What Are The Minimum Requirements
Heres a look at the minimum requirements to become a police officer in California. Keep in mind that the majority of police departments in the state follow POST requirements. You can find the agencies that dont here their requirements may vary, but are likely to be similar to the below:
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- You must be a citizen of the US through either naturalization or birth.
- You must have attained either your high school diploma or GED. Some agencies may require a 4-year degree or an associates degree.
- You must have a valid drivers license.
- No felony convictions or misdemeanors that prohibit ownership, possession or control of a firearm.
How Much Does It Pay
According to the most recent occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and sheriff’s patrol officers in California make an average salary of $107,440 per year.
And even though California is one of the most expensive states to live in, the state makes up for that by offering the highest pay to police officers in the country. In fact, cops in California make nearly 60% more than the national average police salary of $67,290.
For a look at some of the police officer jobs currently available in California, visit our careers page. You can also check out POST listings here.
This article, originally published May 2018, has been updated.
Do you think you have what it takes to be a cop? Download a veteran police officer’s list of the 10 questions you need to ask yourself before starting a career in law enforcement by filling out the form below:
10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE BECOMING A POLICE OFFICER
Maximum Age To Become A Police Officer
Many departments don’t have a maximum age after which a prospect will no longer be able to apply. For example, the San Diego Police Department and according to the Department of Police Service in the City of New Haven, this agency doesnt have an upper age limit. Just as many departments do have rules about the maximum age for new applications to begin their training and to be hired, however.
In New York City, prospects must take the initial exam before their 35th birthday, while the Fort Worth Police Department will let candidates take the exam up to age 44. Applicants should not assume that if they’re older than 30 they’re ineligible to become a police officer, but they should carefully investigate the requirements in their area.
Read Also: How Do Police Train Their Dogs
What Hours Will I Have To Work
Patrol Officers work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week year round. Patrol officers work on a rotating schedule that includes weekends and holidays, and officers are assigned to one of three watches:
- First Watch: 0300-1200 or 0330 – 1230
- Second Watch: 1100-2000 or 1130 – 2030
- Third Watch: 1900-0400 or 1930 – 0430
Officers work 4 days in a row, and then have 2 days off. As a result, our officers work a little more than 40 hours in an average work week. Those extra hours are tracked and then scheduled as additional paid time off throughout the year, similar to paid vacation.
When Is It Too Late To Go Into Policing
If you can meet the physical demands of the job, it is never too late to start your career in policing. Many of our officers have had other careers, and their prior fields have been as diverse as social work, piloting commercial aircraft, information technology, law practice, engineering and professional athletes. Many of our officers go into policing because they want a job where they can see immediate results of their efforts and make a difference in peoples lives everyday.
Don’t Miss: How To Become A Capitol Police Officer
It’s Not Too Late To Live Your Dream
There’s probably a good chance that you can enjoy a second career as a police officer if you can pass a physical abilities test or a fitness evaluation, and if your background and work history are suitable for a law enforcement job. Now is the time for you to complete that application and take the first step toward a rewarding second career if you’ve always wanted to work in law enforcement.
You’re Only As Old As You Feel
You might be surprised by the answers you get if you ask different law enforcement officers about their backgrounds and what they did before they became police officers. Different people with different backgrounds join the force, and you’ll learn that they found their way to this profession at different stages of life…some of them later than others.
Not all police departments have maximum age requirements.
You May Like: How Do You Become A Police Officer
And They Don’t Always Trust Their Fellow Men In Uniform
The same way you don’t get along with all of your coworkers, cops also deal with comrades who aren’t necessarily their favorite people. “We do not always trust the people we are working with, the ones wearing the same uniform we are wearing,” said Bruno. “Some are cowards, some are lazy, some are liars. Many times we try to get rid of them. Sometimes we can, sometimes we cannot.” And for ways to make your job more enjoyable, check out these 20 Daily Confidence Boosters for Getting Ahead at Work.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life,
What Are My Options In Patrol Work
Most patrol officers work in one-person or two person patrol cars. In high-density areas, patrol officers often walk their beats. In urban areas with a lot of traffic, bike patrols are often used as a more flexible way to cover ground. As a patrol officer, you can also work on a Community Policing Team, an Anti-Crime Team or undercover.
