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How to Become a Police Officer in Texas

Becoming a Police Officer in Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas police officers uphold the values of the Austin Police Department: integrity, courage, accountability, respect and ethics. Becoming a police officer in Austin is a lengthy process that can take six months to one year to complete, but for dedicated individuals who want to serve the community, it is well worth the effort.

This article offers instructions on how to become a cop in Austin by meeting department requirements:

  1. Verify you meet the eligibility requirements
  2. Pass a preliminary interview, written exam, physical ability test and oral board interview
  3. Pass a background check and polygraph test
  4. Pass medical, psychological and drug testing
  5. Attend the Austin Police Training Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Eligibility Requirements for Austin Police Officer Candidacy

You must meet minimum eligibility requirements prior to applying to become a police officer in Austin:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between 20.5 and 44 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid driver’s license

Begin the process by downloading and completing a Background History Application. You must also complete a Cadet Interest Card. Along with your completed Background History Application and Cadet Interest Card, you must mail the following documentation:

  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Last two paycheck stubs
  • Copy of social security card
  • Sealed credit report from one of the three major agencies (instructions may be found here)
  • Official high school transcripts, diploma or GED
  • Certified birth certificate or naturalization papers
  • Copy of marriage license, if applicable
  • Copy of divorce decree, if applicable
  • DD-214 long form, if applicable
  • Letter confirming any present Law Enforcement employment, if applicable

Mail all of the above via special carrier only (FedEx or UPS) to Austin Police Department Recruiting Unit, 1520 Rutherford Lane #3, Austin, TX 78754.

Step 2. Pass a Background History Interview, Written Exam, Physical Ability Test, and Oral Board Interview

Within 30 to 45 days after receiving your completed application packet, you will be contacted by mail to set up a Background History Interview, either by phone or in-person. If you pass this interview, you will receive a letter in the mail with the date and time of the next Civil Service exam.

The exams will be given over two days. The first day you will take the Physical Ability Test. You must pass each event in the test in order to pass the entire test and continue in the hiring process. This includes:

  • Run 1.5 miles in 13 minutes 5 seconds
  • Vertical jump of 17 inches
  • Do 36 sit ups in a minute
  • Do 33 pushups continuously
  • Run 300 meters in 63 seconds

If you pass the Physical Ability Test, you will go on to the Nelson-Denny written exam. This is an exam of basic reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Passing the Nelson-Denny test moves you to Day 2 of the exam process. On this day, you will face a board of representatives from the Austin Police Department for an oral interview. Your suitability to become a police officer in Austin will be assessed. If you succeed at the interview, you will move on to the next phase of the hiring process.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation and Polygraph Test

The background investigation can take up to six weeks to complete. All of the information you provided in Step 1 will be verified, and associates, friends, co-workers, employers and neighbors will be contacted. The following is a list of some things that could be discovered in the background investigation and could disqualify you from becoming a police officer in Austin:

  • Felony conviction or charge
  • Conviction or charge for a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude
  • Conviction of Class B misdemeanor or above in the past 10 years
  • DUI or DWI conviction in the past 10 years
  • Currently under indictment for any criminal offense
  • Conviction or history of family violence
  • Discharge from a law enforcement agency or corrections institution
  • Poor driving record, patterns of unsafe driving/accidents
  • Drivers license suspension
  • Unstable credit history
  • Making false statements by deceiving or omission
  • Use of marijuana in the past three years
  • Selling of marijuana, controlled substances or dangerous drugs
  • Use of a controlled substance or dangerous drug in the past

You must also pass a Polygraph Test, which is used to ensure your honesty during the application process to date.

Step 4. Pass a Medical Exam, Psychological Exam and Drug Test

Next, you must pass medical and psychological examinations, as well as a drug test. If you have any of the following medical conditions, you will be disqualified from becoming a police officer in Austin:

  • Complex seizure disorder
  • Chronic degenerative neurological disease
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Chronic disease requiring daily treatments and testing many times per day
  • Complex or multiple use of psychotropic drugs
  • Abnormal stress test or EKG
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Horizontal visual field less than 120 degrees in each eye
  • Normal color and night vision
  • Uncorrected visual acuity worse than 20/100 in each eye if you wear corrective lenses
  • Corrected visual acuity worse than 20/40 in each eye (20/20 in both eyes)
  • Ability to hear at least 25 decibels in each ear at frequencies of 500, 1K, 2K and 3K

You must pass a psychological assessment at this time. You will meet with a licensed, Department-approved psychologist for an interview.

If you pass all of the above evaluations, you will be placed on the eligibility list and may be called for the next Cadet class at the Austin Police Training Academy. You will remain in the eligibility pool for no longer than two years.

Step 5. Attend Austin Police Training Academy

Kudos to you! You have passed all of the assessments and evaluations and are now a member of the new Cadet Class at the Austin Police Training Academy! You will attend 32 weeks of training here and 1280 hours of instruction. Physical, law enforcement and academic training will be covered.

Upon graduation from the Academy, you will be a certified Police Officer in Austin.

As a cadet in the Austin Police Department, you will earn $2667 per month during your eight months of training. Working as a Probationary Police Officer during your first year in Austin, you will earn $55,563 per year. At your one-year anniversary, your annual salary will increase to $62,352; and after two years, it will rise to $68,819.

Becoming a Police Officer in Dallas, Texas

Dallas police jobs are challenging and vary from one division to the next. What a police officer in the Patrol Division does is different from the duties of a police officer in the Investigative Team. Becoming a police officer in Dallas is a time-consuming yet rewarding endeavor.

This guide provides instructions on how to become a cop by meeting Police Officer requirements in Dallas:

  1. Ensure that you meet the basic requirements
  2. Pass a written examination and preliminary interview
  3. Pass a physical fitness test, board interview, background check and polygraph test
  4. Pass psychological and medical evaluations and a drug screen
  5. Attend the Dallas Public Safety Training Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Requirements for Dallas Police Officer Candidacy

In order to apply to become a police officer in Dallas, you should first ensure that you meet the following education and age requirements:

  • You are at least 19.5 years old and have 60 hours of college credit with a minimum 2.0 GPA

OR

  • You are age 21 to 44 and have 45 hours of collect credit with a 2.0 minimum GPA

If you have three years of military service and an honorable discharge, the college credit requirements is waived.

Additional basic standard police officer requirements in Dallas include the following:

  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You have a valid driver’s license
  • You have not committed any felonies or Class A misdemeanors
  • You have not been convicted of a Class B misdemeanor in the 10 years prior to applying
  • You have no pending court cases or traffic citations
  • You have fewer than three serious traffic violations in the two years prior to applying

Do you meet these requirements? If so, complete a City of Dallas Online Civil Service Application and submit along with college transcript to: City of Dallas Civil Service Office at Dallas City Hall.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Preliminary Interview

A Civil Service Representative will review your application and if you qualify, you will be contacted with the date and time of the next Civil Service test. You must pass this entry-level exam before proceeding further in the application process. Immediately after you finish the test, you must report to Police Headquarters with requested documents and a completed Personal History statement.

You will have a short, preliminary interview as a Civil Service Representative goes over your documentation and the job requirements and duties. You may ask any questions you have about the job and/or the application process at this time.

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

You may be notified to report for a physical fitness test if you pass Step 2 above. You must pass all of the following events in order to pass the test:

  • Run 1.5 miles in 19 minutes 9 seconds
  • Do four pushups in 60 seconds
  • Run 300 meters in 110 seconds
  • Do 14 sit ups in 60 seconds
  • Complete the Illinois Shuttle Run in 24.9 seconds
  • Bench press 56% of your body weight
  • Complete a vertical jump of 6.5 inches

If you pass the physical fitness test, you will be scheduled for a board interview. This interview will take place in front of a board of police officers and supervisors. They will ask you questions related to the job of police officer as well as non-police officer questions. You must pass a polygraph test after this interview to ensure the truthfulness of everything you’ve told the Board so far.

If you pass these tests, you will next undergo a complete background investigation. Your history in employment, education, personal, financial and other areas will be checked. The opinions and statements of persons whom you have listed as references will also be taken.

Step 4. Pass Psychological and Medical Evaluations and Drug Screening Test

If you pass the background investigation, you will next be subjected to a psychological evaluation. This consists of a three hour written test and an interview with a licensed psychologist chosen by the Dallas Police Department.

You must also pass a medical evaluation, including a urinalysis for drug screening. You must be physically and medically fit to perform the job of a police officer in Dallas.
Your vision must be no worse than 20/100 in each eye without correction, and must be correctable to 20/20 in each eye.

