How to Become a Police Officer in California

Steps to Become a Police Officer in Fresno, California

Careers with the Fresno Police Department begin with the entry-level rank: Police Cadet I. By becoming a cadet, you demonstrate to the department that you have what it takes to become a police officer in Fresno by having met the department’s highly selective requirements.

Sponsored Content

This guide provides instructions on how to become a police officer in Fresno, including details of the department’s specific requirements.

  1. Meet the fundamental prerequisites
  2. Pass a written examination and physical agility test
  3. Participate in an interview, background check and polygraph test
  4. Pass a medical exam and EKG
  5. Attend the Fresno Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Fundamental Prerequisites to Become a Fresno Police Officer

You must meet fundamental prerequisites in order to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Fresno. They are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid California driver’s license
  • Bilingual applicants are preferred

If you meet these requirements, apply online to become a Police Cadet in Fresno.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Physical Agility Test

Under California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST), you must pass a written exam and physical agility test before you may become a Police Cadet and enter the Fresno Police Academy. If your application is reviewed and you meet the standards of the Police Cadet job, you will be notified by email to schedule a written exam, called the PELLETB (POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery). This measures your abilities in reading comprehension, writing, spelling, vocabulary, clarity and recognizing contextual clues.

You will receive your PELLETB score in writing within 30 days of taking the exam.  You must pass this exam before proceeding further in the hiring process to become a police officer in Fresno. If you pass, your name will be placed on a list of those eligible to become police cadets in Fresno.

Next, you must pass the physical agility test. This involves running a 99-yard obstacle course, a 500-yard run, climbing a six-foot high chain link fence, climbing a six-foot high solid fence, and dragging a body of 165 lbs 32 feet. You must pass this test before proceeding in the hiring process.

Step 3. Pass an Interview, Background Investigation and Polygraph Test

If you pass the above-mentioned tests, you may be contacted for an interview with members of the Fresno Police Department and the Fresno City College Police Academy. This interview will address your suitability to become a Police Cadet in Fresno. The panel of interviewers will decide if you should move on in the process.

The next step is to pass a thorough background check, including a polygraph exam. An investigator will fully examine all aspects of your history: education, employment, residential, personal, family, credit, financial, driving, criminal, and military (if applicable). If you pass this check, you will be given a tentative offer to become a Police Cadet in Fresno, contingent upon steps 4 and 5 below.

Step 4. Pass a Medical Examination and EKG

The Fresno Police Academy requires that you pass a medical examination and EKG prior to entering its basic classes. A Fresno Police Department-approved physician must certify that you are healthy enough to attend the Fresno Police Academy. If you pass these exams, the Fresno Police Department will hire you as a Police Cadet.

Step 5. Attend the Fresno Police Academy

Congratulations! You have passed all of the steps and are now a Fresno Police Cadet! You must attend training at the Fresno Police Academy to become California POST-certified. After gaining some experience working within various divisions of the Fresno Police Department, you will be sent to the Fresno Police Academy. Here, you will take six months of courses related to law enforcement and physical conditioning. Upon graduation, you will be a Police Officer Recruit and assigned to a Field Training Officer (FTO) for 16 weeks of field training. Once field training is completed, you will work on a probationary period of six months to one year before you are promoted to Police Officer.

Steps to Become a Police Officer in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Police Department is one of the largest and most highly regarded police departments in the country.  This is owed to the fact that the dedicated men and women of the LAPD bravely rise to the challenges that await them in the streets of LA everyday.

If you’ve got what it takes and want to learn how to become a cop in Los Angeles by meeting the LAPD’s requirements, follow these five steps:

  1. Make sure that you meet the basic qualifications
  2. Pass a written examination
  3. Pass a background investigation and polygraph test
  4. Pass a physical abilities test and medical and psychological evaluations
  5. Complete LAPD training at the Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Qualifications and Apply for Los Angeles Police Officer Candidacy

Before being considered for police officer jobs in Los Angeles you must meet the basic requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma, GED or California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) certificate
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 21 years old when you are hired
  • Have a valid California driver’s license

If you meet these qualifications, complete the Public Safety Online Application, Preliminary Background Application (PBA) and Job Preview Questionnaire (JPQ). Once you have completed these, you will receive confirmation results immediately online. Print this confirmation and take it with you to the next step, testing.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination

The next step in the hiring process for Los Angeles police jobs is to take the Personal Qualifications Essay (PQE) test. You must pass the PQE with a score of at least 70. This written examination is offered five times a week at the following locations:

  • Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall, Los Angeles
  • San Pedro Municipal Building, San Pedro
  • Marvin Braude Constituent Center, Van Nuys
  • Constituent Service Center, Los Angeles
  • Personnel Building, Los Angeles

Passing the PQE places you on a list of candidates who are eligible in the Los Angeles Police Department hiring process. You may or may not be contacted to participate in the next phase of the hiring process. Your score is valid for 18 months. You can re-take the PQE once every six months.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation and Polygraph Test

If you are contacted to continue in the hiring process to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Los Angeles, you will next undergo a background investigation. You will be asked to complete a personal history form, consisting of employment, education, personal, financial, criminal and military records. These will be thoroughly examined, and your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers will be contacted. Fingerprinting, a background interview, and a polygraph test will also be conducted. The findings from this background investigation are valid for one year.

