Austin PD Hiring Process

Message From APD Chief of Police

If you are looking for information on the steps a candidate needs to become a police officer for Austin Police Department you have landed on the right web page. However you must understand that application process for APD is a long and tedious one. Sometimes taking as long as one year until you are hired.

Although the application process is long – APD is a great department to work for, and the wait will be worth it if you ever get hired.  There are 10 steps in the hiring process for Austin PD, and they are as followed:

  1. Background History Application Packet
  2. Physical Ability Stage-Day One
  3. Entrance Testing-Day One
  4. Oral Interview Board-Day Two
  5. Background Investigation
  1. Polygraph Stage
  2. Psychological Interview
  3. Medical/Physical Assessment
  4. Drug Testing Stage
  5. Placement in the Eligibility Pool

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Austin PD Requirements &  Qualifications

  • Must be a current U.S. Citizen per TCLEOSE rules and requirements.
  • In order to apply you must have allof the following;
    • Age must fall between 21 and not yet 45 years of age. Applicants cannot turn 46 before the start of the academy.
    • High School Diploma, High School Transcripts, or G.E.D. Certificate
  • You must have at a minimum at least one of the 3 following requirements at time of application:
    • 30 credit hours at a regionally or nationally accredited college/university with a 2.0 or higher grade point average (GPA is calculated from all transcripts) OR
    • 24 months prior or current U.S. military service duty (Active,Reserve or National Guard) with an honorable discharge (general discharges under honorable conditions will be reviewed on a case by case basis) OR
    • 24 months prior or current full time service as a U.S. police officer (active service police officers that have less than 24 months of service may apply if they currently have 12 continuous months of police service and they will have a total of 24 months of police service 1 month prior to the start of the academy estimated to start in the fall of 2012)
    • Please note that only applicants from regionally accredited colleges are eligible for the educational pay incentive. Some nationally accredited colleges may not be accepted so please email the Recruiting Unit to check on eligibility
    • Valid and current drivers license.

Austin PD Lake Patrol

Austin PD Medical Disqualifiers

The following medical conditions will disqualify an applicant. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, after careful consideration of each applicant’s particular medical situation.

  • Any chronic degenerative or demyelinating neurological disease (such as amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [Lou Gehrig’s disease], or multiple sclerosis, etc.).
  • Any disease that treatment requires constant, multiple daily testing and medication adjustments (if applicant is diabetic they will need a clearance letter to be signed by their personal physician after they have passed the initial testing phases. It will not be needed with the initial application and can be requested at Recruiting from your assigned background investigator).
  • Any complex seizure disorder.
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • Significantly abnormal stress EKG suggesting coronary artery disease.
  • Evidence of complex or multiple psychotropic drug therapy.
  • Anosmia-Applicants must possess a sense of smell in order to function as a police cadet or officer.
  • Uncorrected visual acuity must be at least 20/100 (both eyes) for those who wear glasses or hard contact lenses. Wearers of soft contact lenses are exempt from uncorrected visual acuity.
  • Corrected visual acuity should be at least 20/20 (both eyes) and 20/40 (each eye).
  • The horizontal visual field should be at least 120 degrees in each eye.
  • Color vision and night vision must be normal and a deficiency in either will be a disqualifier.
  • For applicants who have completed refractive surgery to correct vision, the operating physician must complete a “Corrected Vision Surgical Form”. This form may be obtained by contacting the Recruiting Unit. It will not be needed until later in the hiring process and prior to your final medical evaluation. This form can be requested from your assigned background investigator.
  • Hearing Loss: At least 25 DB in each ear at the following frequencies: 500, 1K, 2K and 3K. An applicant failing this requirement will be referred for further testing and possible use of a hearing aid.