If you pass these evaluations, you will be offered a position to become a police officer in Dallas.

Step 5. Attend Dallas Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have made it through the time-consuming process and have become a police officer in Dallas! You must now complete training at the Dallas Police Department’s Basic Training Academy. This training will last for 20 weeks and will include skills necessary to use as a police officer in Dallas, law enforcement techniques and topics, as well as physical fitness training.

At the completion of your training, you will become a certified police officer in Dallas.

As of October 2007, a Police Officer in Dallas earns a starting salary of $41,690 per year. After one year of service, the salary increases to $43,754.

Becoming a Police Officer in Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth is the sixteenth largest city in the United States, and the fifth largest city in Texas. In Fort Worth, police jobs are diverse and involve protecting the citizens by upholding the statutes of this city, which serves as the county seat of Tarrant County.

Becoming a police officer in Fort Worth is a lengthy process, but one that brings the unique rewards associated with community service through law enforcement. This guide provides instructions on how to become a cop in Fort Worth by meeting the department’s strict requirements:

  1. Review the basic requirements
  2. Pass a written examination and physical assessment
  3. Complete a personal history, background check, polygraph test and interview
  4. Pass medical and psychological screening
  5. Attend Fort Worth Police Officer Training

Step 1.  Meet the Basic Requirements for Fort Worth Police Officer Candidacy

Here are the basic requirements you must meet prior to applying to become a police officer in Fort Worth:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (if GED, you must also have completed at least 12 semester hours of college with a  2.0 GPA)
  • Be between 21 and 44 years old
  • Have a valid, current Class C driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no family violence convictions
  • Have no convictions above a Class B misdemeanor
  • Have no Class B misdemeanor convictions within the past 10 years

If you are interested in becoming a police officer in Fort Worth, apply online. If there are no vacancies for police officers, fill out an Interest Card to be notified when one arises. When you submit your application, you must also submit the following documentation:

  • Official driving record copy
  • Copy of social security card
  • Copy of military discharge paper, if applicable
  • Copy of official high school diploma or GED
  • If you have a GED, college transcript showing completion of 12 credits of college
  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Certified copy of birth certificate
  • Certified copy of naturalization papers, if applicable

When you apply online, you will be given an address to which to mail the above documentation.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Physical Assessment Test

After your application is received, you may be contacted to schedule the written exam to become a police officer in Fort Worth. You must pass the written Civil Service exam in order to proceed in the hiring process. Your score will determine your placement on an eligibility list, where you will remain until you are called for a job vacancy or for no longer than one year.

If you are called from the eligibility list, you will next take a Physical Assessment Test (PAT). This consists of an obstacle course mimicking police work. You must complete the obstacle course in 2 minutes 55 seconds or less. You will be wearing 14 to 17 pounds of gear as you complete the following events:

  • Trigger pull
  • Victim rescue
  • Pursuit run
  • Physical restraint task
  • Stair climb
  • Sprint and barrier surmount

The PAT is on a pass/fail basis, and you must pass the test in order to continue in the hiring process.

Step 3. Complete a Personal History, Background Check, Polygraph Test and Interview

If you pass the PAT, you will be given a Personal History booklet, which you must complete in its entirety. You must return this to the Fort Worth Police Department, where a Background Investigator will begin to verify its contents. You must also undergo a polygraph test at this time.

If you are found to meet the standards to this point, you will participate in an oral board interview. The board will consist of representatives from the Fort Worth Police Department, who will interview you to determine your suitability for the job of police officer in Fort Worth.

Step 4. Pass Medical and Psychological Examinations

Before receiving a firm offer of employment from the Fort Worth Police Department, you must pass medical and psychological examinations. Both are designed to determine that you can perform the duties of a Fort Worth police officer physically and mentally.

If you pass these examinations, your information will be sent to the Chief of Police and City Manager. These two have final approval over your appointment to the Fort Worth Police Department.

Step 5. Attend Fort Worth Police Officer Training

Congratulations! You have been appointed as a police officer in Fort Worth! Now you must attend the Fort Worth Police Training Academy for 31 weeks. Instruction will be in basic law enforcement tricks and techniques, firearms, and physical conditioning.

Within six months of hire as a Fort Worth Police Officer, you must live within 30 minutes of your assigned patrol area.