Step 4. Pass a Physical Abilities Test and Medical and Psychological Evaluations

If you pass Step 3, you will next complete a Physical Abilities Test (PAT). This consists of a series of tests to measure your endurance, strength and agility. You will take the PAT in two parts, one at a city facility and the other, a treadmill test, at the time of your medical evaluation. You may re-take the PAT as often as you need to in order to get a passing score. Your score on the PAT will remain eligible for one year.

An authorized Los Angeles physician performs the medical evaluation. You must meet the following standards in order to pass:

  • Body fat percentage must be no more than 30% for women and 22% for men
  • Vision of 20/30 in each eye; if you wear glasses or contacts, vision must be 20/30 with glasses and 20/70 in one eye, 20/40 in the other without corrective lenses
  • Hearing – you must be able to hear in noisy and crowded situations; hearing aid use does not automatically disqualify you

An authorized Los Angeles psychologist will perform a psychological evaluation. You must complete a life history questionnaire, and personality tests will be administered.
Disqualifying conditions or factors may include:

  • Prior diagnosis of psychiatric or psychological condition (including major depression, anxiety, panic attacks and bipolar disorder)
  • Learning disability
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Prior/current treatment with therapy or psychotropic medications

Step 5. Attend Los Angeles Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have passed the rigorous testing and have become a Los Angeles Police Officer! You must now attend the Los Angeles Police Academy for six months of training. This training is very physically challenging, with workouts and four-mile runs five days per week. The training consists of 40 hours per week and is paid. You will become a certified police officer at the conclusion of training.

As of March 2020, the median salary for a police officer in Los Angeles was $116,020 per year.*

Steps to Become Police Officer in San Diego, California

With over one million residents, San Diego is California’s second largest city. San Diego police jobs are vital to the safety and security of this vastly populated area. Becoming a police officer in San Diego is a long process, with professional rewards that make it well worth it in the end.

Sponsored Content

If you wish to know how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in San Diego, read on for more information on these steps:

  1. Confirm that you meet the basic prerequisites
  2. Pass a written examination and physical abilities test
  3. Pass a background check and polygraph test
  4. Participate in an interview and pass medical and psychological evaluations
  5. Attend the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Prerequisites for San Diego Police Recruit Candidacy

You must meet a few fundamental prerequisites before making the decision to apply for San Diego police jobs. They are:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Age of at least 20 on the day you take the written exam and 21 when you graduate from the Police Academy
  • High school diploma/GED
  • Valid California Class C driver’s license
  • Original typing certificate verifying that you can type at least 30 words per minute (click here for information on where to take approved typing tests)

Apply online for an open position as a Police Recruit if you meet the prerequisites above. It may take three weeks for the City of San Diego’s Personnel Department to approve your application and contact you for the next step in the hiring process.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Physical Abilities Test

If your application is reviewed favorably, the Personnel Department of the City of San Diego will contact you with instructions on how to schedule a written examination date. This examination is on general knowledge and in multiple-choice format. It will test your abilities and knowledge in the following areas:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Written communication
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Decision making

You must pass all sections of the test in order to be placed on an eligibility list for Police Recruits. You will receive the results of your exam in the mail. If you fail the exam, you may take it again once a month as long as the examination is open.

Next, you must pass a physical abilities test. It involves running a 500-yard obstacle course that simulates police work. If you fail the test, you may take it again. You may not move on in the hiring process to become a San Diego Police Officer until you pass the test.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation and Polygraph Test

A thorough investigation of your background will be conducted by the San Diego Police Department. You must fill out a Personal History Statement and authorize the department to speak with former employers, co-workers, and others who know you. Your financial, credit, criminal, personal, educational and employment history will be checked. You will be interviewed by a Police Department Investigator and fingerprinted. You will also be scheduled to take a polygraph test, and will be examined in 15 job dimensions for police officers.

Step 4. Pass an Authority Interview, Medical Exam and Psychological Evaluation

If you pass all of the investigations in Step 4, you will then meet in an interview with an appointing authority from the San Diego Police Department. This authority will evaluate your suitability to become a police officer in San Diego.

Next, a professional psychologist will meet with you to evaluate your psychological fitness and suitability for San Diego police jobs. You will have a clinical interview and two written tests during this evaluation.

Finally, you must pass a medical evaluation before becoming a police officer in San Diego. You must meet vision and hearing requirements, with and without correction or aids. Passing this final evaluation will earn you an officer to become a Police Recruit in San Diego

Step 5. Complete San Diego Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You are now a San Diego Police Recruit, on your way to becoming a Police Officer I after training! You must now complete 25 weeks of police academy training at the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center on the campus of Miramar College. You will complete both academic and physical training during this period.