Austin PD Applicant Disqualifiers

Disqualifiers include but are not limited to the following:

  • Having a conviction for, being under indictment for, or currently charged with any felony offense.
  • Having a conviction for or currently charged with any misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude.
  • Having been convicted of an offense above the grade of a Class B misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor within the last ten (10) years.
  • Having a conviction for driving under the influence (DWI or DUI) within ten (10) years preceding the date of application or during the hiring process.
  • Having been or currently on court-ordered community supervision or probation for any criminal offense above the grade of Class B misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor within the last ten (10) years. This includes deferred adjudication for Class B misdemeanor or above charges.
  • Is not currently under indictment for any criminal offense.
  • Is not prohibited by state or federal law from operating a motor vehicle.
  • Having a conviction or history of Family Violence.
  • Has not been discharged from any military service under less than honorable conditions including: specifically; (A) under other than honorable conditions;(B) bad conduct; (C) dishonorable; or (D) any other characterization of service indicating bad character.
  • Having had a law enforcement commission license denied by final order,revoked or having voluntarily surrendered your license to avoid suspension.
  • Discharged from any commission or recruit position within a law enforcement agency for disciplinary reasons, resigning to avoid suspension or discharge or having resigned during a disciplinary investigation without final judgment being rendered.
  • Discharged from any city, county, state, federal or private corrections institution for disciplinary reasons to avoid suspension or discharge, or having resigned during a disciplinary investigation without a final judgment being rendered.
  • History of sustained Internal Affairs complaints or behavior that indicates poor conduct.
  • Unacceptable driving record or currently classified as a habitual violator. History or pattern of unsafe driving including at fault collisions.
  • Drivers license suspension for any reason that indicates poor driving behavior or responsibility to comply with state laws- Up to 5 years from the time of suspension to application. This does not include suspensions resulting from MIP violations.
  • Unstable credit history; this includes (A) a consistent history of issuance of bad checks; (B) history of delinquent payments; (C) not meeting financial obligations. Credit history will be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine continuing eligibility in the hiring process.
  • If you are prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.
  • Failure to meet application process deadlines.
  • Must pass a Polygraph, Medical, Psychological screening and Drug Test screening.
  • Making false statements, being deceptive by statement or omission in the hiring and selection process will be a permanent disqualifier.
  • Failure to keep appointment(s) or provide documentation related to the hiring process. At least 24 hour prior notice for rescheduling of appointments is required to avoid disqualification unless otherwise specified.
  • Any use of marijuana within the last 3 years from time of application. Others factors, such as age at time of use and frequency will be reviewed for eligibility.
  • Selling of marijuana. Disqualified for a set number of years to be determined by Recruiting Unit.
  • Selling any controlled substance or dangerous drugs is a permanent disqualifier.
  • Using a controlled substance or dangerous drug illegally within a designated time period from date of application. Disqualification is not an automatic permanent disqualifier but depending on the substance used and frequency of use disqualification time will vary. 

Austin PD Bomb Squad


The Background History Application is the official application for the position of Police Cadet.

Applicants may go to the “Application” link section of the Recruiting Unit web site and complete a short interest card on line. Once the interest card has been submitted the applicant will be allowed to print out the Background History Application and Background Instructions.

The Background History Application packet must be mailed to the Austin Police Department Recruiting Unit with the required documents or it will be rejected and given back to the applicant until all documents are received. To view which documents are needed for your packet go to the “Application” link on the web site.

Once the applicant has passed the Background History Application interview they will be eligible to receive a testing confirmation letter. Please go to the Recruiting Unit web page menu and review “Test Dates” link for more information.

You will be required to be in Austin, Texas for 2 days of initial testing. Day 1 will be the entrance test and physical ability stage. Day 2 will be psychological written test and formal Oral Board interviews for all applicants.

On Day 2 of testing all applicants are encouraged to wear appropriate interview clothing for a formal Oral Board interview that may last up to 1 hour.


Each applicant must successfully complete all stages of the physical ability test to remain eligible for employment consideration.

The following information is designed to describe the physical tasks you will be required to perform for the Austin Police Department’s physical ability examination. You will increase your chances of a passing score if you spend a fair amount of time preparing for the test.

