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How to Become a Police Officer in South Carolina

Becoming a Police Officer in Charleston, South Carolina

The Charleston Police Department (843-720-2457) serves a population of more than 630,000 and more than 4 million tourists each year. Charleston Police Department personnel patrol the City of Charleston’s 103 square miles, including the City’s downtown peninsula.

Applicants with interest in becoming a police officer in Charleston, South Carolina can use this guide to familiarize themselves with the hiring process:

  1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Employment
  2. Apply for Employment
  3. Take Physical Fitness Test
  4. Take the Written Test
  5. Take a Polygraph Exam
  6. Participate in an Oral Interview
  7. Complete Employment Testing
  8. Attend Police Academy Training

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Employment

If you want to learn how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Charleston, you must first determine if you meet minimum requirements for available jobs. In particular, all candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Have a clean police record
  • Have a valid driver’s license

Further, all candidates for Charleston police jobs must have ONE of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree or above; OR
  • An associate’s degree with 4 or more years of law enforcement or military experience; OR
  • A high school diploma or GED with 6 or more years of law enforcement or military experience

Applicants with any felony convictions; convictions of moral turpitude; domestic violence convictions; or convictions of simple assault against a family member, spouse or domestic partner are not be eligible to Charleston police jobs. Further, applicants involved in the sale, use or distribution of drugs within the last 5 years are not eligible for employment with the Charleston Police Department.

Step 2. Apply for Employment

Download, print, and complete the City of Charleston Police Department Employment Application  and include copies of the following documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s license
  • Certified driving record for the last 5 years
  • College diploma and high school diploma
  • Military form DD-214 (if applicable)

You may direct any questions to the Personnel Department at 843-720-2402. You may also pick up an application for employment in person at the Police Department at 180 Lockwood Boulevard.

All applications must be returned to the Department’s Personnel Office at 180 Lockwood Boulevard, Charleston, South Carolina 29403.

Step 3. Take Physical Fitness Test

Upon review of your application, the Department will contact you to begin employment testing, which starts with physical fitness testing. The physical fitness assessment consists of five items, all of which are scored and combined to produce an overall score:

  1. Sit-ups
  2. Push-ups
  3. Bench press
  4. 1.5-mile run
  5. 300-meter run

You can review the Department’s physical fitness standards here.

Step 4. Take the Written Test

Only those candidates who successfully pass the physical fitness test are eligible to take the written test, which consists of an 80-minute timed test that assesses reading comprehension, spelling/grammar, and math.

Candidates who fail the written test may request to be retested in 2 weeks. Candidates who fail the written test twice are not eligible to retest for a period of 5 months.

Step 5. Take a Polygraph Exam

Only those candidates who pass the written test are eligible to take a polygraph exam.

Step 6. Participate in an Oral Interview

Only those candidates who pass the polygraph exam will be invited to participate in an oral interview given by an oral review board. Only a select few candidates will be chosen to undergo a background investigation.

Step 7. Complete Employment Testing

Upon completion of the background investigation and the polygraph exam, the top candidates will receive a conditional offer of employment and complete employment testing, which includes a psychological and physical exam with drug screen.

Step 8. Attend Police Academy Training

All new recruits must attend a police academy training program, which includes completing the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Basic Law Enforcement School, followed by a field training program.

Becoming a Police Officer in Columbia, South Carolina

The Columbia Police Department serves a population of more than 117,000, all of whom reside in the City’s 125 square miles. The Columbia, South Carolina, Police Department operates through four regions: East, West, North, South, and Metro Regions.

Individuals who want to learn how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Columbia can use this guide, which provides step-by-step instructions regarding the employment process:

  1. Meet Minimum Department Requirements
  2. Submit an Application for Employment
  3. Take a Physical Agility Test
  4. Take a Reading Test
  5. Undergo Initial Background Interview
  6. Undergo Background Investigation
  7. Undergo Formal Interview
  8. Complete Remaining Employment Testing
  9. Complete Police Training Program

Step 1. Meet Minimum Department Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming a police officer in Columbia must first learn about the Department’s minimum employment requirements. In particular, applicants for Columbia police jobs must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Possess a high school diploma or the equivalent
  • Possess a valid South Carolina driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions or serious misdemeanors
  • Have no DUIs
  • Be in good physical health

Step 2. Submit an Application for Employment

Applications for employment are accepted on a continuous basis. Download, print and complete the Application for Employment, and submit it to:

City of Columbia
P.O. Box 147
Columbia, South Carolina, 29217-0147

All completed applications must contain copies of the following documents:

  • South Carolina driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • High school diploma/GED certificate (Transcripts required if you have graduated within 5 years of the employment date.)
  • Military form DD-214 (if applicable)
  • Ten-year driving record (You can obtain this information by visiting the SCDMV offices.)
  • National Credit Bureau Credit Report (You can obtain this by contacting one of the three national credit reporting agencies: Experian, EQUIFAX, or TransUnion)

Any questions about the application process can be directed to a Department recruiter at 803-545-3550 or at cdbutzer@columbiasc.net.

