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Becoming a Police Officer in San Francisco, California

There are more than 2000 police officers working in the San Francisco Police Department as of 2013, and the agency continues to grow. If you are interested in applying for San Francisco police jobs, the time to start is now since the application process can take three to six months to complete.

Follow these steps to learn how to become a police officer in San Francisco:

  1. Verify you meet the general qualifications
  2. Pass written and physical ability tests
  3. Pass an oral interview/examination
  4. Pass a background check and polygraph, medical and psychological exams
  5. Complete training at the San Francisco Police Academy


Step 1.  Meet the General Qualifications to Become a San Francisco Police Officer

You must meet these general requirements before even applying for a police officer job in San Francisco:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
  • Have one of the following:
    • High school diploma
    • GED
    • California High School Proficiency exam proof
    • Two or four year degree from accredited college/university in the U.S.
  • Be 20 years old at the time of the examination (must be 21 to be hired)
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions in California or any other state
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions  that prohibit you from carrying a firearm

Do you meet these qualifications? If so, contact the City and County of San Francisco Department of Human Resources to be notified when they are accepting entry-level police officer applications.

Step 2. Pass Written and Physical Ability Tests

You must pass an entry-level law enforcement written examination developed by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). It will measure your abilities in writing and reading comprehension. Passing the test places you on a list of individuals who are eligible to become police officers in San Francisco but does not necessarily guarantee that you will move on in the hiring process. You will remain eligible to be hired for two years

You must also pass a Physical Ability Test, conducted at the San Francisco Police Academy. It is graded on a pass/fail basis. Your abilities in the following areas are tested:

  • Run an obstacle course simulating police officer work
  • Leg endurance (pedaling a bike as fast as possible for two minutes)
  • Arm lift (measures the maximum force generated by your arm muscles)
  • Sit-ups (as fast as possible for one minute)
  • Trigger pull (12 times in 25 seconds, each hand)

You must also meet the height and weight standards (by gender) of the San Francisco Police Department.  Information on how to prepare for the Physical Ability Test may be found here.

Step 3. Pass an Oral Interview/Examination

The oral interview/examination is conducted with a panel of representatives from the San Francisco Police Department. It is designed to measure your abilities at problem-solving, oral communication and interpersonal communication. You will be given the oral examination questions the day of the exam and will have five minutes to review them alone before being faced with the panel of interviewers. The oral interview/exam is on a pass/fail basis. If you pass, you will begin the next step in the hiring process, and will be given a background packet to complete.

Step 4. Pass a Background Investigation and Polygraph, Medical and
Psychological Examinations

In completing your background packet, you will be asked to submit certain documentation to facilitate the investigation process. This includes:

  • Certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of registration with Selective Service (if you are a male ages 18 to 26)
  • Copies of high school and college diplomas/degrees
  • Official transcripts from high school, GED courses, and/or college
  • Certified copy of marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Certificate of Naturalization, if applicable
  • Copies of divorce decrees, if applicable
  • Copies of any filed or issued restraining orders
  • Copy of your vehicle insurance policy
  • Recent passport-sized photograph of your head and shoulders
  • Certified copies of bankruptcy proceedings, if applicable
  • The following information for the past ten years:
    • All law enforcement agencies with whom you have applied for employment
    • Names of supervisors and coworkers
    • Where you worked
    • Where you lived
    • Who you lived with

Send the information to Background Investigation Unit, 850 Bryant St., Rm 570, San Francisco, CA 94103. Once you have completed and turned in your background packet, the background investigation will begin. You will be contacted to meet with a Background Investigator, who will interview and fingerprint you. You will also be administered a polygraph examination.

If you pass the background investigation, you will next submit to a medical exam. You must be medically certified that you are healthy enough to perform the duties of a San Francisco police officer.

Next, a Department-approved psychologist must psychologically certify you fit to serve as a San Francisco cop.

The results of all of the above investigations and examinations will be presented at a hiring meeting, consisting of the Lieutenant of Staff Services, OIC Background Unit, Investigator and Psychologist. A hiring decision will be determined, and if favorable, you will be offered a position in the next San Francisco Police Academy class.

Step 5. Complete San Francisco Police Officer Training

Well done! You have passed the lengthy process and are now a member of the class of future police officers in San Francisco! You must now complete training at the San Francisco Police Academy. Training will last approximately six months, at which time you will begin 17 weeks of Field Training in the San Francisco Police Department’s Patrol Division.

The entry-level annual salary for a Police Officer in San Francisco, as of 2013 is $88,842 to $112,164.

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