Vertical Leap

Applicants will be measured on their height with feet flat on the ground and arm raised straight overhead. Then from a flat footed position (you may bend your legs), jump straight up as high as you can. You will not be allowed to have a running jump start. You must jump at least 16 inches past your measured reach. Applicants must pass the vertical jump to continue in the process.

1.5 Mile Run

The applicant will be required to complete 1.5 mile run. The course is completed at a local middle school running track. You must complete the run in 14 minutes 32 seconds or less to pass this portion of the hiring process. Applicants may wear running attire such as shorts and running shoes. The use of any electronic equipment is prohibited. Please note that during the second day of the Training Academy those applicants selected will be required to run a 6 mile run at an approximate 10 minute mile pace.


Applicants will then conduct a Pass/Fail physical assessment of 33 sit-ups timed in 1 minute and 30 push-ups, which are untimed. Applicants must pass both the sit ups and push ups to continue in the process. Please refer to Recruiting Unit website menu “Training Academy” link for information on the correct method for push-ups and sit-ups.

300 Meter Sprint

The applicant will be required to complete a 300 meter sprint. The sprint is completed at a local middle school running track. You must complete the sprint in 70 seconds or less to pass this portion of the hiring process. Applicants may wear running attire such as shorts and running shoes. The use of any electronic equipment is prohibited. Applicants must pass the timed run to continue in the process.

The APD Recruiting Unit offers applicants a workout group to assist you: Senior Police Officer Bonnie Caudill leads a group on Thursdays at 6:30 am. This workout group utilizes high intensity training techniques and principals. For location of workout group please contact Officer Caudill at 512-974-4470 or

This program is also available for those applicants who have passed the entire hiring process and would like assistance staying in shape before the academy starts.

Please go to the following links for more information on the Austin Police Recruiting Unit workout group at Twitter (!/APDWorkout) or Facebook (!/pages/APD-Workout/151389851573432)


Nelson Denny Test

The entrance exam consists of two portions. The first step involves taking the Nelson Denny reading comprehension test. There are 80 vocabulary questions and 38 reading comprehension questions. You are expected to put your answers on a Scantron answer sheet. You scoring sheet will be processed and you must receive a passing grade in order to continue in the hiring process. The passing score is based on a high school reading comprehension level.

No Study Guides are offered by the Recruiting Unit. A search of the internet will provide sample test questions for the Nelson Denny exam.

Writing Sample

Applicants will also submit a sample of their writing skills. Applicants will be shown a video of a crime and will be asked to describe in detail what they observed. Applicants will be graded on detail, neatness and grammar.

Applicants are encouraged to bring their own lunch and snacks on Day 1. Due to the time constraints placed on Day 1 activities you will not be allowed off site for lunch.

Conditional Offer of Employment: Applicants who successfully complete the Nelson Denny reading comprehension/vocabulary examination and Physical Ability Testing will be given a conditional offer of employment. This offer is conditional upon successful completion of the remaining portions of the application and training process, and upon funding authorization by the City of Austin.


All prospective candidates who have passed the initial Entrance Testing, Physical Ability Testing and Background History Application review will be scheduled for an Oral Board interview.

Day 2 of testing clothing attire should be formal interview clothing. Out of state and outside of Central Texas candidates (250 miles or more) will be scheduled for a formal Oral Board interview. Candidates from Central Texas may be interviewed on this date depending on how many candidates have passed Day 1 of the testing phase.

During the Oral Board, the applicant will be asked questions designed to demonstrate certain knowledge, skills, and abilities considered basic for the effective performance as a police officer.

The Oral Board will be graded on several topics: Knowledge of the Austin Police Department/City of Austin, Communication Skills, Appearance, Cultural Awareness, Integrity and Situational Reasoning. Applicants will be asked questions related to the reason they are seeking a police career, as well as skills and traits that they will contribute to the Austin Police Department. Integrity and Situational questions will be based on specific scenarios.

