How to Become a Police Officer in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Police Department is one of the largest and ethnically diverse departments in the state of California with around 9,000 sworn officers and about 3,000 civilian employees. Opportunities abound inside the LAPD with over 250 different jobs available with all prospective cops starting out in patrol and eventually moving out to other specialized assignments such as SWAT, motorcycle officers, helicopter pilots, K-9 units, horseback riding officer, bike officers.

Sworn in officers not only get a above average salary they also enjoy great benefits offered by the LAPD.

A quick overview of the benefits:

  • Compressed work schedule.
  • Health and dental benefits.
  • Pension plan.
  • Deferred compensation.
  • Sick leave and disability benefits.
  • 15 days of paid vacation annually after one year of service.
  • 23 days of paid vacation annually after ten years of service.

Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Los Angeles

Before submitting that application form, make sure that you meet the strict qualifications of the Los Angeles Police Department that include the following:

  • Candidates have to be at least 21 years old at the date of entry into the academy or 20 and a half on the date of the written test.
  • Must at least have either of the following – a high school diploma, a GED certification or a CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Examination) certificate.
  • Should be a valid and legal US citizen or have a permanent resident status and eligible and already applied to become an American citizen.
  • Applicants don’t have to be a resident of Los Angeles to become eligible as an LAPD officer.

How to Become a Police Officer in Los Angeles

The application process to become a cop in Los Angeles…

Step 1

All applicants will be required to go through the Preliminary Background Application (PBA) and answer the Job Interview Questionnaire (JIQ), both of these are available through the LAPD website (

The PBA will provide you with information on the possible roadblocks you’ll have to address before you go through the application process. The JRQ will help you get a better understanding of what police work is like. Print the results of both of these forms and take them to the test center.

Step 2

Take the Personal Qualifications Essay which will evaluate your written communication skills, decision making abilities and flexibility through a series of essay type questions. Applicants who fail in this test will have to wait another six months before being permitted to take another PQE exam.

Step 3

Qualified applicants will then go through an extensive background investigation and polygraph test. Investigators will check all the candidate’s records which includes criminal, financial, military, education and employment records as well as interview their family, friends, previous co-workers, bosses and other people which the candidate may have be associated with in the past. Polygraph test will verify whether the information entered in the application is true or not.

Step 4

Pass the Physical Abilities Test (PAT) that has two parts.

First part will check the individual’s agility, strength and endurance which includes the following exercises.

  • Do as many side steps as possible four feet to the right and the left of the center-line in 10 seconds.
  • Perform a cable pull in a horizontal motion as hard as you can for 3 seconds.
  • Riding a stationary bicycle for two minutes against a pre-set resistance. 

Second part of the PAT measures the aerobic capacity.

  • Complete a 1.5 mile run on the treadmill in 14 minutes or less.

Remember that passing the PAT means that the applicant only passed the bare minimum physical ability that is required to get into the academy.

Step 5

Cadets who pass the PAT will then be interviewed by a panel to assess the your previous accomplishments, motivation in joining the LAPD, verbal communication and interpersonal skills and instrumentality. Applicants who are successful will undergo further tests, those who fail will have to wait for 3 months before being eligible to take another department interview.

Step 6

Individuals will then go through both a medical and psychological evaluation to ensure that they are capable both physically and mentally to do police work.

Step 7

Once the applicant passes both the physical and psychological evaluation, they will be certified and appointed and be eligible to join the LAPD academy. It is important to note that completing the previous steps will not guarantee entry into the academy as the number of applicants can outnumber the vacancies and the department will only select the best qualified.

LAPD Academy Training Curriculum Consists of the Following:

Academy training will last for six months of intensive training. Take note that training in the academy is free and officers will be paid their full salary during their stay here.

  • Driving
  • Academics
  • Firearms Training
  • Human Relations
  • Physical Training
  • Law
  • LAPD Specific Training
  • Tactics

LAPD also offers a few programs like the CAP, Women’s CAP, Oral Prep, and Talk to a Mentor to assist high school and college students, former military servicemen and women, a parent of an applicant, or an educator who have aspirations to become a cop in Los Angeles.

For more information on becoming a cop in LA you can visit their website or call 866-444-LAPD.

Click here to check out the various police officer jobs in Los Angeles.

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