As of 2013, Police Officer Trainees earn   $3208 per month ($38,496 per year) while attending the Fort Worth Police Training Academy. After graduation, a police officer in Fort Worth earns $4348 per month ($52,176 per year).

Becoming a Police Officer in Houston, Texas

The Houston Police Department is involved in protecting the citizens of the fourth largest city in the United States, and the single largest city in Texas. Becoming a police officer in Houston is a long and challenging process that comes with the reward of serving alongside some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the U.S.

This guide provides instructions on how to become a cop in Houston by meeting police officer requirements as established and maintained by the Houston PD:

  1. Verify you meet the key requirements
  2. Pass a written examination and interview
  3. Pass a physical agility test, polygraph test and final interview
  4. Pass a background investigation, medical and psychological exams
  5. Attend the Houston Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Key Requirements for Houston Police Officer Candidacy

You must meet the following key requirements before applying for police officer jobs in Houston:

  • Be between 20 ½ and 44 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have lived and worked in the Greater Houston area
  • Have never been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or felony
  • Have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Have no tattoos or body art that cannot be covered by uniform or plainclothes
  • Meet one of the following qualifications:
    • Have 48 semester hours from an accredited college/university with a 2.0 GPA minimum, or
    • Have at least five years of employment as a licensed Texas (or other state) peace officer, or
    • Have served at least two years of active military duty with an honorable discharge

If you meet these requirements, apply online to become a police officer in Houston. You must also schedule an interview.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Interview

After your application packet is received, you will receive notification of the date and time of your written examination (the Nelson Denny test). This test includes 38 reading comprehension questions and 80 vocabulary questions. You must pass this test to continue in the hiring process.

Once you have finished the test, you will have an interview with a Recruiting Investigator. You must bring the following documents to this interview:

  • Personal History Statement
  • Physical Agility Test Self-Evaluation Form
  • Printed receipt you received when you submitted your application online
  • One copy of your last two payroll checks
  • Credit report from Credit Bureau Services
  • Two copies of Peace Officer Records (if applicable)
  • Two copies of Peace Officer License (if applicable)
  • Maps for any addresses in your history that used a P.O. Box or Route
  • One copy of proof of liability insurance
  • Three  copies of Social Security Card
  • Three copies of valid driver’s license
  • One copy of any applicable divorce petitions and final divorce decrees
  • Three copies of National Guard form NGB-22 (if applicable)
  • Three copies of military discharge papers (if applicable)
  • Three copies of naturalization papers (if applicable)
  • Two copies of college degree (if applicable)
  • A certified college transcript, sealed, from each college  you have attended
  • Two copies of your high school diploma or GED
  • Three copies of your certified birth certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics

The exam and interview will take approximately five hours. If you pass, you will schedule your Physical Agility test.

Step 3. Pass a Physical Agility Test, Polygraph Test and Final Interview

The next step in the hiring process to become a police officer in Houston is the Physical Agility Test. It lasts three hours and consists of the following events, all of which you must pass to pass the test:

  • Weapons Compatibility test – complete six trigger pulls with each hand
  • Agility run (20 seconds or less)
  • Push-ups (at least 15)
  • Vertical jump (at least 16.5 inches)
  • 300 meter sprint (in 78 seconds or less)
  • 1.5 mile run (in 17 minutes 30 seconds or less)

After passing the Physical Agility Test, you will be fingerprinted and must pass a polygraph test. You will then have your final interview with the Houston Police Department.

Step 4. Pass a Background Investigation, Medical and Psychological Exams

A thorough background investigation will be performed. Your criminal, family, personal, financial, employment, residence and credit history will be thoroughly examined. All of the documents you submitted will be verified.

Next, you will take a medical examination. At this time, a physician appointed by the Department will assess your physical capability to perform the job of a Houston police officer. Your vision and hearing will be checked as well.

A psychologist appointed by the Department will also perform a psychological examination. Your mental and emotional stability and suitability for the job will be assessed.

If you pass all of these tests, your application packet will be sent to the Chief of Police for final approval. You will be notified of placement into the Police Training Academy if a vacancy exists.

Step 5. Attend Houston Police Academy

Congratulations! You have completed the long and sometimes difficult process to become a police officer in Houston! You must now attend the Houston Police Academy for 26 weeks of classroom instruction and tests. Subjects you will study include Houston municipal ordinances, Texas Penal Code, Houston Police Department rules and regulations, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Texas Family Code, Texas Transportation Code, crime scenes, self-defense, weapon use, and pursuit driving.