You will be told orally or in writing within 14 business days or earlier if you passed or failed the Oral Board interview and Background History Application review. The Background History Application review will include a complete review of your entire application packet, documents and exams.

*The actual Oral Board will last approximately 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

The second day of testing also involves the psychological testing phase, which consists of two different written tests. The first is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the second the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI). Once again you are expected to answer on a Scantron answer sheet; however, some answers will be filling in the blank.

Applicants will spend 3 to 4 hours taking a series of written questionnaires designed to measure a variety of personality and psychological factors related to police work. The results of these questionnaires will be reviewed and follow-up questions will be asked during the psychological interviews at a later date.


All applicants that pass the Oral Board interview and Background History Application review will proceed to the Background Investigation stage.

The prospective candidate will be required to appear before the assigned investigator for an interview (out of state candidates and out of Central Texas candidates will be interviewed on Day 2 of testing).

The assigned investigator will contact all references, co-workers, and any other person the investigator deems necessary. Should it become necessary, the prospective candidate will be expected to assist in getting his/her references to contact the investigator in a timely manner or to provide any information deemed necessary by the investigator.

*The Background Investigation Stage can take anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks to complete the investigation. Most of the delay will be caused from the lack of reference response. Applicants are asked to take part in their background investigation by ensuring that reference information is current and correct.


Once the prospective candidate passes the Background Investigation Stage, the candidate will be scheduled for a polygraph examination. The candidate will receive instructions on how to prepare for the polygraph examination.

A pre-polygraph questionnaire will be completed during initial testing.

The Polygraph examiner will develop your examination from the information you give on the pre-polygraph questionnaire and from the report of your background investigator. The polygraph examination will be done after completion of your background investigation.

*This is approximately a 2 hour process. The Polygraph and Psychological Stages usually occur on the same day. For out of state and outside of Central Texas candidates this will be the second trip you will have to make to Austin, Texas in order to complete the hiring process.

Out of state and outside of Central Texas candidates will also have their Medical/Physical Assessment and Drug Testing done during this same week. Those prospective candidates should plan on being in Austin, Texas for 2 to 3 days.


The psychological interview is usually scheduled directly after the Polygraph examination. The department Psychologist will conduct a one on one interview with the prospective candidate.

After the interview, the psychologist will score the previously taken psychological exams (MMPI & IPI). The psychologist will then review all the information deemed necessary and make the decision on whether or not the candidate meets the mental and emotional fitness to function successfully as a police cadet and upon graduation, as an Austin Police Officer.


Applicants who successfully complete all previous stages will be required to take a general fitness assessment and a medical examination conducted by Austin Police Wellness Staff. Wellness staff will assess each candidate’s physical and medical condition to ensure that he/she can function safely as a police cadet. If the applicant’s medical history or the physical findings by the department physician indicate the need for further clarification the applicant will be required to submit their medical records to the Austin Police Staff Physician.

The appointment must be made within 10 days of passing the Polygraph and Psychological Interviews. The actual physical and assessment need not be completed within the 10 days; the only requirement is that the assessment must be scheduled within the allotted 10 days. Please note that the Recruiting Unit will speak with you and make this appointment for you. Out of state or city applicants will have their appointment placed on a day they are here for the final stages.


At the completion of the physical assessment, the prospective candidate will be given directions to proceed directly to a medical facility to undergo a collection of bodily fluids and hair samples. The samples will be analyzed in an effort to detect the use of illegal drugs. Drug testing will be done at St. Davids Hospital in Austin. A map to St. Davids has been provided under the “Maps” section of the website. Drug testing results will be known in 7 business days.


Applicants will be placed on the eligibility pool for 2 years from the date they pass the entire hiring process.

Ranking on eligibility list will be from the date a completed Background History Application packet was turned into the Recruiting Unit. A completed Background History Application packet includes all required documents. This date will be used to determine your ranking on the eligibility list after you have passed all other steps in the hiring process. It is imperative that all applicants turn in completed Background History Application packets as soon as possible.

