Steps To Become a Police Officer in California – Requirements to Become a Cop

How to Become a Police Officer in California

Minimum standards to become a police officer in California are set by a statewide agency, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) but would-be police officers in California, one of the larger states in the country, should be aware that some jurisdictions set the bar higher and have standards that far exceed POST minimums.

With that in mind, here are the qualifications that POST says police officer candidates must meet in California.

California Police Officer Requirements & Qualifications

They must be U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens who are eligible for and who have applied for citizenship. At the time of appointment as a police officer, they must have earned citizenship. The minimum age for applying to become a police officer as established in POST regulations is 18. A California driver’s license is required.

Candidates must not have any felony convictions, must undergo a fingerprint and criminal history background check, have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, pass a battery of medical and psychological tests and a test for reading and writing ability, and then an employment interview.

There is a minimum vision requirement that, if eyeglasses or hard contact lenses are worn, uncorrected vision must be no less than 20/40 in each eye, correct to 20/20. This requirement differs slightly for persons who wear soft contact lenses. They do not have to meet the uncorrected 20/40 standard as long as corrected vision is 20/20 in each eye.

Police Academy Requirements In CA

All city police officers must attend a Regular Basic Course of training. California has more than 40 training academies that provide this training. Anyone can attend one of these schools, whether they are already employed by a police agency or not. Not everyone is accepted, however. Applicants must undergo a criminal background check and any felony conviction will prevent enrollment.

Attending an academy on your own can be expensive. It’s like paying college tuition. An alternative is to get hired in advance by a police agency, which will then sponsor and pay for your academy attendance.

The Basic Course of Training Program is extensive. Students undergo 560 hours of classroom and field training in 43 subject areas, and another 104 hours in scenario, written and physical fitness testing. For a complete breakdown of the course see

After graduating, and then receiving a POST-certified Certificate of Completion, you’ll go to work as a police officer for the agency that sponsored you. Once on the job, new hires can expect a probation period ranging from 12 to 24 months, depending on the agency. POST regulations require a minimum of 12 months probation but some jurisdictions go beyond that minimum and require a longer probationary period.

 Many police jurisdictions in California have their own websites that you can look at to determine specific standards for the locality. For example, if you were interested in Los Angeles you could go to Other cities have similar sites. The POST web site with its list of minimum standards and other important information can be found at

Average Salary For Police Officers, Deputy Sheriff’s And Highway Patrol in California

According to the United States Bureau of labor statistics, a police officer/deputy sheriff in the state of California make between $60,000-$79,000 per year. However the data collected by BLS is a little misleading since it does not include overtime pay, special assignment pay and of course off duty work paid by a third party.

If overtime pay was included in the projected salary range of a police officer in the data collected by BLS. It is very likely that the base pay would be 100k. The truth is police officers in CA have the potential to make six figures if they are motivated to pick up extra shifts and work off duty details like in a bar, bank or a security conscious type of environment.

Police Department/Sheriff Department Jobs in California

If you want to get into law enforcement in California there are plenty of jobs available, however you must know how to search for them. The best way to search for jobs in the law enforcement industry is to first visit our Job Center Website and search for openings in your area. Secondly, visit the agency’s website religiously to see when is the next test date.

Don’t just limit your search to just police officer positions. You can also search for careers in corrections, probation, parole and etc.

If you aren’t having any luck in finding employment in your area try other counties and cities in California. Below is a list of all the law enforcement agencies in CA. Don’t just limit yourself to just one police department, try applying to several different agencies