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How To Become A Police Officer In Chicago

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Illinois Sheriffs Deputy Requirements

How to become a police officer in Chicago 1949 (Roblox)

There are over 100 counties in Illinois and most have an elected sheriff. The most populous county in Illinois is Cook County, in which Chicago and several collar suburbs are located. In order to become a deputy sheriff, candidates must meet state requirements for law enforcement officers and:

  • Can not have ever been classified as a conscientious objector by a local draft board
  • Can not concurrently hold the office of county treasurer
  • Can not, after appointment, appear in court as an attorney, nor become security for individuals in any legal proceedings
  • Can not, after appointment, purchase property at any sheriffs sale

Firearm Owners Identification Card

The Firearm Owners Identification Card, or FOID, is not required to apply, but you must have an FOID issued by the state of Illinois at time of hire. The CPD recommends applying for the FOID as early as possible since the state takes about 30 days to process requests. The Illinois State Police provides the forms online, where you can complete and print the forms to mail with the required fee to fulfill this Chicago police requirement.

Becoming A Detective With The Chicago Bureau Of Detectives

The Chicago Police Department requires that all hired officers serve a probationary period of at least eighteen months as an entry-level police officer before they can apply to a more specific unit and begin working in investigations.

The starting salary for an entry-level officer is $43,104 for the first year, but is raised to $55,723 in the second year.


In order to become a police officer with the Chicago Police Department, the following educational requirements must be met:

  • Applicants must complete a minimum of 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of college credit from an accredited school
  • Completion of four years of continual active duty in the United States military
  • One full year of military service in the military of the United States combined with the completion of the 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours from an accredited college or university

Other Requirements:

Joining the Chicago Police Department is a rigorous process that involves many different phases of testing and assessment. This process involves:

  • An initial written exam
  • An overall health exam

Applicants must also be at least 21 years old and younger than 40.

All applicants that fulfill requirements will be added to an eligibility list. This list is not a guarantee of employment, but it is an important step towards being hired by the Chicago Police Department.

Training Academy:

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What Are The Requirements To Become A Police Officer In Chicago

Due to the extensive responsibilities a police officer is tasked with, there are numerous requirements which need to be satisfied before youre sworn in as a member of the police force. All prospective candidates must first satisfy a list of prerequisites. If these requirements are satisfied, a candidate must then undergo training at a police academy.

An outline of the steps required to become a police officer in Chicago is as follows:

  • Meet the minimum requirements
  • Complete training at a police academy

Chicago Police Officer Training Prerequisites And Education Requirements

Police Officer Titus T. Moore, Chicago Police Department, Illinois

To become a Chicago police officer, applicants must have one of the following: 60 semester hours of college credit three years of continuous active duty with the United States Armed Forces or one year of continuous active duty with the United States Armed Forces combined with 30 semester hours of college credit. Candidates must also be US citizens between 21 and 40 years of age and have Chicago residency at the time of hire.

Although the 60 semester hours of college credit that are required to qualify for the CPD can be in any subject, earning an associates or bachelors degree in criminal justice or a related field can increase an applicants chances of being hired as well as provide additional opportunities for career advancement. The hiring pool for CPD officer positions is extremely competitive in 2015, over 14,000 prospective officers applied during the open application period.2

Those who pass the screening process are conditionally hired as police recruits and attend the CPD Recruit Academy. In the academy, recruits will study topics such as criminal law, firearms training, emergency vehicle operation, traffic law, report writing, crime investigation, and defensive tactics. The thorough training program consists of approximately 1,000 hours of instruction. Upon graduation from the police academy, recruits complete an additional 13 months of field training while under supervision as probationary officers.

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Chicago Police Officer Requirements

Prospective Chicago cops must meet a number of prerequisites required by the department. The department typically only opens the recruiting process every few years upcoming hiring periods are announced through the CPD website. To be considered for hire, applicants must:

  • Be a US permanent resident
  • Be at least 20 years old, but younger than 40 years old
  • Hold a current drivers license in the state of Illinois by the time of hire
  • Legal residents of Chicago by the time of hire
  • Have at least 60 semester hours from an accredited college or university or have an acceptable combination of education and employment or active duty experience

Candidates who meet these requirements and apply during an open recruiting period will be placed on an eligibility list. Applicants with passing scores will be placed on a pre-qualified applicant list and entered into a lottery. As positions become available, those entered into the lottery will be called for further processing. The next steps include passing the Pre-Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report Test and drug screen completing a personal history questionnaire and undergoing a background investigation taking a final POWER physical exam and passing psychological and medical examinations. Candidates may then receive a formal offer of employment. All candidates looking to work in Chicago law enforcement must attend the citys police academy before being eligible for hire as sworn officers.

