Police Officer.


Even a cursory look at some of these requirements indicates that getting into any of these police departments can be very tough. The physical requirements along can be daunting—not many can perform all the physical exercises required. Add the written exams and the interview portions, and there are simply too many ways to fail.

The best way to maximize your chances is to make sure you learn how to prepare for the police academy properly. You’ll need the best review materials that cover the entire application and training process. Perhaps your best bet is the Prepare for the Police Academyreview manual. It covers everything you need to know, from how to fill out your application papers and doing well on written tests and interviews to meeting the physical fitness standards and excelling in the police academy. With such stringent standards and fierce competition, you’ll need all the help you can get.



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