Upon graduation from the Academy, you will be assigned to a patrol station of the Houston Police Department, where you will receive field training and assessment.  After a probationary year, you may move to other divisions within the Department if vacancies exist.

As of 2013, the starting yearly salary for a Houston Police Cadet/Probationary Officer is $31,965. After your probationary year is up, Houston Police Officers earn $42,126 to $66,017 per year.

Becoming a Police Officer in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States, and has over one million citizens. San Antonio’s police officers are charged with protecting the safety and security of this diverse community and its citizens.

Becoming a police officer in San Antonio opens doors to police jobs in specialized internal departments including homicide, executive protection unit, SWAT unit and the Critical Incident (Hostage) Negotiation Team.

  1. Verify you meet the minimum qualifications
  2. Pass a written examination and physical fitness test
  3. Pass a background investigation, board interview and polygraph test
  4. Pass psychological and medical exams
  5. Attend the San Antonio Police Academy

Step 1.  Meet the Minimum Qualifications for San Antonio Police Officer Candidacy

Prior to applying to become a police officer in San Antonio, you should check to make sure that you meet the minimum qualifications, which are:

  • You are at least 20 years and 6 months old, but not yet age 45; or
  • You are age 18 to 20.5 with one of the following:
    • You have completed 60 credits of college
    • You have received an Associate Degree
    • You served in the military for at least two years and were honorably discharged
    • You have a high school diploma with at least a C average, or a GED
    • If you have a GED, you have completed at least 12 college credits with a minimum C average
    • You are a U.S. citizen
    • You do not have two or more hazardous moving traffic offenses within the past year
    • You have no convictions on record above a Class B misdemeanor
    • You have no Class B misdemeanor convictions within the past decade
    • You have no convictions of a crime in family violence

If you meet the minimum qualifications, download an application to become a police officer in San Antonio.

Step 2. Pass a Written Examination and Physical Fitness Test

If your application is reviewed and accepted, you will be notified of the date and time of your written exam. You must pass this exam with a score of at least 70 to continue in the hiring process. If you fail the exam, you must wait six months before taking it again. If you pass, you will be placed on an eligibility list and may be contacted to continue in the hiring process to become a police officer in San Antonio. Your name will remain on the eligibility list for not longer than one year.

After you pass the written exam, you will take a physical fitness test. You must be able to do the following exercises to the standards for your gender and age:

  • Run 1.5 miles
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Jump/climb over a five foot wall
  • Drag a 180 lb dummy 20 feet

You must pass the physical fitness test to continue in the hiring process. If you fail, you may re-take it up to two more times within a 28-day period.

Step 3. Pass a Background Investigation, Board Interview and Polygraph Test

Next, a complete background investigation will be conducted. The following areas will be examined (including but not limited to):

  • Driving record
  • Personal reputation
  • Military background
  • Employment background
  • Education
  • Drug use
  • Arrest record/criminal history
  • Skills or special qualifications
  • Financial responsibility

You will meet with a panel of three representative police officers from the San Antonio Police Department for an interview. They will present various scenarios to you and assess your suitability for the job of police officer in San Antonio via your responses.

Then, you will undergo a polygraph examination given by a trained, licensed individual. This is to verify your truthfulness.

Step 4. Pass Psychological and Medical Exams

The San Antonio Police Department will select a licensed psychologist to conduct a thorough examination. This evaluation is to certify that you are mentally and emotionally suitable to become a police officer in San Antonio.

A licensed physician appointed by the Department will also conduct a thorough physical examination of you. This is to verify that you are medically and physically sound and able to undertake the duties of a San Antonio police officer.

If you pass the above steps, your application will be given to the Chief of Police for review. You may then be appointed as a Police Cadet in the next San Antonio Police Academy class.

Step 5. Attend San Antonio Police Academy

Congratulations! You have made it through the long application process and are now a Police Cadet in San Antonio! You will now attend 20 weeks of training at the San Antonio Police Academy. Training will focus on areas including:

  • Academics
  • Physical training
  • Law enforcement skills

Upon graduation from the Academy, you will be a Police Officer in San Antonio. As of 2013, the starting salary for a police officer in San Antonio is $46,538 per year.

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