From Security Guard To Police Officer

While there are a fair number of employment opportunities, as you have seen in the information presented in this article, policy agencies hire only the most suitable candidates. So you need to do what you can to ensure that your application stands out from the rest.

Police agency recruiters advise applicants to significantly improve their chances of being selected through:

  • Private Security Jobs: Security jobs provide a work experience that prepares you for your role as a police officer. The skills you learn, the duties involved, the situations you encounter as well as the opportunities to work alongside law enforcement officers, all provide well-rounded preparation for your future role as a police officer.
  • Awards: Awards that recognize your ability to be a top performer are a strong indicator of work ethic.
  • Volunteer Experience & Community Involvement: Contributing your time to an organization that does meaningful work demonstrates good character. Be an active member of your community to show that participating and serving your community is important to you.
  • Training & Education: While a degree in criminology would help, you dont necessarily need post-secondary education. Relevant training and education can include training that you receive on the job as a security officer. And unlike the time and financial investment involved in post-secondary education, you can get paid while you learn with a job as a security guard.
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    Successfully Pass A Background Check

    You can expect any law enforcement agency youre applying for to conduct a number of checks into your background, including criminal history and even credit history. While this isnt literally the first step to becoming a police officer, it is the first one youll need to consider before you get too invested in the process. If you have concerns about how your background might impact your candidacy, you may want to consult a police academy admissions representative about it.

    Your credit history may be analyzed because it gives potential employers an idea of your level of responsibility and potential problems like gambling-related debts. Police departments look into applicants history of criminal activity, employment, residency and academic records as well.

    Basically, the police department is going to get deep into your business, says Adam Plantinga, and 17-year veteran sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department. Dont leave anything out on your background packet. If you omit something, even inadvertently, and it comes to light, you will likely be eliminated as a candidate. Departments are looking for responsible people who play by the rules.

    Things like felonies and gross misdemeanors could disqualify you from becoming a police officer, but less serious offenses could also be problematicit really depends on the department and its policies.

    Education Training And Experience:

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    • AGE
      • To apply, applicants must reach their 20th birthday by . Verification of age will be checked at the entrance of the written exam. Candidates who will not reach the age of 20 by will not be allowed to take the written examination.
      • To be eligible to enter the Police Academy, applicants must have reached their 21st birthday. Pursuant to the Municipal Code of Chicago, no person may be appointed as a probationary Police Officer after the person’s 40th birthday. Please note, individuals who pass the written examination will be contacted by CPD regarding next steps in the process by April 2018. The hiring process generally takes between 6-12 months.
    • EDUCATION/MILITARY SERVICE: At time of hire, applicants must have at least 60 semester hours from an accredited college or university . Please note: Applicants will be referred in lottery order to the Police Department to complete a Pre-POWER Test. Upon successful completion of the Pre-POWER Test, only candidates who meet the minimum qualifications will continue with further processing. Disclaimer – “Accredited” means any nationally or regionally accredited college, university, or law school where the applicant is enrolled in or has completed an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Juris Doctorate degree program.

    Educational requirement may be waived if:

      • Applicant has served three continuous years on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States .

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    How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer

    The process of becoming a police officer requires a significant investment of your time. The duration varies and depends on how quickly and accurately an individual completes the forms and assessments. This also depends on the police agency you apply at.

    The CPS states that their process takes between 3-6 months to complete. The RCMP doesnt provide a set duration for the entire process their cadet training takes 26 weeks. At the VPD, the recruit training alone takes up to 44 weeks in total.

    Generally, you can expect to set aside 6 months for your application process. We recommend that you contact the police agency that youre interested in to find out how long their process takes from start to finish.

    Acquire A Degree Or Academy Training

    The requirements for this step will vary substantially depending on the state in which you plan on becoming a police officer. Some states do not require their officers to be college-educated, even if they may prefer it. Other states, like Minnesota, an Associates degree or equivalent training is one of the requirements to become a police officer.

    Generally speaking, the training process for aspiring police officers follows two routes:

    Since police officer requirements differ, youll want to be sure to check with the agency that sets the standards for law enforcement training and licensure in your area. Some also have arrangements for military reciprocity, allowing candidates who served in the military to follow a different process in acknowledgement of the training they already have.

