San Diego Police Department Officer Requirements
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) serves the second-largest city in California, with over 1 million residents living within San Diego city limits.1 The SDPD bases its policing strategies on community involvement and holds its officers to the highest standards of accountability and ethics.
Steps to Becoming a SDPD Officer
- Meet the minimum qualifications for prospective officers (see below).
- Complete an application.
- Pass the physical abilities test.
- Submit a pre-investigative questionnaire.
- Pass the background investigation and polygraph exam.
- Appear for an in-person interview.
- Pass a psychological evaluation.
- Pass the medical evaluation.
- Complete police academy training.
- Complete 12 weeks of field training.
- Begin working as a San Diego police officer.
How to Become a San Diego, California Police Officer
For candidates who meet the minimum eligibility guidelines discussed below, the first step to becoming a San Diego police officer is to take a written test that measures reading and writing skills as well as cognitive abilities. Next, candidates must pass a physical exam, which is based on the actual physical demands officers experience on the job. After passing the physical exam, a background check and polygraph are completed. Prospective recruits will then appear for a hiring interview. The final two steps are a psychological and medical evaluation. To start the process, candidates should go to the San Diego Police Department’s website.
San Diego Police Officer Job Description
All newly graduated San Diego police officers start on patrol units, where they are responsible for patrolling their assigned area within the 331 square miles encompassed in the San Diego city limits.1 Officers maintain order by enforcing laws and ordinances, forming relationships within the community, and investigating crimes. There are several divisions within the police department that support this mission, such as Investigations, SWAT, K-9, School Patrol, and Traffic Patrol.
San Diego Police Officer Training, Prerequisites, and Education Requirements
Prospective San Diego police recruits must be US citizens or permanent residents, be at least 21 years of age by graduation from the police academy, have a valid California driver’s license, and have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, recruits must be able to type at least 30 words per minute. All applicants must pass the department’s thorough screening process.
Once accepted into the police academy, recruits will complete a 25-week training course that develops academic, physical, and policing skills. Training takes place at the San Diego Regional Enforcement Training Center on the Miramar College campus. Recruits study a wide range of topics including criminal law, patrol theories, laws of arrest, defense tactics, firearms training, search and seizure, and rules of evidence. Graduates of the academy are promoted to the rank of Police Officer I and complete an additional 12 weeks of field training under the supervision of a Field Training Officer.
San Diego Police Officer Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers in the San Diego area earn an average annual salary of $78,420.2 Police recruits are paid an annual salary of $48,000 during academy training; upon promotion to the rank of Police Officer I, officers earn a base salary of $54,000 a year.1 Officers can receive pay increases based on longevity thereafter, up to a maximum of $76,000 per year, and can also earn higher salaries based on further promotions in rank.1 Benefits available to all San Diego police officers include a four-day work week, paid holidays and vacations, and pay incentives based on shift differentials, educational attainment, special assignments, and overtime. About 5,880 police officers worked in the San Diego metro as of 2015.2
San Diego, CA 92101
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do I apply for a police officer position with the San Diego Police Department?
Answer: Applications for police recruits are available through the San Diego Personnel Department’s website.
Question: How long does it take to become a San Diego police officer?
Answer: The hiring process for SDPD police recruits typically takes between three and four months. Accepted recruits must then complete 25 weeks, or approximately six months, of police academy training at the San Diego Regional Enforcement Training Center.
Question: How much do San Diego police officers make?
Answer: The starting salary for San Diego police recruits is $3,863 a month.1 Officers typically reach the top step in the department’s salary tier for patrol officers after four years, at which time officers can expect to earn $6,077 per month.1
1. San Diego Police Department: https://www.sandiego.gov/police/
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, San Diego-Carlsbad: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41740.htm