Becoming a Police Officer in Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Police Department was established in 1854, making it the oldest police department in the United States. Today, the Boston Police Department serves as the model for police departments in other communities.

Becoming a police officer in Boston takes hard work and is time-consuming, but is well worth the effort. Here are instructions on how to become a cop by meeting Police Officer requirements in Boston:

  1. Verify you possess the necessary credentials
  2. Pass a written examination
  3. Participate in an Orientation Session, Interview and Background Investigation
  4. Pass Psychological, Medical, Physical Ability and Drug Tests
  5. Train at Boston Police Academy


Step 1.  Possess the Necessary Credentials for Boston Police Officer Candidacy

You must verify a few qualifications before applying for Boston Police Officer jobs. They are:

  • U.S. citizenship (by birth or naturalized)
  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED, or served at least three years in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Valid Massachusetts driver’s license
  • Live in the city of Boston for at least one year prior to taking the Civil Service exam

If you meet these qualities, apply online to take the Civil Service exam. The exam is only given every two years. The next exam date is April 30, 2013.

Step 2. Pass the Police Officer Civil Service Exam

The first step towards becoming a police officer in Boston is to pass the Police Officer Civil Service exam required of all officers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The test costs $100 to take and consists of the following:

  • Written Ability Test – measures cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension, writing, oral communication, reasoning, ordering information
  • Life Experience Survey – multiple choice questions related to your past history and its relevance to becoming a police officer in Boston
  • Work Styles Questionnaire – assesses your qualities of motivation, character, and values related to becoming a police officer in Boston

If you pass this exam, you will be placed on a list of persons eligible to continue in the Police Officer hiring process. If you fail, you must wait until the next scheduled Civil Service exam date in two years to retake the exam.

Step 3. Participate in an Orientation Session, Interview Session and
Background Investigation

If you are called up from the eligible list, the next step in the hiring process will be a group orientation session. You will be given an Application Packet and instructed on how to complete it. You will also be told what documents to gather to give to the Background Investigator.

You will be given a date to report for an Interview Session. Bring your completed Application Packet and requested documentation with you to the Interview Session. The interview will be conducted with the Background Investigator, who will ask you questions about the information you have provided.

The Background Investigator will then commence the background investigation. Your history in all areas – criminal, driving, military, police, personal, employment and educational – will be investigated, with persons who were in your background and present day life contacted for references. The Background Investigator will also visit your home to verify that you live in the city of Boston and assess your living conditions.

Step 4. Pass Psychological, Medical, Physical Ability and Drug Tests

Next, you must provide a head hair sample for drug testing. This will show all drugs you have taken within the past 90 days. Your urine will also be tested for the presence of steroids. If you fail either of these tests, the Boston Police Department will recommend that you be bypassed from the rest of the hiring process to become a police officer in Boston.

Psychological testing will occur next. You will take the written portion of the evaluation, which lasts four hours and takes place at Boston Police Headquarters. A Department Psychiatrist will interview you at least once during this assessment.

The medical examination will take place at a hospital laboratory and will take three hours to complete. Lab tests that will be performed include pulmonary functions, blood work, and EKG. Your medical history will be reviewed. You must also plan to attend a physical examination at the Boston Police Headquarters, performed by a Department Physician. This will occur in two visits – the first lasting two hours and the second lasting a few minutes.

If you pass the medical exam, you will take a Physical Ability Test (PAT). You must pay a fee of $150 to take the PAT. If you do not pass the PAT, you may take it one additional time, at another cost of $150. As part of the PAT, you must:

  • Complete an obstacle course in 130.4 seconds or less
  • Squeeze a trigger six times with each hand in 7.1 seconds or less
  • Separate one person from another, in two sessions, in 14.2 seconds or less
  • Drag a dummy a certain distance in 11 seconds or less

If you pass the PAT, you will receive an offer of employment to become a police officer in Boston.

Step 5. Complete Training at Boston Police Academy

Congratulations! You have completed the long, arduous hiring process and have become a police officer in Boston! Now, you must pass training in the Boston Police Academy. This consists of six months of classes in:

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • Physical training
  • Crisis intervention
  • Defensive driving
  • Patrol procedures
  • First responders
  • Firearm training
  • Self defense

When you have completed training, you will be a Boston Police Officer. As of March 2013, the annual base salary for a Boston Police Officer is $46,000.

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