*The eligibility pool list will not be finalized until after all Medical and Drug Screening results have been submitted to the Austin Police Department.

APD Average Salary, Pay Scale And Pay Chart

The below listed salary figures are comparisons only for what a cadet, who successfully graduates to become a sworn Austin Police Officer could earn and are eligible to receive once they are deemed qualified to receive that yearly pay. Amounts will vary depending on what set of specialties or stipends each individual cadet is qualified to receive once they become sworn Austin Police Officers.

  • Cadet Starting Salary: $2,666.75 monthly salary for 8 months as a cadet. A cadet with full GI Bill benefits could earn up to an extra $1400 monthly during the academy. GI Bill benefits would also continue for an additional 3 to 4 months of Field Officer Training after graduation. Health, dental and retirement benefits start the first day of the academy for the employee. Spouse, family and dependents are also covered under the employee benefits starting the first day of the academy.
  • Probationary Officer Salary: $52,374, an officer assigned to a shift starting after 2pm, is a Bi-Lingual interpreter and has a Bachelors Degree would earn $60,714 per year ( $3,600 per year for shift differential, $2,100 for Bi-Lingual Interpreter and $2,640 for a Bachelors Degree). Amounts could vary for type of degree earned if any.
  • Police Officer 1 Year Anniversary Salary: $60,536, an officer with the same general description as the Probationary Officer but also receives one year of longevity pay for $100 would earn $68,976 per year.
  • Police Officer 2 Year Anniversary Salary: $68,819, an officer with the same general description as the 1 Year Officer but receives 2 years of longevity pay at $200 and becomes a Field Training Officer ($2,100 per year) and Crisis Intervention Officer($2,100 per year) would earn $81,559 per year.

The above figures do not include any departmental overtime received from late assignments, court appearances and voluntary assignments an officer may accrue during the year.

Listed below our current pay scales are the benefits received in addition to your base salary. If the officer possesses additional specialties from the list below, their base salary increases substantially per year.

View the complete pay scale (pdf)

Benefits and Pay Incentives

  • Field Training Officer $175 (monthly)
  • Crisis Intervention Officer $175(monthly)
  • Bi-Lingual Pay $175 (monthly)
  • Shift Differential Pay $300 (monthly)
  • Health Insurance
  • Long Term Disability Insurance
  • Vacation Leave 150 hours accrued yearly
  • Holidays (11)
  • Personal Holidays- 16 hours
  • Emergency Leave- 40 hours
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Court Overtime- Minimum 4 hours
  • On Call Compensation-8 hours per week
  • Call out from home Overtime- 3 hours minimum
  • Dental Plan/Eye Plan
  • Patrol Officers work 4 ten hour days with 3 days off
  • Life Insurance
  • Sick Leave 145.92 hours accrued yearly
  • 23 year retirement plan (3.2 multiplier)
  • Clothing allowance for select units $500
  • Uniforms and associated equipment provided (except for pistols)
  • Associates Degree or 60 or more college credits $100 (monthly)
  • Bachelors Degree $220 (monthly)
  • Masters Degree $300 (monthly)
  • Master Peace Officer Pay $150 (monthly)
  • 15 Military Days per year
  • Sick time buyback at retirement up to 1400 hours
  • Longevity Pay- $100 per year up to 25 years (yearly)
  • Deferred Compensation Plan
The Austin Police Retirement system pays a pension based on a minimum 23 years of service at any age for a full retirement. It is based on the following formula: Years of service (23) X multiplier (3.2%)= percentage of base salary (73.6%). Officers may stay additional years past 23 to accrue additional retirement funds with no limit. Military personnel are eligible to purchase an additional 2 years into the retirement system added on after 23 years of service with the Austin Police Department. Compared to most policedepartments in Texas and the United States our retirement system ranks as one of the best. Most police agencies offer a 20 year retirement at 50% of their pay.