How to Become a Police Officer in Austin

In 2014, Austin, Texas was ranked number one in Forbes’ list of America’s 20 fastest growing cities.1 With fewer than a million people (about 885,000), Austin is the fourth most populous city in Texas, and the 11th most populous city in the United States. It is also the capital city of Texas. Austin claims to be the “live music capital of the world.”2

For those wishing to become part of the law enforcement team in Austin, the application, selection, and training process is detailed below.

Austin Police Officer Requirements

Becoming a cop in Austin requires that candidates are US citizens and hold a valid driver’s license. They must also be between the ages of 20.5 and 45. Official high school transcripts, a high school diploma, or GED is required to become part of the law enforcement team in Austin. Additionally, applicants must not have certain health issues (e.g., complex seizure disorder, uncontrolled high blood pressure or significant heart disease). Not only must applicants’ vision or corrected be at least 20/20, but they also must have normal color and night vision and hearing. Successful applicants will also not have any convictions of a felony, driver’s license suspension, or an unstable credit history. Every candidate will need to pass a medical, polygraph, psychological, and drug test.

The first step for joining the law enforcement team in Austin is to complete an application, which can be found online, but must be printed and mailed to the Austin Police Department recruiting unit. Prospective cadets will then complete a physical ability test, including a timed 1.5-mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, and a vertical leap. They will also have to complete a reading comprehension test, passing with a score better than or equal to the level of a first-year college student. Candidates will also submit a writing sample and a take written psychological test. Once the reading comprehension test, writing sample, and physical tests are passed, applicants will be given a conditional employment offer, contingent on the remaining pieces of the application process. Next, prospective cadets will have an oral board interview, which will last about 1.5 to 2 hours. Finally, applicants will have to pass a background test, a polygraph exam, a psychological interview, a medical exam, and a drug test. At that point, successful applicants will be placed in a 2-year eligibility pool for the APD.

For more information about how to become a cop in a typical big city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. If you are ready to apply now, find specific application information at theAustin Police Department – Application page.

Chief Art Acevedo has been with the Austin Police Department since 2007. Before that, he served on the California Highway Patrol and as a field officer in East Los Angeles. Acevedo was educated at the University of La Verne in California, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in Public Administration.

Austin Police Department Information

The APD is comprised of around 2,500 sworn law enforcement and support personnel, and has a general fund budget of 369 million dollars.3 The APD is broken up into ten patrol divisions.

Austin Police Training Academy

The Austin Police Training Academy is 32 weeks long, including 1,280 hours of instruction.3 Throughout the academy, cadets are continually assessed on their physical ability, with tests performed twice a week. Cadets are paid for their time at the training academy, and are expected to report from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. The academy graduating in December 2014 included around 40 officers, but previous class sizes have ranged from 25 to over 100 cadets.3 Upon graduating from the academy, officers will enter the field training program for 3-4 months to complete their training.

Austin Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

The starting salary for Austin cadets is $3,334 per month for their first eight months of training at the academy. Cadets with full GI Bill benefits could earn an extra $1564 each month.3 Probationary officers in Austin start with an annual salary of $56,397 per year. Police officers who are bilingual interpreters, work after 2:00 pm (shift differential), and have a bachelor’s degree could earn $64,737 per year.3 After one year of service, the salaries increase from $63,287 to $71,627 (with bilingual capabilities, shift differential, and a bachelor’s degree).3 At two years, those amounts increase to $69,851 and $82,391, respectively.3 Benefits include vacation, life insurance, sick leave and health insurance. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average wage of $61,780 for law enforcement officers in Austin in May 2013.4

The outlook for police officers in the state of Texas is bright. People who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement in Texas can expect around a 17% growth in job opportunities, with approximately 2,760 police officer jobs to be available each year through 2022.5

For more information on current APD law enforcement positions, take a look at our job board page.

How to learn more about the department and crime in Austin

Austin’s police department offers a Citizen Police Academy, which is available to those citizens who are 18 and older and wish to learn more about how APD cops are trained and how the APD operates. The program is free and lasts for 14 weeks (one 4-hour class each week on Tuesdays). Find out more and complete an application on the APD Citizen Police Academy page.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AustinPolice
APD Recruiting: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Austin-Police-Department-Recruiting/161440524610
Twitter: @Austin_Police

Austin Police Department
715 East 8th St
Austin, TX 78701

Additional Resources

1. Forbes Magazine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/02/14/americas-20-fastest-growing-cities/
2. Austin, Texas: https://www.austintexas.org/
3. Austin Police Department: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/police
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_12420.htm
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm