How to Become a Police Officer in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has the fourth largest police force in the nation. In fact, the department employs more than 6,600 sworn officers as well as 800 civilian personnel and patrols in the city, which has a population of approximately 1.5 million.1

Anyone looking to become a Philadelphia police officer must meet a wide list of requirements. Once those requirements are met, eligible candidates will be chosen to attend the Philadelphia police training academy. The steps to becoming a Philly cop are outlined in detail below.

Philadelphia Police Officer Requirements

Philadelphia Police Administration Building

Philadelphia Police Administration Building

Becoming a police officer in Philadelphia requires candidates to fulfill a number of eligibility standards as well as quite a few administrative steps. Many of the requirements are similar to other US cities such as proof of US citizenship, minimum age of 21 and possession of a valid driver’s license. All candidates must be registered Philadelphia residents by the time they are hired for service, although there is a grace period of six months to get registered in the city.

The application process to become a Philadelphia cop begins by filling out the application during the city’s enrollment period. For more information, consult the department’s career page.

There are also education requirements that must be completed before being appointed a Philadelphia officer. Depending on prior experience in the military and education, there are four possible options for eligibility in this area:

  1. Candidates must prove they have completed sixty college credits with a minimum GPA at an accredited learning institution
  2. Candidates must have a GED AND two years of consecutive, active military service with an honorable discharge
  3. Candidates must have one year of full-time employment as a certified law enforcement officer within the three year period prior to the closing date of applications for the PPD
  4. Candidates must have a GED AND successfully complete the Philadelphia Police Explorers Cadet Program

Examinations Required for Philadelphia Police Recruits

Like most cities, there are many physical and written exams candidates must pass to be eligible service in Philadelphia. All recruits will be subjected to an extensive background check and are required to take a medical examination and drug screening as well as a psychological evaluation and a polygraph exam. Additionally, all potential officers must pass the physical exam consists of a 300-meter run, sit-ups, bench press according to body weight, and the 1.5-mile run.

The Reading Ability Test is also required of candidates and is used to verify that all Philly police officers have at least a ninth grade reading level as established through the Nelson-Denny Reading Test. There is also a written test required of all candidates.

During the testing process, those who are military veterans (Veteran’s Preference) and relatives of veteran Philly police officers (Legacy Preference) may be eligible for extra points on their exams, so called “preference points.” There are also added preference points for those who have bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees.2

For more information, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage and once you are ready to apply for a position, application information can be found in the career section of the Philadelphia Police Department’s website.

Charles H. Ramsey is the current Philadelphia police commissioner. Sworn in as commissioner in 2008, Ramsey has had a long career in law enforcement. Ramsey graduated from the FBI National Academy and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.

Philadelphia Police Department Information

The Philadelphia PD is divided into 22 districts, each headed by a captain. These districts are further divided into six police divisions (Northwest, Northeast, East, Central, Southwest and South). Like many big cities, Philadelphia has a number of special units such as the harbor patrol, SWAT Team, K-9 squad and a community relations unit.

Philadelphia Police Training Academy

Once candidates have met the requirements listed above, a select few will be eligible for the Philadelphia Police Academy. At the academy, new recruits will face 30 weeks and approximately 1,245 hours of intense physical, mental and tactical training.

For more information on Philadelphia recruit hiring and the police academy training process, consult the information found at the Philadelphia PD Recruitment Office.

Philadelphia Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

The Philadelphia Police Department is currently recruiting qualified candidates for police duty. Although the training is quite rigorous, the pay and benefits for a Philly cop are certainly generous. While salaries can vary depending on education, rank, and experience, it is typical for officers to receive annual pay increases bringing the average annual Philadelphia patrol officer salary at $61,610.4

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

More Information on the Philadelphia Police Department

The department is actively invested in the communities that it serves and has a number of community programs that facilitate a strong bond between the police and Philly neighborhoods. The Police Athletic League, the Explorer Cadet Program, the Youth Police Camp and the popular Heads-up Program are four of its most popular inter-community programs.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phillypolice
Twitter: @PhillyPolice

Philadelphia Police Headquarters
750 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 686-1776

Additional Resources

1. Philadelphia Police Department: http://www.phillypolice.com/about/
2. Philadelphia Police Department: https://joinphillypd.com/index.php/qualifications/overview
3. Philadelphia Police Department: https://joinphillypd.com/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_37964.htm

Image credit: Wikipedia