Qualified officers can apply to specialized positions like motorcycle officer, equestrian officer, or flight officer. Some officers become investigators and investigate vehicle theft and fraud activities. Other specialized units within the California Highway Patrol focus on such areas as cargo theft, drug recognition, organized crime, and counterterrorism.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers are tasked with providing “Safety, Service, and Security” across California’s state highways and roadways. The California Highway Patrol is particularly focused on reducing collision and fatality rates in the state. This overview covers how a candidate may qualify to become a California Highway Patrol officer, in addition to requirements, job outlook, and salary information.
Steps to Becoming a California Highway Patrol Officer
- Complete a CHP employment application.
- Pass the physical abilities test.
- Take the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) written exam.
- Pass the CHP background investigation.
- Complete psychological and medical evaluations.
- Complete 27 weeks of training at the California Highway Patrol Academy.
- Complete 12 months working as a probationary officer.
- Begin working as a fully-fledged California Highway Patrol Officer.
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How to Become a California Highway Patrol Officer
Applicants to join the CHP must be between the ages of 20 and 35 years old and be able to pass a standard eyesight test with 20/20 vision (or 20/40 vision corrected to 20/20 with eyeglasses or contact lenses). They must also be a US citizen (or in the citizenship application process) with no felony convictions and possess a California driver’s license. The minimum education standard is a high school diploma or GED.
Candidates must first apply to the department. Qualified applicants will be invited to begin testing; each stage of testing must be completed before moving on to the next step. First, applicants will take a physical abilities test, followed by the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) written exam. Applicants must then pass a background check before completing psychological and medical evaluations. While it is not required, it is strongly recommended that candidates join their regional CHP applicant preparation program for assistance in preparing for the physical and written exams, as well as the overall recruiting process. Successful recruits will go on to complete training at the California Highway Patrol Academy.
California Highway Patrol Job Description
CHP officers are responsible for patrolling the highways of California to prevent accidents and enforce traffic laws. California Highway Patrol officers may specialize in certain aspects of traffic safety, such as commercial vehicle inspections or motor carrier inspections. CHP officers are also responsible for investigating crimes that occur on state property. Aside from working in patrol and security, officers may transfer to related specialized units, such as motor crime investigation, airborne patrol, dignitary protection, or canine handling.
California Highway Patrol Training, Prerequisites, and Education Requirements
Applicants for officer positions with the CHP must meet the minimum requirements outlined above. Although the education requirement is at least a high school diploma or GED, those who have a degree or previous military service are preferred. Applicants must undergo a battery of tests that includes written, physical, psychological, and medical exams.
Once accepted as a recruit, future troopers attend 27 weeks of training at the California Highway Patrol Training Academy. This program teaches cadets the skills and knowledge required to become an effective California Highway Patrol officer. Like the CHP itself, the training academy is a paramilitary environment that is both physically and mentally challenging. Following academy graduation, officers are considered to be on probationary status for 12 months.
California Highway Patrol Salary and Job Outlook
Once a recruit becomes a CHP cadet, they earn a salary of $4,274 to $5,361 per month while in training.1 After graduation, recruits are promoted to the position of CHP officer with an annual base salary of $74,700.1 The base salary is increased by 5% annually until an officer reaches the top base salary level (currently $92,640 a year).1 On top of the base salary, there are salary incentives for pre- and post-shift work, physical performance pay, bilingual pay, and a range of other premiums for specialized skills, education achievements, and experience. All officers are also eligible for a competitive retirement plan, which pays up to 90% of the average of the officer’s three highest years of salary based on length of service and age at retirement.1
California Highway Patrol
1382 West Olive Avenue
Fresno, CA 93728
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of jobs are available within the California Highway Patrol?
What are some other benefits California Highway Patrol officers receive?
State troopers with the California Highway Patrol receive competitive pay, medical benefits, and retirement benefits. The CHP also offers an annual leave program that provides officers with 24 hours of earned leave time per month from the first to the third years of service, which is increased to 27 leave hours per month earned from the third to the tenth years of service.1 After 20 years of service, officers can earn up to 31 hours of leave time per month.1
What is the CHP Training Academy like?
The California Highway Patrol Training Academy is academically and physically rigorous. It can also be challenging as recruits are separated from their families for extended periods during training. While at the academy, recruits complete daily physical conditioning and are expected to become versed in California and federal laws, criminal and investigative procedures, and related topics like emergency medical response.
1. California Highway Patrol Salary and Benefits: https://www.chp.ca.gov/chp-careers/officer/salary-and-benefits-officer
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