Police Career Opportunities

If you are considering a Career in Policing, read on.

There are almost as many ways to become a police officer in Canada as there are the number of police agencies in the country.

The following, hopefully, will help you with your decision making and answer those FAQ's that you would like to ask, but haven't.

The information provided is general in nature and intended to give the reader a broad overview of the related recruiting issues.  If you have a specific police agency in mind that you are applying to, it is important that you contact their Recruiting Officer for that department's specific hiring criteria.

Police Officer Recruiting


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FAQ's and Answers

Is there minimum hiring criteria to become a police officer?  If so, are they applied nationally?

Each police agency in Canada has minimum hiring criteria, however, there may be slight differences in minimum requirements form department to department, and depending on what province you are in.  There is no national standard.

What are the minimum requirements I should meet before applying to become a police officer?

The following are the absolute minimum requirements you would need to meet prior to applying to be a police officer:

If I meet the minimum requirements, but not exceed them, do I have a realistic chance of being hired?

Depending on the police service and what they are looking for in a recruit, you may have a chance of being hired.  However, you would likely have a better chance of being successful if you possessed more than the minimum requirements.

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What is the competition like from other applicants?

If you decide to apply for a career in policing you are entering a highly competitive process.  Police agencies are seeking to hire the best available candidates and will make every effort to ensure they get the best. 

Over the past ten years or so, the average applicant profile has been noted to include more mature individuals (mid to late 20's) with higher education achievements (many with degrees), often married with a family, and already in a successful career that they are willing to leave.  Having said that the age range spreads from a low of the minimum age (19) to a high in the mid to late 40's; and the level of education range from high school graduation certificate to graduate degrees.

Not many police organizations keep data on the number of actual applicants versus the number hired, but those in recruiting and training indicate that for every recruit/cadet position filled, approximately 15-20 applicants were unsuccessful.   Therefore having more than the minimum requirements along with increased life and work experiences can make you a good candidate to be hired. 

Can Diversity play a role in the recruiting process?

There is not only a keen interest, but a necessity, for Canada's police services to reflect the communities they serve.  Policing, in the Western world, for many years has been a white male dominated profession.  However, over the last 10-20 years significant change has been occurring within police ranks.

So, if you are a woman, First Nations citizen or a visible minority, you may be looked upon as a desirable candidate.  However, it is important to note that there is no hiring quota of diverse applicants and the 'best' candidate, in the eyes of the Police Service, will always be hired.

All police services in Canada are equal opportunity employers and encourage applications from all ethnic and cultural groups that make up Canada's diverse population.

Do I have to be a Canadian Citizen before becoming a police officer?

Depending on the police service you are interested in applying for you may have to hold Canadian Citizenship.  Most police services, however, will hire qualified permanent residents of Canada.  For accuracy please check with the police service you are interested in.

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What does the recruiting process include?

Steps in the recruiting process vary from police service to police service.  The following is a general guideline of the process and you may experience some or all of the following steps:

How long does the recruiting process take from application, to being hired?

Police recruiting is a lengthy process and can take up to one year from the start of the application process. It is possible to go through the process in as little as four months, but expect it to be longer.

How in-depth is the background investigation?

Very in-depth.  Experienced police officers conduct each background interview and will want to speak to your family, friends, neighbours, landlords, present and past employers and work colleagues.  Always tell the truth throughout the recruiting process as if you have something to hide it will usually come out during the background investigation.

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What sort of post secondary education should I pursue with a policing career in mind?

At one time Criminology was the post secondary education of choice for individuals pursuing a career in policing, however, there is an acceptance today of a broad variety of education disciplines including business, arts, engineering, teaching, nursing, sports and sciences, among others.  Any post secondary education is preferable than none at all.

Physical Abilities testing; what are POPAT, PARE and PREP?

POPAT (Peace Officers Physical Abilities Test), PARE ( Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation), and PREP (Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police) are all variations for testing job related physical abilities.  The tests simulate physical job related activities such as running, climbing stairs, avoiding obstacles, pushing, pulling, falling, getting up, carrying and dragging, and all to be completed in a minimum time frame.

POPAT was the first test of its kind and was developed in the mid to late 1980's by Doug Farenholtz, PhD, who was then working with the Police Academy, Justice Institute of BC.  POPAT has been adopted as the standard physical abilities test in British Columbia and by many police agencies across Canada.

PARE is the RCMP version of physical abilities testing and uses most of the same activities as in POPAT but varies the order of the components based on their own research.  Some other police services in Canada, such as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, use PARE in their recruiting process.

PREP is the standard in Ontario and has two main components, a pursuit/restraint circuit and an aerobic shuttle run, both timed separately.  The pursuit/restraint circuit is somewhat similar to POPAT and PARE with one or two additional components.

Policing can be a physically demanding profession and each of these tests are a reasonable measure of how an individual will perform in such circumstances.

Are there other physical tests I must take in addition to the standard testing like POPAT?

Some police services across Canada may require you to complete a timed 2.4km run, participate in a conventional fitness testing program, and/or demonstrate your ability to swim and tread water.  For accuracy please check with the police service you have chosen to apply for.

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What if I have a Criminal Record?

If you do have a criminal record you are required to seek and obtain a pardon for the conviction(s) noted and prior to submitting an application to any police service for employment.  Also, you cannot have any criminal charges pending before the courts at the time of application.

