Houston Police Department Officer Requirements
The men and women of the Houston Police Department (HPD) work to promote quality of life in the Houston metropolitan area by enforcing laws and working with the public to prevent, report, and prosecute crime. The various units and task forces within the HPD are organized into three major divisions: Strategic Operations, Investigative Operations, and Field Operations. In recent years the HPD has broadened its focus on community-based policing and has also embraced the use of body-worn cameras for patrol officers.
Steps to Becoming an HPD Officer
- Meet the minimum qualifications for police recruits (see below).
- Complete an application, which must be submitted with all required supporting documents.
- Attend an initial screening interview.
- Pass a reading comprehension test.
- Pass a physical agility test.
- Complete a polygraph exam and final personal interview.
- Undergo a thorough background investigation.
- Complete psychological and medical exams.
- Accept a contingent employment offer and complete recruit training at the Houston Police Department Training Academy.
- Begin working as patrol officer.
How to Become a Houston, Texas Police Officer
The Houston Police Department has adopted a rigorous hiring process to ensure that only the best-qualified applicants become sworn officers. In addition to the minimum requirements outlined below, candidates for employment with the HPD must have either 48 semester hours of college credit from an accredited college with a minimum GPA of 2.0; at least 18 months of active duty service with the United States Armed Forces with an honorable discharge; or at least five years of full-time employment as a peace officer with a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) licensed entity in another jurisdiction.
Those who meet the requirements will be scheduled for a reading comprehension test and an initial interview with a recruiting investigator. Next, the Houston Police Department requires applicants to pass a fitness exam, which consists of a 1.5-mile run, a 300-meter sprint, a vertical jump, push-ups, an agility run, and a weapons trigger pull test. Candidates who pass the first steps will then complete a background check, medical and psychological screening, and a second personal interview. Candidates who successfully pass all stages may be offered conditional employment and invited to complete officer recruit training at the police academy.
Houston Police Officer Job Description
Houston police officers are generally assigned to patrol after graduating from the police academy. They may perform patrol duties on foot, by bike, or in a patrol vehicle. These duties include enforcing applicable laws, investigating suspicious activity, and forming relationships with community members. Houston police officers must always be ready to respond to calls for assistance and to investigate crimes. Traffic control and traffic law enforcement are also basic duties for patrol officers. After performing satisfactorily in a patrol assignment, a Houston police officer may become eligible for promotion or transfer to special duties with such divisions as Auto Theft, Crime Lab, Special Operations, or Vice.
Houston Police Officer Training, Prerequisites, and Educational Requirements
To qualify for a police officer position with the Houston Police Department, candidates must be US citizens between 21 and 44 years of age, meet weight and height requirements, have a clean criminal history, possess a valid driver's license, and successfully complete the HPD hiring process. Candidates must also have at least 48 semester hours of college credit with a minimum GPA of 2.0, though the education requirement may be waived with previous military or law enforcement experience. The HPD also looks at candidates' employment and credit histories; accounts in collections may be grounds for disqualification from employment. Conviction of a Class A felony or misdemeanor at any time or of a Class B misdemeanor within ten years of the application date are automatic disqualifiers. Any tattoos or body art must be fully covered by the official uniform.
Eligible applicants who complete the hiring process move on to the Houston Police Department Training Academy, which is a six-month program that includes academic learning as well as physical training. Though the program is Monday through Friday, cadets are prohibited from working or attending non-academy classes during the six-month training schedule. After graduation, recruits complete a six-month probation period, the first 12 to 16 weeks of which are completed while partnered with a Field Training Officer.
Houston Police Officer Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for police officers in Houston is $61,030.1 The base salary for a cadet with the Houston Police Department is $42,000 per year, which rises to $53,369 per year upon promotion to the position of police officer.2 Salaries can be higher for officers who hold a college degree and qualify for education incentives. Officers receive annual step increases based on longevity and may also qualify for higher salary tiers by achieving promotion to the position of senior police officer or to supervisory ranks. All officers are eligible for paid time off, health insurance benefits, and retirement plans. About 15,800 police officers worked in the Houston area as of 2015.1
Houston Police Department
17000 Aldine Westfield Rd
Houston, TX 77073
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What education is needed to become a police officer in Houston?
Answer: Candidates for police officer positions with the Houston Police Department who do not have prior military or law enforcement experience must have at least 48 semester hours of college credit with a GPA of 2.0 or above. Candidates who achieve more than the minimum education have opportunities for higher earnings, as the department offers pay differentials based on educational attainment. For example, an officer with an associate's degree typically makes $53,317 after the first year of patrol, whereas an officer with a bachelor's degree in the same position may expect to make $56,957.2
Question: What are the requirements to become a police officer?
Answer: In Houston, prospective police officers must be at least 21 years of age and have US citizenship, a valid driver's license, a high school diploma or GED, and at least 48 semester hours of college credit. As with any police department, candidates must also have a clean criminal record as well as stable employment and credit histories.
Question: How long does it take to become a police officer in Houston?
Answer: The application process to become a police officer can be lengthy. Candidates can expect the initial application process to take 90 days, after which they will be assigned to six months of police academy training, followed by six months of probationary status while working patrol duties under supervision.
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_26420.htm
2. Houston Police Department: http://www.hpdcareer.com/benefits.html