How to Become a Police Officer in Birmingham
As Alabama’s capital, Birmingham, with a population of 229,800, is one of the largest cities in the South. With a low cost of living (22% lower than average) and decent salaries for cops, Birmingham can be a fine city to start on the path to a law enforcement career.1
Hopeful recruits for a law enforcement career in Birmingham can learn more about the application, selection process, and the training involved below.
Birmingham Police Officer Requirements
Prospective police officers in Birmingham must meet some basic requirements before being considered for a job in law enforcement. Candidates must be US citizens and be at least 21 years old at the time of hire. They must hold a GED or high school diploma, a valid Alabama driver’s license, be in good physical health, have no felony convictions, and have good moral character. If they are veterans, candidates must have been honorably discharged from the armed services to be considered for a police officer job.
The first step in joining Birmingham’s law enforcement team is to take a written civil service exam, followed by a physical fitness screening. Then, applicants must take several examinations, including a polygraph, a physical, a psychological screening, and a background investigation before being considered for the force. The physical examination may include:
- Scaling a six-foot fence
- Dragging a 165-pound dummy five yards
- Walking five yards on a balance beam
- Crawling through a 2′ x 2′ window opening
- Running 1.5 miles within 15:28
- Pushing a car 15 feet
After passing the examinations and physical testing, recruits will attend the Birmingham Police Academy for approximately 20 weeks. The Academy’s curriculum includes over 920 hours of instruction, 480 of which are required by the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission. Prospective cops will be paid for their time at the Academy, and once completed will begin field training for a minimum of 16 weeks, during which they will be working with a Field Training Officer (FTO) in the Patrol Division of the force.
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 the Birmingham Police Department’s website.
Birmingham Police Department Information
The Birmingham Police Department (BPD) has nearly 1,000 officers serving a population of 212,000 and 146 square miles, and has an annual operating budget of 86.3 million dollars.2 The BPD has four major bureaus (administrative, support services, field operations, and investigative services) and four precincts (north, south, east and west), each of which is run by its own captain.
Birmingham Police Training Academy
For eight hours a day, five days a week, and for 20 weeks, recruits to Birmingham Police Department will attend classes at the Birmingham Police Training Academy, where they will learn a variety of subjects. Recruits will be paid for their time at the Academy. Subjects include search and seizure, criminal law, patrol procedures, police-community relations and first aid, firearms, defense tactics and physical fitness. The total training hours will be about 920 hours, and all training materials will be provided for recruits.
Birmingham Police Salary and Jobs Outlook
Police officers in Birmingham start with a salary that is based on their highest level of education. Cops with a four-year college degree will start with a salary of $39,270.40.2 Police officers who have an associate degree (or 64 semester hours) start with a salary of $37,356.80, and cops with a high school diploma or GED equivalent receive a salary of 35,609.60.2 Other perks for Birmingham cops include educational incentive pay, group medical, dental and life insurance, a retirement plan, a supplemental pension plan, deferred compensation, and vacation and sick leave. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that cops in Birmingham earned an average salary of $47,490 in 2014.3
The outlook for cops in Alabama is good. Projections Central estimates that police jobs in the state will grow by 6.7%, or by about 420 jobs each year, by the year 2022.4 As police officers are hired based on individual city budgets, make sure to check with each department. For more information on current Birmingham law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
How to learn more about the Department and crime in Birmingham
For those citizens who would like to know more about Birmingham’s Police Department, the city offers a ride-along program for interested citizens to learn more about how the Department functions. They also offer some other volunteer opportunities for members of the community, including an internship program, a chaplain program, city jail ministries, citizens on patrol (COP), and a Citizen’s Police Academy. To join the Citizen’s Police Academy, you must be a US citizen, at least 21 years old, and live and work in the city of Birmingham with no felony convictions. If interested, you can complete an application here.
Birmingham Police Department
1710 1st Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
- Alabama Peace Officers’ Association: http://www.alabamapeaceofficers.org/
- Alabama State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police: http://www.alabamastatefop.org/
1. Sperling’s Best Places: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/alabama/birmingham
2. Birmingham Police Department: http://police.birminghamal.gov/
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Birmingham-Hoover, AL: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_13820.htm
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm