I often get asked what are the basic requirements to become a police officer. I took the time to make a chart listing and comparing the the basic qualification to become a police officer in the three largest departments. The requirements to become a cop are very basic, however, just meeting them does not guarantee employment.  I’m not a recruiter or a spokesperson for any of these departments. The departments listed are the Los Angeles Police Department, New York Police Department, and the Chicago Police Department. I’ve also included some links below.

AGE 21 years old by the time of LAPD academy graduation 21-35 years old at time of hire. 21-40 years old at time of hire.
EDUCATION Minimum of a high shool diploma or GED or a California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) certificate. (The only way to go around the education requirement is to have a college degree from a 2 or 4 year institution.) High school diploma or its equivalent. Successfully complete 60 college credits from an accredited university OR successfully complete 2 years of ACTIVE military service. 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) from an accredited university at time of hire.
CITIZENSHIP U.S. permanent resident eligible and applied for citizenship. U.S. citizen within 3 years of being hired. Must be a U.S. citizen at time of appointment. U.S. permanent resident (citizenship NOT required).
RESIDENCY NEVER required to be a resident of Los Angeles. MUST be a resident of one of the 5 boroughs of New York City and the surrounding counties, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, or Orange. MUST be a resident of the city of Chicago after being hired.
BACKGROUND Extensive background check will be conducted. Must not have a history of unethical or immoral behavior. Extensive background check will be conducted. Must not have a history of disposition to violence, criminal behavior, or lack good moral character. Extensive background check will be conducted. Thorough check of character and activities.

As you can see, the basic requirements are almost the same across all three. Chicago’s is the most different. CPD has stricter educational requirements but it doesn’t require U.S. citizenship. Los Angeles is the most flexible with regards to residency which means you can live anywhere in the world and still be a cop in Los Angeles; just make it to work on time. In Chicago, you have no choice, according to their standards, you have to be a true neighborhood cop and live in the city you serve. For more information on these three, I’ve hooked you up with some good links:

Los Angeles Police Department

New York Police Department

Chicago Police Department

Ultimately its up to you do your own research. Showing up is 90% of the battle.  If you want to become a police officer, I recommend you check out that department’s website first.  Often times, smaller departments don’t have their own site and you have to look at the city, county, state, or federal website.  Once you have done your research, go take the first test and show the hiring team how freaking awesome you are. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

It seems to me the biggest setbacks for police applicants are the background checks and fitness. Check out this link on information about background checks with Los Angeles:   City of Los Angeles Public Safety Background Standards.

No matter which department you are applying for, they will have similar background requirements.

With regards to fitness, the number one factor that will improve your performance drastically, is not eating junk food. If this is already not a problem for you, you are ahead of the curve. Before you go spending all your time and money on gym subscriptions, supplements, and crazy diets, not eating junk food will make the biggest impact on your fitness.

Check this article on how I stopped eating junk food.

When you stop eating junk food you will not only lose weight, you will also have more energy. Imagine how much faster you would run if you weighed 20 lbs less. To do this, think how much slower you would run if you had a 20 lb. barbell on your back. Now, imagine how much faster you would run if you weighed 20 lbs. less and had more energy? Keep in mind, we haven’t even started discussing actual training or nutrition.

Check this article on fitness.


I will be posting more articles to in the next few days. I’m curious to find out what problems you guys think will hinder you from becoming a police officer, or what you would like more advice on. Let me know by commenting below.Like my site and don’t want to miss the next post? Hit the link below: