How to Become a Police Officer in San Jose

San Jose, California is the third-largest city in California, and the tenth-largest in the United States. With just about one million inhabitants, it makes up part of the Greater Bay Area, along with San Francisco and Monterey. San Jose also makes Forbes’ list of America’s fastest-growing cities, at number 19.1 The city has dubbed itself the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” because of its affluence and subsequent high cost of living.2 It also boasts that it is one of the most international cities, as well as one of the safest cities in the US.2

The San Jose police department is dedicated to keeping the city safe from crime. If you are interested in becoming part of the law enforcement team in San Jose, the application, selection, and training process is detailed below.

San Jose Police Officer Requirements

Becoming a cop in San Jose is competitive. First, candidates must meet some basic requirements. They must be US citizens, hold a valid driver’s license, and be 21 at the time of academy entry. A minimum vision of 20/40 is also required, and applicants can have no prior felonies or assault convictions. A high school diploma or GED is required, unless a college degree is held. Unlike many other cities, being a cop in San Jose requires applicants to have attended some college. A minimum of 40 semester (or 60 quarter) credits from an accredited college or university are required.

If all of these requirements are met, the first step to becoming a cop in San Jose is to complete an application online. If the applicant is accepted, he or she will be contacted by a recruiter to schedule a written and physical exam, as well as a 1.5-mile run. The written test must be passed with a score of 50 or higher, the physical agility test must be passed with a score of 320 or higher, and the 1.5-mile run must be completed in 14 minutes or less. If these tests are passed with the minimum requirements, a personal history questionnaire (PHQ) will be given. The next step is the oral board exam, which is a panel-style interview of five-to-eight questions. Lastly, a background check will be performed, after which successful candidates will attend the Police Academy.

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 San Jose PD’s recruiting page.

Chief Larry Esquivel has served the San Jose Police Department for 30 years. He began his career in the SJPD as a Reserve Officer in 1984 and worked in various capacities until being appointed to the post of Chief of Police in 2013.

San Jose Police Department Information

The SJPD comprises over 1,000 officers, 370 civilians, and has an operating budget of around 328 million dollars per year.2 The city is broken down into four divisions, each containing four districts, for a total of 16 patrol districts. Each patrol district is further broken down into police beats.3

San Jose Police Training Academy

The SJPD Training Academy is a 24-week, 1120-hour training program.3 Recruits will not live at the academy, but will be paid for their time there. Subjects taught will include California laws, firearms training, criminal investigations, and police officer ethics. After graduating from the Academy, recruits will move into field training with the patrol division of the SJPD. The latest class graduated just 29 cadets, lower than the department’s goal of 60 per class.4

San Jose Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

The starting salary for San Jose police officers is $32.19/hour for attending the academy.3 Once sworn in, San Jose cops make between $78,000 and $104,000 per year, depending on the number of years served.3 Each seven years, members of the law enforcement increase one step on the pay scale. Experience, training, and education may increase an officer’s base pay. Benefits include extra pay for specialized assignments, health and dental plans, paid leave, and bilingual pay. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that cops in San Jose earned an average salary of $96,430 in the year 2013.5

Prospective members of law enforcement in the state California can expect around a 7% increase in job opportunities over the next several years, with approximately 2,570 police officer jobs available each year through 2022.6 According to the San Jose Mercury News, the SJPD will be looking to hire more officers in the coming years, to account for more officers expected to be lost through 2016.4

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

How to learn more about the department and crime in San Jose

The SJPD offers a ride-along program for San Jose citizens who would like to learn more about cops and crime in the city. Interested persons should sign up a month in advance, and will be subject to a background test. Participants must be at least 18, and willing to attend a ride-along orientation class, which take place in the evenings. Find out more and complete an application on the SJPD website.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SanJosePD
Facebook recruiting: https://www.facebook.com/SanJosePD/
Twitter: @SanJosePD

San Jose Police Department
201 W Mission St
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 277-8900

Additional Resources

1. Forbes Magazine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/02/14/americas-20-fastest-growing-cities/
2. City of San Jose: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/
3. San Jose Police Department: http://www.sjpd.org/
4. San Jose Mercury News: https://www.mercurynews.com/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41940.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm