Chicago Police Department Officer Requirements
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) serves and protects over 2.7 million residents who live within the city limits of Chicago.1 The department has followed a community policing model since 1993, and its core values are described by the acronym POLICE: Professionalism, Obligation, Leadership, Integrity, Courage, Excellence. The CPD regularly recruits well-qualified men and women from diverse backgrounds to uphold its mission and reduce crime in one of the largest cities in the US.
Steps to Becoming a CPD Officer
- Meet the minimum qualifications for prospective officers (see below).
- Apply for and take the department’s written exam.
- Pass the physical exam.
- Complete a formal application.
- Pass the medical exam.
- Pass the background check and drug test.
- Complete police academy training.
- Complete 13 months of field training as a probationary officer.
- Begin working independently as a fully-sworn Chicago police officer.
How to Become a Chicago, Illinois Police Officer
There are several steps to become a police officer with the Chicago Police Department. The first step is to earn at least 60 college credits from an accredited school and meet the hiring requirements outlined below. Next, candidates must take the department’s written exam to be placed on the eligibility list. Candidates who are at least 18 years of age may take the exam to qualify for the hiring process and be placed on the CPD eligibility list, but cannot be hired until they reach the age of 21. Applicants can remain on the eligibility list for up to five years.
Once contacted by the department, those selected for the next stages will undergo medical and physical testing, a background investigation, and police academy training to prepare for police work. The CPD only accepts applications for the written exam during open application periods, which are posted on the Chicago PD’s website.
Chicago Police Officer Job Description
Chicago police officers protect people and property in the city of Chicago. They do this by enforcing laws, including traffic codes, and helping in emergencies. Following graduation from the police academy and a 13-month probationary period, Chicago police officers can apply to work for specialty units. Some specialties require competitive testing, while others are based on seniority. Specialty units include the detective unit, bomb squad, mounted unit, and marine and helicopter unit. The Chicago PD also maintains units dedicated to preventing and investigating hate crimes and gang-related activity.
Chicago Police Officer Training, Prerequisites, and Education Requirements
To become a Chicago police officer, applicants must have one of the following: 60 semester hours of college credit; three years of continuous active duty with the United States Armed Forces; or one year of continuous active duty with the United States Armed Forces combined with 30 semester hours of college credit. Candidates must also be US citizens between 21 and 40 years of age and have Chicago residency at the time of hire.
Although the 60 semester hours of college credit that are required to qualify for the CPD can be in any subject, earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field can increase an applicant’s chances of being hired as well as provide additional opportunities for career advancement. The hiring pool for CPD officer positions is extremely competitive; in 2015, over 14,000 prospective officers applied during the open application period.2
Those who pass the screening process are conditionally hired as police recruits and attend the CPD Recruit Academy. In the academy, recruits will study topics such as criminal law, firearms training, emergency vehicle operation, traffic law, report writing, crime investigation, and defensive tactics. The thorough training program consists of approximately 1,000 hours of instruction. Upon graduation from the police academy, recruits complete an additional 13 months of field training while under supervision as probationary officers.
Chicago Police Officer Salary and Job Outlook
Probationary Chicago police officers start at a salary around $47,000, depending on education and experience.2 This is increased to $72,510 after 18 months of service.2 All officers receive competitive health and life insurance benefits as well as paid time off for vacations and holidays. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, sworn officers in the Chicago metropolitan area earned an annual average salary of $73,590 as of 2015.3 With Chicago being such a large and diverse city, there are many niches and career opportunities within the CPD to help officers build rewarding careers.
Chicago Police Department
3510 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60653
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How many police officers are there in Chicago?
Answer: As of 2011, 12,244 sworn officers worked for the Chicago Police Department.5
Question: Where can I find the application to become a police officer with the Chicago PD?
Answer: Before applying to become an officer with the Chicago PD, candidates must apply to take the written exam. The application for the written exam is posted online only during open hiring periods. Check the CPD website for more information and for the application, when available.
Question: What is the typical Chicago police officer salary?
Answer: New CPD recruits start at a salary of approximately $47,000 per year.2 After graduating from the police academy and completing 13 months as a probationary officer, the entry-level Chicago police officer salary is $72,510.3 Officers can earn more based on overtime and other pay incentives, and also receive periodic step increases tied to their time in service.
1. US Census Bureau, Chicago: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/map/chicagocityillinois/IPE120216
2. City of Chicago: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2016/february/chicago-police-departments-recruitment-campaign-results-in-71–i.html
3. Chicago Police Department: https://home.chicagopolice.org/recruiting-materials-and-information/
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Chicago: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_16980.htm
5. Chicago Police Department Annual Report, 2010: https://home.chicagopolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2010-Annual-Report.pdf