    Whichever path you take, your training will include classroom instruction in state and local laws, covering topics like constitutional law, civil rights and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.

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    Protect Chicago Park Citizens

    One of the chief obligations of a law enforcement officer is helping the populace. They are supposed to prevent them from any harm. To do so, they can injure or shoot a possible assailant that might cause the police or citizens harm. Therefore, they are entitled to bear weapons. They can request support if a situation goes out of their control. From time to time, they may have to handle explosives and, if it is within their ability, deactivate it themselves.

    What Is The Structure Of The Police Testing

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    Below are the pre employment procedures each potential Chicago police officer will go through. Each step in the testing process is an opportunity to showcase valuable traits you will need to have as an active duty officer.

    Chicago Police Testing includes:

    • Final Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report Test
    • For more on the POWER test,

    Here are some things to consider before taking the tests:

    The Police Department needs good communicators who can clearly respond on radio-comms, write concise reports and case files as well as speak appropriately and professionally with civilians and criminals

    Police officers need to be effective problem solvers, through stressful and sterile circumstances, officers need to respond in calm and controlled actions. Throughout the testing process you will need to solve problems that will occur in the field, this is a great opportunity to show how valuable you might be as an officer.

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    Licensure Certification Or Other Qualifications:

    • Must have a valid State of Illinois driver’s license at the time of hire.
    • You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident at the time of hire.
    • Must be a resident in the City of Chicago at the time of hire.
    • Must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification card issued by the State of Illinois at the time of entry to the Police Academy.
    • Must pass background investigation.

    Life Experience Makes A Very Big Difference

    In Chicago, about 3,800 people took the police departments entry exam over the four months it was offered in 2021. As many as 22,000 took the exam in 2018, about 14,000 applicants in 2016, and about 19,000 applicants in 2013.

    The Chicago Police Departments attrition rate more than doubled from 4% in 2020 to 8.5% in 2021, according to Brown. Chicago police declined to comment on how many people took recent entrance exams, or were hired from those exams, but called the pool of candidates very small.

    The 60 hours of college credit requirement can be prohibitive, Brown said two weeks ago at a news conference. A deputy chief, at the same news conference, said that life experience really does make a very big difference.

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    Police Education And Training

    Police officers investigate and prevent crime, ensuring that law and order is maintained in every community. A challenging job, to become a police officer in Chicago the applicants must have a minimum 60 semester hours from an accredited college. A degree in criminal justice or criminal law is quite comprehensive and prepares students for a career in police force. Through a broad and engaging curriculum, students learn about state laws, crime, criminal investigation, and criminal justice framework. Most people aspiring to become a police officer opt for bachelors degree in criminal justice field. To pursue career as police officer, students can choose from various degree programs that include associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree, and certification programs.

    Illinois Police Jobs Outlook

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    For those interested in pursuing law enforcement careers in Illinois, there is a lot of promise. Statewide, Illinois cops earn an average annual salary of $73,870, and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro division has the third-highest average law enforcement salary in the US, at $79,690 per year.1 The projected jobs growth through 2026 for Illinois cops is 4.1%, with an anticipated average of 2,380 job openings every year.8

    A large part of the growth expected is due to population growth. Another expected driver of police hiring in the coming years is the number of baby boomer veteran police officers who will be retiring. This situation is expected to result in a high number of replacement hirings. However, as with most public service jobs, employment cycles are dependent on state and city budgets.

    For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.

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    Municipal Police Force Salaries & Benefits

    In comparison to the federal police force, the municipal police agencies offer slightly higher salaries.

    The Calgary Police Service offers a starting salary of approximately $66,000/year.

    The Vancouver Police Department offers new hires $70,154/year with an incremental increase to $90,198 after 3 years. Benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental benefits and a BC Municipal Pension Plan membership.

    The Toronto Police Service has a starting salary of $63,564.98 for their cadets. After year 3, police officers receive an annual salary of $90,836. Benefits include paid vacation, family medical and dental benefits, life insurance, pension plan, parental/maternity leave and more.

    Considering that the median income for individual Canadians was $36,400 in 2018, according to Statistics Canada, the starting salary for a Canadian police officer is an attractive one.

    When deciding between the federal or municipal level, keep in mind that while the RCMP might have a lower salary, the role involves police duties at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels with a much wider variety in operational and administrative opportunities.Some specializations that are unique to the RCMP are: Integrated Border Enforcement Team, National Security, Marine Services, International Peace Operations and many, many more.

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