Recommended Reading: How To File A Police Report For Credit Card Theft
Pass The Police Recruitment Process
We guarantee that this online resources will teach you how to navigate the different elements of the selection process. The package contains 269+ pages of police recruitment information, tests, and videos which will guide you through each of the different elements of selection, including the application form, the assessment centre, the interviews and the fitness test.
Pass The Licensing Exam
The next step to becoming a police officer is to earn a passing score on your states police licensing board exam. Your education and training will prepare you to take the Peace Officer Standards and Training exam.
Each state has its own licensing board, so the tests will also vary. But generally speaking, most POST exams cover topics like: practical application and techniques, civil and criminal law, community policing, victims rights and management and communication. By passing this capstone exam, you are licensed to become a police officer and enforce the law in your jurisdiction. You are now free to seek employment with a police department.
Read Also: How To Become A Police Officer Step By Step
And Even If You Were Arrested There Are Things That You Can Say Before Being Read Your Rights That Are Admissible In Court
Most of the things you say before being read your Miranda rights are considered inadmissible in court. However, Michigan criminal lawyer and defense attorney Patrick Barone notes on MirandaWarning.org that there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, “if a statement is made that admits to crime was not made in response to a question,” then the police can use that admission against you in court.
Read Law Enforcement Resources
Nowadays, there is very little perhaps nothing that cannot be researched extensively with just a few keystrokes and an Internet connection. In addition to Police1 the leading online resource for law enforcers, and probably also for aspiring officers there are myriad websites with quality information about doing the job. Oh, and dont forget that you can borrow books on law enforcement from the library.
Don’t Miss: How Can You Get A Police Report
Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Police Officer
Like any job, being a police officer has its perks and its drawbacks. Pursuing a career in law enforcement is a reasonable commitment and requires a high level of dedication. Those who genuinely want to serve and protect must know that it is important to consider all aspects of the job before deciding to pursue a career as a police officer. You will be expected to go through extensive and ongoing training and will be facing dangerous situations in this line of work.
Below are a number of points which can help you gain a better understanding of what to consider when making this decision:
How Old Can You Be To Go Into Law Enforcement
Becoming a law enforcement officer is often the dream career of many regardless of their age. A lot of people, however, do ask themselves if they are too young or too old to go into law enforcement. There are minimum age limits set by each state, and some states set a maximum age as well for going into law enforcement. There is a listing of the police officer requirements for each state. When it comes to actually getting hired by an agency, as does not matter as much as how well the applicant is prepared for the job, and the competitive selection process.
Mastering the Police Interview quite often turns out to be the real determining factor for the successful candidate. If you are able to handle your oral interview well, you can present your age as an advantage, regardless of the actual number. Younger candidates have the privilege of being open to learn and adopt the habits of the agency they apply for, while older applicants bring a lot of life experience with themselves.
Yet, if you are still wondering what is the best age to apply for a law enforcement officer, below you will find more details about the minimum and maximum age requirements, as well as some useful tips on how to prepare for the job while still in your teen years.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Find My Police Report Online
Look At Maturity And Life Experience Not Age
We have hired people in their late 20s and early 30s who didn’t make it. I think it has to be a maturity level of emotions and a completely clear understanding of what LE actually does and sees and experiences rather than posting an age requirement. David Garcia
I started as a reserve deputy at the age of 19. As the head of my office, I would not make that type of decision to hire such a young person regardless of how mature they are. You can hire too young, but I believe you can’t hire too old. I think 24-28 is a great range for a first-time officer. A little maturity and life experience are necessary for this type of career. Chris Matthews
Age doesn’t matter. Relevant education, life and work experience, and maturity matter. To gain most of that takes a certain time, so I would say 18 is illogical, even 21 isn’t old enough in most cases. Kids who go straight into an academy after high school should have a transitional stage where they work with training officers or have other positions like in detention that are easier to monitor instead of sending them out on their own. Dominique Gourdon
The age doesnt need to change, but I do believe anyone who wants to be an officer should be required to have at least one year of jail experience. The minimum age for that is 18. Dustin Bresko
Is Becoming A Police Officer In Your Future
While the steps to becoming a police officer may seem lengthy, completing them is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve the fulfilling career youve set your sights on. And a good law enforcement program will help you navigate the process.