Do I need a First Aid/CPR certification before applying?

Many police services in Canada will require you to have a current First Aid/CPR certificate before being hired, and some may require this certification prior to applying. 

What if I can't swim?

It will depend on the police service you are applying to.  Not all police services require you to be able to swim as a criteria to being hired, even those with waterfront jurisdictions.

I am a police officer in the U.K. (Australia, New Zealand, etc.), can I apply directly for a position with a Canadian Police Service?

The short answer is no.  Before applying to a Canadian police service for employment you must have emigrated to, and be a permanent resident of Canada.  Once a permanent resident, your previous work experience will be an asset to being employed by a Canadian police service.

Do I need to have a Drivers Licence before being hired?

Yes, you need to hold a valid, unrestricted, drivers licence before being employed, and you should have one before you apply.  You should also have a good driving record.  A poor driving history will negatively affect your chances of employment.

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Do I have to pay for some or all of the testing during the recruiting process?

Once again, this will depend on what province you are in and what police service or pre-employment program you are applying for.  In some provinces you will not have to pay for any of the testing components.  However, in others, you may be required to pay for one or more of the testing procedures including, but not limited to: Aptitude Tests; Medical; Psychological Testing; Polygraph; Physical Abilities Testing; Vision Testing; and a Criminal Records check.  Fees will vary.  Check with the Police Service you are interested in applying for and enquire as to which fees may apply.

I have corrected vision, is this a barrier to being hired?

It should not be a barrier providing your corrected vision meets the required minimum standard and the (laser) surgery was completed more than three months prior to the application process.

If I am hired as a police officer, can I go directly into a specialty section or work on Forensics, like Crime Scene Investigation?

No, you will (most likely) be assigned to general duty in the Patrol Division.  Expect to serve at minimum 4 years (until you become a First Class Constable), if not more, in general duty before you can apply for specialty sections.  The larger the police service you are with the more opportunity there is for specialty work earlier in your career. 

However, do not overlook small departments.  Even though you may serve longer in general duty, your investigative skills can develop quicker as you will carry and investigate most of your files from start to completion.  In larger departments the responding member often takes the initial complaint and preliminary investigation and hands the follow-up investigation off to another unit.

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What if I fail one or more of the testing components, like the written test or a physical test?

If you fail one of the written, physical or simulation testing processes you may get an opportunity to retake that component.  You will, however, have to wait a minimum period of time (3 months or more) that will vary depending on the failed component.  You may also be directed to take a developmental course in preparation for retesting, and being a strong candidate in other areas of the selection process will be a factor for retesting.

I am an experienced Canadian police officer and wish to move to another police agency in another province.  If hired, will I have to go through basic training again?

Most province's and police services have an exemption policy that allows experienced officers from police services across Canada to move from one province to another.   You would be required to have been previously trained in a recognized Canadian police training program and have an exemplary service record to be considered.  The exemption policy may direct that you do not have to retake the full recruit training program for that province or police service, but may direct you to successfully complete a transitional training program or testing components that may include simulated exercises.  Exemption policies vary across the country and it is recommended that you contact the police service of your interest and confirm their specific requirements.

I am over 40 years old and have always dreamed of being a police officer.  Am I to old, or can I still apply?  Would I have realistic expectations of being hired?

You are not too old, and there is no upper age limit to being hired as a police officer.  There have been a significant number of new officers hired while in their forties over the past 10-15 years.  However, although you come as a mature applicant with significantly broader life and work experiences, remember that you will be tested to the same physical abilities as all other applicants.  Therefore, it goes without saying that you should be in excellent physical shape.

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I work in the private security industry, will this support my application to become a police officer?

Any experience in security or law enforcement will likely be an asset, however, it will not make you a preferential candidate for selection.  Job experience is only one of the factors assessed in selecting new officers, and police services will hire only the best candidates in the process. 

How physically demanding is the basic recruit/cadet training program?

Al basic recruit training programs are very physically demanding.  If you can pass POPAT, PARE or PREP in the average time or less, you are likely in good enough physical shape to complete the program.  However, you will be pushed to your limit physically as you will be required to run distances up to several miles, and successful complete the hands on physical demanding defensive tactics and control techniques components of the program. 

Remember, tests like PARE measure physical abilities, not overall fitness, and if you take the maximum time in any physical abilities test you would be considered borderline to complete the program without additional fitness training.

Do I require some volunteer experience in my background?

You are not required to have volunteer experience in your background, however, it is an asset to have providing it has added to your individual development.  If you do choose to volunteer ensure that the experience affords you to work with a variety of people, and to develop your communication and interpersonal skills.  Most recruiters do tend to look positively on community related volunteer work. 

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Do I have to pay for the Basic Recruit/Cadet Training Program?

This varies across the Canada and for a complete answer please refer to our Police Training/Police Recruit Training page, that breaks the information down by province, territory and training institution, including the RCMP.

Do recruits/cadets get paid during Basic Training?

If you have been hired, sworn in and attending a post employment training program you will most likely be paid a probationer constables salary.  If you are in a cadet and/or pre-employment program you will most likely not be paid a salary.  For a complete answer please refer to our Police Training/Police Recruit Training page.

Should I talk to a recruiter?

If you are serious about a career in policing, it is our recommendation that you talk to a recruiter in the police service(s) you are interested in.  Policing is a rewarding, challenging, interesting and honourable career.  Good luck in the process.

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