You can expect to receive a letter of acknowledgement from the Department within 5 working days. Further, the Department will remain in contact with all eligible candidates through phone/email during the selection process. You can expect the selection process to last anywhere from 1 to 3 months.

Step 3. Take a Physical Agility Test

All candidates are required to complete the job-related physical agility test (PAT), a physical agility/obstacle course designed to test your strength and endurance. You are required to complete this course within 2:06 to pass and continue with the selection process.

Step 4. Take a Reading Test

Upon completion of an application screening process by the Department, which includes checking your criminal history, verifying your documents, and checking your driver’s license, you will be contacted, if eligible, to complete the Nelson-Denny testing, a written exam designed to assess your ability to perform the job of a Columbia police officer. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree need not take this test. You must pass this test to continue with the selection process.

Step 5. Undergo Initial Background Interview

Candidates who pass the written test will be scheduled to undergo an initial background interview and complete a personal history statement and a pre-employment applicant questionnaire.

Step 6. Undergo Background Investigation

All eligible candidates will be interviewed by an experienced investigator and will be photographed and fingerprinted.

Step 7. Undergo Formal Interview

Upon a successful interview with the Chief of Police and his command staff, and upon passing the background investigation, select candidates will be given a conditional offer of employment at this time.

Step 8. Complete Remaining Employment Testing

Candidates given a conditional offer of employment will need to complete all employment testing at this time, which includes a drug/alcohol screen; a health screen; a complete physical examination; and a polygraph examination.

Step 9. Complete Police Training Program

All new recruits are expected to successfully complete all elements of the Columbia Police Department training program, which includes Basic Candidate School; the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Basic Law Enforcement School; and a Columbia Police Department field training program.

Becoming a Police Officer in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

The Mount Pleasant Police Department is a nationally accredited agency that consists of 149 sworn officers and 43 civilian personnel who serve a population of more than 67,000. The officers within the seven patrol districts of the Mount Pleasant Police Department in South Carolina, patrol the city’s 73 square miles.

Individuals interested in becoming a police officer in Mount Pleasant can follow this guide, which provides step-by-step instructions on the employment process:

  1. Meet Minimum Requirements
  2. Apply for Employment
  3. Take a Written Test and Physical Test
  4. Undergo Background Investigation
  5. Undergo Formal Interview
  6. Complete Remaining Employment Testing
  7. Attend Police Academy and Field Training

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements

Individuals who want to learn how to become a cop by meeting police officer requirements in Mount Pleasant must first ensure they meet a core set of minimum employment requirements set forth by the Department. In particular, all candidates for Mount Pleasant police jobs must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Hold an associate’s degree (or 55 credit hours) from an accredited college or university
  • Have a valid South Carolina driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions or convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude
  • Be a United States citizen

Step 2. Apply for Employment

You may submit an application for employment either online or by printing the PDF application and submitting it to the Human Resources office during office hours. Once a formal application has been submitted, the employment process will last about 45 days.

Step 3. Take a Written Test and Physical Test

The first step of the employment process for individuals interested in attaining Mount Pleasant police jobs is the written and physical tests, both of which must be passed to continue with the selection process.

Step 4. Undergo Background Investigation

All qualified candidates will need to undergo a thorough background investigation, which includes a criminal history check and a review of all references, both personal and professional.

Step 5. Undergo Formal Interview

Select candidates will be chosen, based on the results of the background investigation, to interview with the Chief of Police. A conditional offer of employment will be extended to select candidates.

Step 6. Complete Remaining Employment Testing

The last step of the employment process, which takes place following a conditional offer of employment, includes taking and passing the following:

  • Polygraph exam
  • Psychological screening
  • Medical examination
  • Drug screening

Step 7. Attend Police Academy and Field Training

Upon completion of Academy training, all new recruits are required to take and pass the 12-week South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Basic Law Enforcement Certification Course. Following certification, all sworn officers must complete a field training and evaluation program, which consists of 600 hours of training.

Any further questions regarding the application and selection process can be directed to the Office of Professional Standards at 843-884-4176.

Becoming a Police Officer in North Charleston, South Carolina

The North Charleston Police Department employs more than 300 sworn officers and 100 civilian employees, all of whom serve a population of more than 90,000 residents, which often grows to 200,000 with tourists and seasonal workers.