Now that youre familiar with the process of how to become a police officer, you may be curious if you have what it takes to excel on the job. Learn more in our article, Often Overlooked Qualities of a Great Police Officer.
If youre already set on becoming a police officer, visit our Law Enforcement degree page to learn how we can help you take the next step toward becoming a police officer in Minnesota.
The Law Enforcement programs at Rasmussen University are not aligned to the standards of any professional licensing body other than the MN POST and are not intended to satisfy professional licensure requirements of any professional licensing agency in any other state.Editors note: This article was originally published in June 2016. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020. Insight from Shetler and Plantinga remain from the original.
Also Check: How Long To Be Police Officer
Things Teens Who Want To Be Cops Can Do To Start On The Right Path
Above all else, remember that if at first you dont succeed, try again harder
Police1 received an inquiry from a 14-year-old girl who wants to know what she needs to do now and throughout her matriculation in school to put herself in a good position to enter the law enforcement profession. Its heartening to know that there are young people out there who admire and aspire to be cops, so we promptly responded to her inquiry.
Doing so served as an impetus for us to create a basic document that officers and administrators can use when they receive similar questions from kids in jurisdictions across the United States. The future of law enforcement will largely depend on how well we do in cultivating and recruiting the next generation of cops.
Heres a short list of things that you can tell young people in your area to consider when planning for a law enforcement career. Add your own suggestions in the comments area below.
Considering The Age Committed
Police background check disqualifiers rarely include non-violent, non-felony arrests that took place as a juvenile, according to the San Diego Police Department. In such cases, departments generally make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Factors they may consider include your age at the time of the arrest. If you were arrested at age 10, you have a better chance at employment than if you were arrested at age 17.
Recommended Reading: How Do Police Monitor Social Media
They Also Can’t Search Your Property Without A Warrant Or Your Consent
Not only do police officers not have the right to enter your home without a warrant, but they also can’t search your property without one or your consent. But this right is rather recent it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled in Collins v. Virginia that “when a law enforcement officer physically intrudes on to gather evidence, a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment has occurred.”
What Law Enforcement Can Learn From The Military
I spent 22 years in the USAF Security Forces. Airmen at 18 carry weapons and are entrusted with the security of nuclear weapons one day, conducting law enforcement activities the next and deployed to a war zone the next. One thing I found over the years is that age and book smarts do not guarantee youll be a good officer. Setting an age limit that substantially reduces your pool of potential applicants is counterproductive. John C. Brocker
I do think that 21 is reasonable. We send 18-year-olds to war equipped with significant firepower, but they are normally closely supervised by NCOs who are older and more experienced. In law enforcement, there is far less direct supervision, widely varying situations but extreme scrutiny after the fact. A few more years to mellow a bit and experience life seems prudent for law enforcement, but 25 years of age seems extreme. J. Filice
If I can serve my country in the military at 18 the same rule should apply to serving my country domestically. Science does show that cognitively individuals are still developing until their mid- to late-20s, however, age does not factor in lived experiences that influence the ability to process or connect with others during traumatic experiences. Those prior life experiences can lend more credence for the officer supporting their community and increased empathy. These should ALL be factors taken into consideration when choosing the proper application, not solely based on age. Angela Matthews
Don’t Miss: What Company Makes Police Body Cameras
Clear Your Medical Exam
In addition to a physical abilities assessment, you probably will be examined by a doctor to make sure you are physically fit and healthy enough to do the job. Unlike the fitness assessment, the medical assessment makes certain your body, heart, and lungs are up for the task.
A separate eye exam to check for depth perception, color blindness, and overall vision is also common. Generally, it is expected that your eyesight is correctable to 20/30 or better, and no worse than 20/40 uncorrected.
Introductions Into Law Enforcement For Teens
While most people have to apply to the police force and attend a police academy to become an officer, you can become introduced to working in this line of work early. For example, some police agencies offer a teen police academy that is open to teens that are 16 to 18 years of age. This type of training is outlined specifically for high school students and takes place for a period of about five days.
Teens, in this setting, can learn more about building searches, crime scene investigations, SWAT activities, and working with K9s. Teens also get the opportunity to test their driving skills in a marked police vehicle. In addition, participants can also process a mock scene of a crime.
Don’t Miss: Where Do You Get A Police Report