At graduation, you will be given the rank of Police Officer I and will be assigned to the Patrol Division. Here, you will work with a Field Training Officer (FTO) for 12 weeks of field training.

As of March 2020, a police officer in San Diego earns a median salary of $95,390.*

Steps to Become Police Officer in San Francisco, California

There are more than 8,210 police officers working throughout San Francisco as of 2020, 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 median salary for a police officer in San Francisco as of 2020 is $125,200.*

Steps to Become a Police Officer in San Jose, California

San Jose police jobs are available to candidates able to demonstrate professionalism, progressivism and dynamism in protecting the residents of San Jose, California. The San Jose Police Department is involved in preventing and investigating crime, creating and fostering relationships with the community, providing emergency services and promoting public safety.

Sponsored Content

If this sounds like a job you’re cut out for, follow this guide to learn how to become a police officer in San Jose:

  1. Make sure that you meet the minimum requirements
  2. Pass physical agility and written testing
  3. Pass the background inquiry process
  4. Complete San Jose Police Officer training

Step 1.  Meet the Minimum Requirements for San Jose Police Recruit Candidacy

You must meet the minimum San Jose Police Recruit requirements to ensure your application isn’t screened out during the review process. These San Jose police officer requirements include:

  • Minimum age of 20 ½ years (mandatory retirement age is 70)
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident alien who has applied for citizenship
  • Possess valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Possess a high school diploma/GED OR a two-or four-year degree from an accredited college or university
  • Completed at least 40 semester units (60 quarter units) at an accredited U.S. college or university (credits from a law enforcement or correctional academy are not acceptable)
  • Completion of tests listed below

You may not submit an application to become a Police Recruit in San Jose until you pass the necessary tests below.

Step 2. Pass a Physical Agility Test and Written Examination

Before applying for consideration to become a recruit in the San Jose Police Department, you must pass certain examinations. One is the Physical Agility Test, otherwise known as the Work Sample Test Battery (WSTB). This includes:

  • A 99 yard-long obstacle course
  • Completion of a one and a half mile run in fewer than 14 minutes
  • A 500 yard sprint
  • A six foot solid wall climb
  • A six foot chain link fence climb
  • Drag a 165 lb body for 32 feet

You must schedule the WSTB online. Here, you can also schedule WSTB practice sessions to improve your chances of passing. You must receive a score of 320 and complete the 1.5-mile run in 14 minutes or less in order to pass the WSTB.

You must also schedule a written examination, the POST Entry-level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB), prior to applying for San Jose Police Recruit candidacy. Schedule the exam and download a practice test here. The PELLETB will test your abilities in these areas:

  • Usage of contextual clues to fill in blanks in a passage
  • Reading comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Clarity
  • Vocabulary

The PELLETB is offered in San Jose and San Mateo. If you do not pass, you may take the exam again, but you may not take it more than once in any 30-day period.

When you have passed both the WSTB and the PELLETB, apply online for Police Recruit candidacy in San Jose. You must also have your WSTB and PELLETB scores emailed or faxed to the San Jose Police Department directly from the agency/agencies that administered the tests (instructions are provided in the online application).

Step 3. Pass the Background Inquiry Process

If you pass the tests above, you will be given a Personal History Statement to complete to begin the background inquiry process. You will then be assigned to a Background Investigator who will delve into your history in the following areas:

  • Education
  • Driving
  • Friends and family
  • Neighbors
  • Landlords
  • Roommates
  • Credit
  • Relationships
  • Criminal
  • Acquaintances
  • Military (if applicable)
  • Immigration (if applicable)

This background investigation process will also include an interview with the Background Investigator and a psychological assessment of your suitability to becoming a police officer in San Jose. You will also undergo a polygraph test.

The results of your background inquiry will be presented to the hiring board. If you are selected for employment, you will be contacted and notified of the beginning date of your formal training at the Police Academy.

Step 4. Complete San Jose Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have passed all of the exams, evaluations, interviews and investigations and have earned the title of San Jose Police Recruit! After passing a medical exam clearance, the next step is to complete training necessary for becoming a police officer in San Jose. This training will be held at the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium (otherwise known as The Academy). This is located on the campus of Evergreen Valley College.

Training at The Academy is full time and lasts for 888 hours (six months). In addition to physical conditioning, you will attend courses in:

  • Cultural diversity
  • Criminal law
  • Investigative procedures
  • Patrol procedures
  • Report writing
  • Firearms
  • Defensive tactics
  • Community policing
  • Ethics
  • Leadership
  • Operating police vehicles
  • Accident investigation
  • Traffic enforcement
  • First aid/CPR
  • Handling emotional situations

The median salary for a police officer in San Jose is $132,490 per year.*

*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers reflect municipal data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed October 2021.

Back to Top