This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to become a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina:

  1. Meeting the Requirements
  2. Submitting an Application
  3. Completing Phase I Testing
  4. Completing Phase II Testing
  5. Completing Phase III Testing
  6. Attending the Academy

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements

Individuals with interest in becoming a police officer in North Charleston must first determine if they meet the Department’s minimum qualifications. In particular, all candidates for North Charleston police jobs must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

The following may disqualify an applicant from attaining a police officer position with the North Charleston Police Department:

  • DUI convictions within the last 2 years
  • Conviction of leaving the scene of an accident
  • Any marijuana use in the last 3 years or cocaine within the past 5 years
  • Felony convictions
  • Convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude
  • Convictions involving the sale of illegal drugs
  • Domestic violence convictions
  • Dishonorable discharge from the military

Step 2. Submit an Application for Employment

You can apply for North Charleston police jobs by downloading, printing, and completing the Application for Employment. You can also pick up and/or drop off an application with the North Charleston Human Resources Department on the third floor of the City Hall Building.

You will be required to include the following documents (copies) with your application for employment:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • High school diploma (certified)
  • Transcripts and diplomas from college (certified)
  • Driving records of all the states in which a license was issued in the last 5 years (certified)
  • Military records
  • U.S. citizenship papers (if applicable)
  • Clerk of Court letter stating no outstanding judgments

Mail your completed application and required documentation to:

City of North Charleston
P.O. Box 190016
North Charleston, SC 29419

You can expect to receive verification of the receipt of your application by mail.

Step 3. Complete Phase I Testing

Qualified candidates can expect to be contacted by the Screening Office to schedule an informal interview, a police entrance exam, and a physical ability test (You can read more about the physical ability test here), all of which will be completed on the same day.

Only those candidates who successfully pass Phase I testing can move on with the selection process. All eligible candidates, upon completion of Phase I testing, will be asked to complete a Personal History Package and notarized waiver, both of which will be used for the background investigation.

Step 4.  Complete Phase II Testing

Candidates who pass the background investigation will meet with the formal review board, which consists of the Captains and the Deputy Chiefs of the Department.

Step 5. Complete Phase III Testing

Only those candidates recommended by the formal review board will take the polygraph examination and undergo a medical exam, drug screen, and psychological evaluation.

Step 6. Attend Police Academy Training

All new recruits are required to attend mandatory police academy training, followed by field training through the North Charleston Police Department.

Becoming a Police Officer in Rock Hill, South Carolina

The Rock Hill Police Department (803-329-7200) and its skilled officers are responsible for patrolling Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is located about 25 miles south of Charlotte. The sworn officers of the Rock Hill Police Department serve a population of just over 60,000.

Individuals who want to learn how to become a cop in Rock Hill can use this guide for instructions on completing the employment process:

  1. Meet Minimum Requirements
  2. Submit an Application for Employment
  3. Take the Physical Agility Test
  4. Take the Written Exam
  5. Participate in an Oral Board Interview
  6. Undergo Background Investigation
  7. Complete Remaining Employment Testing
  8. Participate in a Final Interview
  9. Complete Academy and Field Training

Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming a police officer in Rock Hill must meet the Department’s minimum requirements. In other words, all applicants for Rock Hill police jobs must:

  • United States citizenship
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

Step 2. Submit an Application for Employment

To apply for employment, you must complete the City of Rock Hill Employment Application. The Office of Professional Standards reviews and evaluates all applications for Rock Hill police jobs and contacts all eligible candidates to begin employment testing.

Step 3.  Take the Physical Agility Test

The first step in the employment process includes taking the Physical Agility Course (PAT), which is designed to test your strength and stamina. The PAT involves an obstacle course that is 870 feet in length. You can read more about the PAT here.

Step 4. Take the Written Exam

Candidates who pass the PAT will be then eligible to take the written exam, which consists of reading comprehension, math, and vocabulary sections.

Step 5. Participate in an Oral Board Interview

Candidates who pass the written test will then be scheduled to meet with the oral board for an  informal interview.

Step 6. Undergo Background Investigation

Select candidates are then chosen, based on the formal interview, to undergo a thorough background investigation, which can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.

Step 7. Complete Remaining Employment Testing

Upon completion of the background investigation, the Department will extend a conditional offer of employment to select candidates, who must then take and pass all remaining employment testing, which includes a polygraph exam, a psychological exam, a medical screen, and a drug screen.

Step 8. Participate in a Final Interview

Candidates who pass all remaining testing will be scheduled to meet with the Chief of Police for a final interview.

Step 9. Complete Academy and Field Training

All new recruits must complete police academy training, followed by 16 weeks of one-on-one field training.

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