Becoming a Police Officer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Police Department was established in 1857, with one chief and nine constables. Today the Pittsburgh Police Department supports jobs for about 900 sworn police officers. Pittsburgh has been named one of the safest cities in the United States, thanks in large part to the men and women on the city’s police force. Becoming a police officer in Pittsburgh means that you will help to continue this tradition of public safety and crime prevention.

Below you will find instructions on how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Pittsburgh:

  1. Confirm that you meet the general requirements
  2. Pass written and oral examinations
  3. Pass a background investigation, polygraph, physical fitness and reading tests
  4. Pass psychological and medical evaluations
  5. Attend the Pittsburgh Police Academy


Step 1.  Meet the General Requirements for Pittsburgh Police Officer Candidacy

You must meet the following general requirements before applying to become a police officer in Pittsburgh:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You are a resident of Pittsburgh
  • You have a current and valid Pennsylvania Class C driver’s license
  • You have a high school diploma/GED
  • You have completed at least 30 semester credits of college coursework at an accredited university or college (by the time you enter the Police Academy, you must have completed at least 60 semester credits)

Do you meet these general requirements? If so, you may apply online to become a police officer in Pittsburgh.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Oral Examination

When the recruitment period for the Pittsburgh police officer job opening has closed, applications will be reviewed by Personnel Analysts. If you meet the minimum requirements for the job, you will be contacted and scheduled to take the Civil Service examinations. First is the written exam, the Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEAB). This multiple-choice test has three parts: one tests your cognitive abilities, and the other two test your work styles and life experience. Click here for help in preparing for the written exam.

Secondly, you must pass the Civil Service oral exam. This is taken before an oral board panel, and addresses your verbal abilities. You will be presented with sample situations and must explain how you would handle them and why. Help in preparing for the oral exam is available here.

If you pass the Civil Service exams, your name will be placed on an eligibility list. You may be called from this list to participate in the hiring process to become a police officer in Pittsburgh.  You will be ranked on this list according to your total Civil Service exam score. Your name will remain on this list for 18 months.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation, Polygraph Test, Physical Fitness Test and Reading Test

If you are called from the eligibility list, a background investigation will commence. This will include a polygraph test. All areas of your life history – criminal, civil, personal, employment, education, residential, credit, military and behavioral – will be thoroughly explored by a background investigator of the Pittsburgh Police Department. You must pass this investigation and polygraph test before the hiring process will continue.

Next is the State of Pennsylvania Municipal Officers’ Education and Training Commission Physical Fitness and Reading Testing. The reading test is the Nelson-Denny vocabulary and comprehension exam, which requires that you read at a minimum of a ninth grade level in order to pass. For physical fitness testing, you must score in at least the 30th percentile for your gender and age on the following:

  • 300 meter run
  • Bench press ratio
  • One minute sit ups
  • 1 ½ mile run

Passing these tests will earn you a conditional offer of employment to become a police officer in Pittsburgh. The offer is contingent upon you passing the tests listed in the next step.

Step 4. Pass Psychological and Medical Evaluations

You have reached this step if you have a conditional offer of employment. You must now pass psychological and medical testing.

In the Psychological Suitability Evaluation, you must take a written assessment and meet with a licensed psychologist for an interview.

For the Medical Examination, your health and fitness will be evaluated to make sure you can physically handle the demands of becoming a police officer in Pittsburgh. You may take a treadmill test, vision test, blood test, and hearing test.

If you pass both of these evaluations, you will receive a final offer of appointment as a police officer in Pittsburgh.

Step 5. Attend Pittsburgh Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have received an offer to become a police officer in Pittsburgh! You must now complete training at the Pittsburgh Police Academy. This training lasts for 32 weeks and includes both hands-on practice and classroom coursework. While you are in training, as of 2012 you will earn $13.69 per hour (translates to $28.475 per year). After graduation from the Pittsburgh Police Academy, you will earn $40,896 during your first year of work as a police officer in Pittsburgh.

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