PA Police Officer Requirements

Do you want to become a cop in Pennsylvania? If so, then you must familiarize yourself with the requirements. You should also prepare yourself for the lengthy and stringent application process, which will test not only your mental and psychological capacity but also your physical abilities.

But the rewards of passing these exams and getting admitted into the police academy are substantial, with a satisfying take-home pay and generous benefits awaiting you.

The starting pay of cops in Pennsylvania are quite attractive. For instance, new members of Erie police department receive an annual salary of $36,987 with the pay increasing to $62,261 after three years. New cops in the Philadelphia police department receive an annual pay of $46,783 with increases that will reach $60,759 a year in a few years.

Meanwhile, new members of the Pittsburgh police department receive an annual salary of $40,896. If you join the Allentown police department, your annual salary is $46,856.  However, if you are assigned to the Reading police department, your average annual salary is $23,000.


You should meet all of the general requirements in order to get to the first phase of the application process. These requirements include an age requirement of at least 20 years but not more than 40 years of age. You should also be a U.S. citizen and must have a valid driver’s license.  You also need to be at holder of at least a high school diploma.

In Reading, you also have to pay a non-refundable application fee of $50. You can find more info on the application process by clicking this link.

To find out more about the general requirements, related documents and the factors that can merit automatic disqualification, click this link.

Physical Ability Test

The physical ability test will test your muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Keep in mind that in case you get admitted as a police, there is a high likelihood you’ll find yourself running after or even exchanging blows with criminals.

In Pennsylvania, the standard physical ability test includes a vertical jump wherein you should register at least 14 inches, Illinois agility run that should be completed in 23.5 seconds or less, and a 300-meter run that should be finished in 77 seconds or less. You would also have to complete 13 repetitions of push-ups and complete a 1.5 mile run in less than 17 minutes and 48 seconds.

You should pass all tests in order to get to the next phase of the screening process, which is the written examination. Failing in any of the test automatically disqualifies you. Because of the backbreaking challenges posed by the physical ability test, many aspiring cops fail to get pass this phase of the recruitment.

If you are not physically fit, there’s no way you’d hurdle this test. Some experts suggest that you should at least dedicate six to eight weeks of intense physical activity consisting of exercises like running and swimming for you to get past through this test.

You can get more reliable information on how to pass the physical ability test by subscribing to the “Prepare for the Academy” guide that you can buy from this website. This guide is written by a veteran police officer who also happens to be a strength and conditioning expert. You can learn exercises that you should regularly do from this guide so you can prepare yourself better for the academy.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is divided into two parts. First is the written examination that is meant to gauge your reading comprehension, vocabulary, mathematical skills, and problem solving abilities.  The other part is the oral examination. The scores on both exams will be added up, and  those who garner the top scores will make up the eligibility list.

Should you make it this far, you’ll then invited to the physical readiness processing. This is a one-day event that the Pennsylvania State Police will set for the submission of completed processing packet as well as conduct of physical readiness tests. You’ll also complete various forms and the polygraph screening booklet.

Afterwards, a polygraph test will be scheduled to verify the accuracy of all the information that you have given throughout the recruitment process. The polygraph screening booklet you accomplished will be forwarded to polygraph examiners who will then contact you for the actual test.

Background Investigation

You’ll then be subjected to a background investigation after you have been cleared by the polygraph review committee. The background investigation component will be exhaustive, with the investigators talking with your family members, friends, colleagues, former employers, and neighbors. The focus of the investigation will not only be on your personal background but also previous employment, legal or criminal history, credit records, and character references.

The investigation will be extensive. In case you have lived out of Pennsylvania for quite some time, the investigators will cooperate with other law enforcement bodies in areas where you lived to verify that all the information you shared are true and accurate.

Medical and Psychological Assessment

If you have been ruled eligible by the background investigation panel then you’ll be scheduled for a medical and psychological processing. The letter invitation includes a processing packet that has all the instructions you’ll need to complete the medical documentation and tests you have to go through. This includes urinalysis drug screening. The medical documentation you provided will be reviewed by a medical officer employed by the state police.

You also have to go through psychological tests as administered by a licensed psychologist.


After passing the medical and psychological tests, you’ll be eligible for an appointment subject to the availability of a police academy class. Usually, the appointment letter is issued three weeks before the start of the class. However, you may have to wait for an appointment if there is a limit to the size of the class. In that case, your name will remain on the eligibility list and you can expect an offer of appointment for the subsequent class.

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