How to Become a Police Officer in California

In the state of California jobs are competitive, there are fewer job openings and a larger concentration of people applying for those jobs. Therefore, even though a candidate in California could enroll themselves in an academy for training, it would be unwise to do so. The candidates in the academy who have already been selected by a police department are guaranteed jobs whereas those in the academy on their own, do not. This is why it would likely be the wisest decision to apply directly to a police department and have them send you to the academy for training.

The steps laid out on the homepage of this sight explain the typical extensive application process that most states require for becoming a police officer. California follows these in the process of hiring a candidate for a specific position. It is suggested to find a posted position on one of the following sites: and: as well as: . These sights can help notify you when a position has been posted in the area in which you are searching. Once a candidate makes it through the lengthy application process he or she can be sent to academy training, paid for by the department that will also employ them once graduated.

How to Become a Police Officer in California

Like many states in America, California requires applicants wishing to become police officers to be US citizens, have a valid California driver’s license, and not have any felony or misdemeanor charges. Unlike some other states, California has a minimum age of 18 years old to be able to apply to become a police officer. Applicants must have graduated high school and achieved their diploma or have achieved their GED. Once these criteria are met, an applicant must find positions which are currently open. Job open houses at local police departments may be one way to go about finding a job. Another way to find job openings in California is to go through Law Enforcement Looking up the state you are interested in will give you the opportunity to check specific openings in specific cities.

The application process for a cop position is very lengthy. There are many tests (Reading, writing, physical and psychological) which an applicant must pass before they will be considered by the department for further training. Once selected, candidates would then be sent to the academy for basic police training. After the academy an officer in training will be given field training for a period of time under the supervision of a field training officer.

One distinction of the California process is that the Oral Interview is a weighty part of the application process. You can read about the Oral Interview on the homepage of this sight. It is important that you are well-dressed and mentally prepared for this portion of the application process. Be early to your interview, and make sure you are incredibly respectful to all officers. Listen to each question carefully prior to answering, and then speak slowly and clearly in a response to each question.

Police Officer Salary

The average police officer salary in California is higher than the national average. Keep in mind, however, that cost of living in California is much higher than cost of living in most of the rest of the country. The average salary of a police officer in California is approximately 79,000 a year for beginning patrol officers. Detectives and criminal investigators make an average of over 92,000 a year.

One way of starting off at a higher salary as a police officer in California is to have a degree prior to achieving employment. There are hundreds of schools in California that offer programs and degrees in Criminal Justice or Criminal Law. These related degrees to law enforcement may give you a leg up on the applicant competition, and also if you achieve a position while holding a degree in related field the police department will start you at a higher pay.

Law Enforcement Schools in California

As stated above, it is probably best to wait to enroll in an academy training program after you have gone through the application process and have been hired by a particular police department. However, it may be wise to go to school for an associates or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or criminal law prior to applying to police department. Having a degree may give you a leg up on the applicant competition and would also allow you to start working at a higher pay scale than those who do not have a degree.

Here are some schools with top rated criminal justice degree programs located in California (or even online):

  • University of California–Berkeley

200 California Hall, #1500, Berkeley, CA 94720


  • University of California–Los Angeles

675 Charles E Young Drive S., Los Angeles, CA 90095


  • University of California–San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093


  • University of California–Davis

1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616


  • University of California–Santa Barbara

5221 Cheadle Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106