How Do I Become a Peace Officer?
The following questions and answers pertain specifically to becoming a California peace officer.
1. What should be considered in my decision to apply for a California peace officer position?
Individuals applying for a peace officer position in California are required to meet several statewide minimum standards for employment. These standards include:
- No felony convictions
- A fingerprint and criminal history check
- Meeting the citizenship requirement (Included are provisions for permanent resident aliens. See citizenship requirements FAQs. )
- A background investigation indicating the individual is of good moral character
- Minimum age of 18 years
- Minimum education of United States high school graduation or passage of GED or other approved equivalency test
- A medical and psychological suitability evaluation
- An employment interview
- A reading and writing ability test
2. The department's job flyer has higher and/or additional selection requirements over those stated above. Why aren't they the same?
Local law enforcement departments may set higher standards than the statewide minimum standards. Where there are no statewide minimum standards, the local hiring authority may set a standard (e.g. vision and hearing standards) and/or additional selection requirements, such as a physical ability test. This is why some standards vary from department to department.
3. Is the Regular Basic Course the minimum training requirement for all peace officers employed by agencies in the POST program?
For all city police officers, county sheriff deputies, and most other peace officer categories, the Regular Basic Course is the minimum entry-level training requirement. Exceptions to this would be peace officers employed by certain specialized law enforcement agencies, coroner peace officers, Reserve Level II or Level III officers, and limited function officers. To determine the minimum training requirement for the categories listed as exceptions, please contact the hiring agency or view the online Commission Regulations. Regulation 1005 specifies the minimum training standard for full-time peace officers and Regulation 1007 specifies the minimum training standard for each level of Reserve peace officer.
4. Which basic academy does POST recommend?
POST does not make this recommendation. All presenters of a POST-certified Regular Basic Course must include the minimum training specifications adopted and incorporated into POST regulation. However, if an individual knows where he/she would like to work it may be beneficial to check with the hiring department to determine if the department requires completion of their own academy.
5. Is an individual required to complete a Basic Academy prior to applying for a peace officer position?
This varies with every agency. Some agencies will only hire individuals after they have graduated from a Basic Academy (regular basic course), while others will hire individuals and send them through an academy as trainees or cadets. Some agencies require that an individual attend the agency's Basic Academy regardless of previous completion of another Basic Academy.
6. I have completed a basic course in another state, can I transfer my training to California?
California POST does not have reciprocity with other states, nor do we have a challenge process. California POST has a Basic Course Waiver (BCW) process for individuals who want to become California peace officers and have completed at least 664 hours of general law enforcement training (including a general law enforcement basic course of at least 200 hours), and have at least one year of successful sworn general law enforcement experience. The BCW is a 4-step process that includes: self-assessment/application; POST evaluation; written and skills testing; and issuance of a waiver letter. Once the BCW process is successfully completed, the applicant receives a waiver of the California Regular Basic Course; however, acceptance of the waiver is at the discretion of the employing agency.
7. Can anyone enroll in a POST-certified Basic Academy?
Yes, however, not everyone is accepted. Every individual applying to a Basic Academy must complete a criminal history clearance. If the criminal history reveals a felony conviction, you will not be allowed to enroll in the course. Many academies administer a reading and writing test to determine the likelihood of succeeding in the training, however, it does not preclude enrollment.
8. How do I enroll for Basic training?
A list of training institutions approved to present the POST-certified Regular Basic Course is provided on the Basic Training Academies page, and also in the POST Course Catalog. You may select the institution(s) of interest and contact the training presenter to obtain information on costs and enrollment. To accommodate different working schedules, the Regular Basic Course is presented in several formats. The Intensive Format is usually a Monday-Friday schedule and during normal working hours. The Extended Format is usually evenings and weekends. The course is also presented in a modular format. Completion of Reserve Level III, II, and I modules (in that order) is the equivalent of completing the Regular Basic Course.
9. Where can I find out about job opportunities?
Current law enforcement job opportunities are available online, free of charge. A complete list of POST participating agencies is also available. The California Law Enforcement Employment Statistics (pdf) contains current employment information on full-time sworn, reserve peace officers and public safety dispatchers throughout California.
10. Some job flyers state that a basic certificate is required. What does this mean?
Individuals successfully completing a POST-certified Basic Course will receive a certificate of completion at the end of training, issued by the training institution. This is not to be confused with the POST Basic Certificate which is a professional certificate awarded by POST, to individuals who have completed a Basic Course and who have served as a full-time peace officer and minimally completed 12 months of probation.
Some agencies require that an individual already possess the POST Basic Certificate in order to apply for a position. This would mean that the agency is looking for someone who has been previously employed and completed probation with another agency. Some agencies do not require the POST Basic Certificate, but instead are requiring a certificate of completion for the Basic Course training. If the job flyer is not clear, an applicant should get clarification on this point.
11. How long must I serve on probation once I am employed?
Probation periods range from 12-24 months. Although a few agencies have reported a 6-month probationary period, Commission regulations require that every full-time peace officer serve in a probationary status for not less than 12 months from the date of appointment to a full-time peace officer position. Agencies that report longer than a 12-month probationary period must require their officers to complete the longer probationary period before applying for a POST Basic Certificate.
12. How do I obtain a POST Basic Certificate?
Individuals may apply for the POST Basic certificate if: 1) the criteria for the certificate is met, and 2) the individual is employed by an agency participating in the POST program at the time of application. Individuals who believe they meet the Basic Certificate criteria, i.e., successful completion of a probationary period and completion of a POST-certified Basic Course (or Basic Course Waiver), should request assistance and application forms from their agency.
13. I completed my Basic Course more than 3 years ago and have not obtained peace officer employment, is my training expired?
You will need to successfully complete the 136-hour minimum POST Requalification Course to requalify your training. Six-Year Exception: If you completed a Basic Course after July 1, 1999, you may complete the requalification course one time only. If you do not become employed in a position that requires the Basic Course within six years of your academy completion, you will need to repeat the entire Basic Course.
14. I have additional questions, does POST have an email address?
Yes, you may direct questions to WebRequest@post.ca.gov