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 over one million residents.1 San Jose is part of the Greater Bay Area, along with San Francisco and Monterey, and has dubbed itself the “Capital of Silicon Valley” because of its affluence and subsequent high cost of living. The city enjoys a lower crime rate than the average for similarly-sized metros and the US overall.2 To keep the city safe, the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) employs approximately 1,400 sworn and non-sworn employees.3 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 a competitive process. First, candidates must satisfy the department’s basic requirements. To be considered, candidates must:
- Be a US citizen
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have at least 40 semester credit hours of college by the end of police academy training
- Hold a valid driver’s license
- Have visual acuity of at least 20/40 corrected
- Have no prior felonies or assault convictions
If all of these requirements are met, the first step to becoming a cop in San Jose is to complete an application online as well as a 180-question personal history questionnaire. If the applicant is accepted, he or she will be contacted by a recruiter to schedule a written and physical agility test. If these tests are passed with the minimum requirements, the next step is the oral board exam, which is a panel-style interview. Lastly, a background check will be performed, after which successful candidates will attend the San Jose 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.
San Jose Police Academy
The San Jose Police Academy is a 24-week, 1,120-hour training program.3 Recruits do not live at the academy but are paid for their time there. Subjects taught include state, local, and federal laws, firearms training, criminal investigations, and police officer ethics. After graduating from the academy, recruits move into field training with the patrol division of the SJPD. All new officers work in patrol for their first three years of service, after which officers become eligible to test for special assignments as well as the sergeant’s promotional exam.
San Jose Police Department Information
The SJPD operates four divisions, each containing four districts, for a total of 16 patrol districts. Each patrol district is further broken down into police beats. There are over 50 specialized units and assignments within the SJPD, including Gang Investigations, Human Trafficking, Homicide, and Covert Response.
The San Jose Police Department is dedicated to a community policing model and has several Community Policing Centers located within its jurisdiction. The SJPD also employs crime prevention specialists who act as community liaisons and resources to prevent crime before it becomes an issue. Other community programs include regular public presentations, neighborhood watch groups, and participation in National Night Out.
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 check. 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.
Department Contact Information
San Jose Police Salary and Jobs Outlook
The starting salary for San Jose police officers is $38.05/hour while attending the police academy.3 Once sworn in, San Jose cops working patrol make a starting salary of $95,894 per year which rises annually to a maximum of $152,415 per year after eight years of service.3 Experience, training, special assignments, and higher education may increase an officer’s base pay. Benefits include health and dental plans, paid leave, and bilingual pay. All San Jose police are eligible to participate in the city’s retirement plan.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that cops in San Jose earned an average salary of $123,810 in 2017.4 Prospective members of law enforcement in the state California can expect around 5% job growth through 2026.5 For more information on current SJPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board.
Cities and Police Departments Near San Jose
Approximately 3,660 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in the San Jose metro area.4 This includes police working for the urban San Jose Police Department as well as police working for the suburbs and cities surrounding San Jose. The table below compares police employment and crime rates for selected municipalities in the area.
|City||Force Name/Abbreviation||City Population6||Police Dept. Total Employees7||Sworn Officers7||Civilian Staff7||Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People8||Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People8|
|Fremont||Fremont Police Department (FPD)||234,962||282||180||102||0.18||2|
|Mountain View||Mountain View Police Department (MVPD)||81,438||129||86||43||0.16||2.18|
|Palo Alto||Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD)||67,178||137||79||58||0.11||2.14|
|San Jose||San Jose Police Department (SJPD)||1,030,119||1,352||939||413||0.37||2.4|
|Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD)||65,021||115||93||22||0.8||5.55|
- San Jose Police Officers’ Association – The San Jose Police Officers’ Association is the bargaining unit for local police officers and advocates for better working conditions, wages, and benefits for police.
- Silicon Valley Fraternal Order of Police – The Silicon Valley Fraternal Order of Police offers social, legal, and insurance benefits to its members.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, San Jose, CA: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/california/san_jose
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, San Jose, CA: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/california/san-jose/crime
3. San Jose Police Department: https://www.sjpd.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41940.htm
5. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
6. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
8. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6.xls/view