I want to be a Police Officer. What do I need to do?

Becoming a police officer is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers that you can choose today. As a police officer, no two days will be alike, you will meet many different people with very different backgrounds, and you have the opportunity to specialize in a given skill or move up through the ranks to attain senior status. As a police officer, you will be called upon to assess risks and save lives, to help others through trauma and the most difficult days of their lives. If you believe in following the law and finding justice, and you want a job that truly makes a difference in society, then perhaps becoming a police officer is the right fit for you.

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[accordion title=”Which police force should I join?” icon=”fa fa-area-chart”]Canada has a variety of police forces, with nearly all major cities operating their own police force. Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador also operate their own provincial police forces. Additionally, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is a federal police force, providing police services for most Canadian provinces and investigations and security for the Canadian government. Each of these has their own requirements to join, but in this article, we will discuss how to join the Calgary Police.[/accordion]
[accordion title=”Values” icon=”fa fa-edit”]

The Calgary Police put great importance on their members’ character and morals, and demand that their members have a high degree of personal integrity, display sound judgment, use intelligent decision making, display maturity, and common sense.

As per the CPS website, the police force has six core values, which members are expected to hold:

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Compassion
  • Courage

These are the strengths that make a good Calgary Police Service officer.

[accordion title=”Requirements” icon=”fa fa-rocket”]

In order to apply to the Calgary Police Service, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Grade 12 diploma or equivalent.
  • Canadian citizen, landed immigrant status or permanent resident status (living in  Canada or the United States for three years).
  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Class 5 Driver’s license (non GDL) with no more than five demerit points.
  • Meet medical/health and fitness standards.
  • No unpardoned criminal convictions.
  • No criminal charges pending before the courts.
  • No criminal activity within the last three years both detected and undetected.
  • Good credit rating.
  • One year clear of discharge date from a bankruptcy.

Remember, you will be allowed to apply if you meet these requirements, but meeting them does not guarantee you will be hired. The application process for the police is competitive.


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In addition to the requirements above, the following qualifications might make you a more attractive candidate:

  • Minimum of two years post-secondary education and/or consistent employment history.
  • Volunteer experience in the community.
  • Work experience involving a position of responsibility and trust.
  • Duties that involve significant interaction with the public.
  • Applied knowledge of computers, including but not limited to, MS Windows, Word, Outlook, etc., and basic typing skills.

[accordion title=”The application process” icon=”fa fa-rocket”]

The road to becoming a police officer is not a short one – it can take from 6 months to 1 year for the typical application to be accepted. You will be required to complete a series of tests before you can begin training, which include the following (please see the Calgary Police website for this and further information):

1. Application Package
Application packages are available online and at the recruiting office located at 5111 47 Street N.E., Calgary AB.

Application packages MUST contain ALL of the following information:

2. PDF & Application Review
Once your application is received, it will be reviewed to ensure the information is complete. If it is, you will receive notification indicating it has successfully been reviewed and is awaiting assignment.

3. Written Testing
As per provincial guidelines, anyone interested in a policing career must write the Alberta Communication Test (ACT) and the Alberta Police Cognitive Ability Test (APCAT).

Alberta Communication Test (ACT)

The Alberta Communication Test takes one hour and 35 minutes to complete (including instructions and break). It is designed to assess an applicant’s ability to communicate in writing.

Alberta Police Cognitive Ability Test (APCAT)

This is job-related written exam takes approximately three hours to complete. The test consists of 120 multiple choice questions. The five areas of general cognitive ability that are assessed are judgment, observation skills, learning/memory recall, written communication and problem analysis.

While both tests are required for the application process, they do not have to be written at the same time.

4. Physical Testing
A-PREP (Alberta Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police) is the police recruit selection physical abilities test used by all municipal police agencies in Alberta.

The A-PREP can be a very challenging test to successfully complete if you haven’t trained specifically for it. We strongly encourage applicants to come prepared for this stage of the process in an effort to minimize delays.

A-PREP has three separate components:

  1. A screening component to ensure the applicant is medically suitable to undergo the test.
  2. A series of job simulation tasks arranged in a pursuit/restraint circuit.
  3. An assessment of aerobic fitness (the Aerobic Shuttle Run). For a detailed description of the A-PREP test please see “Fit to serve.”

5. PDF Interview
The step involves the applicant sitting down with a file manager and reviewing in significant details their PDF document and personal history. This interview assesses most importantly your integrity and honesty and substantial weight is placed on your ability to take responsibility for your past actions. This interview can be long, so plan to spend several hours with your file manager.

6. BDI Interview
The Behavioural Descriptive Interview (BDI) is based on the philosophy that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. The interview is designed to evaluate the applicant’s character as it relates to the chosen competencies. These competencies reflect the skills and behaviours demonstrated by successful police officers. Each behavioural competency question relates to an experience or event in an applicant’s past.

A question will be asked for each of the following five competencies:

  • Adaptability/decisiveness
  • Initiative/perseverance
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Stress management
  • Valuing service and diversity

7. Psychological Testing
Once you pass the panel interview you will be invited to write the psychological exams.  These tests take several hours to complete and are not something you can study for. File managers will provide additional information to applicants as they reach this step in the process.

8. Polygraph Examination
A specially trained polygraphist will conduct this examination.  Please note that we conduct a pre-employment polygraph, not a criminal interrogation. If you have been honest and up front throughout the application process, you should have no concerns about the polygraph stage.

9. Background Investigation
Once you reach this step in the process your file is assigned for background investigation by a retired CPS member.  They will interview various people from your life, including present and past employers and colleagues, friends, neighbours, etc.  They will contact people you have identified in your application package and others you have not.

10. Pre-Selection
It is at this stage that the entirety of your application is reviewed by your file manager and the recruiting unit Sergeant to determine suitability for recommendation for hire and competitiveness against others in the applicant pool.

11. Selection
It is at this stage that your file manager presents your application to a board of senior officers and recommends you for hire.  It is this board of officers that make the final hiring decision and either recommend applicants be hired or deferred. You will receive a call afterwards from your file manager advising you of their decision.

12. Conditional Offer of Employment/Pre-Employment Medical
Congratulations, you are now conditionally employed as a CPS police officer!  At this stage, a physician contracted by the City of Calgary will conduct a pre-employment medical exam on you to ensure you are suitable to perform the tasks related to police work.


[accordion title=”Frequently asked questions about being a police officer” icon=”fa fa-rocket”]

How long have you been in business?
The Calgary Police Service was founded in 1885.

How many people does your organization employ? How many locally?
Currently CPS has approximately 2100 officers and 800 civilian support staff.

What are the benefits of working for your company?
Serving the citizens of Calgary, making a difference in the community. Every day is different exciting, dangerous fulfilling and rewarding all in one day.

Describe opportunities for advancement.
There are over 150 different units within the Calgary Police Service with internal/external education and training. You can choose your path and be in control of your future within the service.

How would someone find out about opportunities at your company? How can a candidate apply?
Check the website join.calgarypolice.ca or attend the information sessions held once a month at the Police headquarters. All the dates and information are found on the website.

What do you look for in an employee?
The Calgary Police Service is looking for well-rounded individuals who possess a variety of skills and personal qualities, so our hiring is based on several factors. We also have some preferred qualifications, such as having at least two years of post-secondary education and/or consistent employment history and some work experience that involves responsibility and trust.

We are looking for members with exemplary moral character, and a high degree of personal integrity. We are searching for people who display sound judgment, intelligent decision making, maturity and common sense. We also consider volunteer experience, computer knowledge, and interactions with the public as part of our recruiting process.

What type of education/training/equipment do you require?
The minimum required education to apply is grade 12. Check our website for additional requirements. Training is 6 months in length and is conducted at Westwinds headquarters. All uniforms and equipment are supplied by the Calgary Police Service.

Provide a wage range for entry level positions.

5th class constable starting wage is approximately $66,000/yr.

What are the hours of the business and general shift times? Are there a minimum number of hours someone needs to work per week? Is there flexibility regarding school schedules?
Shift work is mandatory and a typical shift schedule is two days two nights, followed by four days off. Shifts can range from 10 to 12 hours. Depending on the unit, work schedules and hours can change.

Is a uniform provided or do employees have to pay for it?
Uniforms and equipment are provided to the officer at no cost.


[accordion title=”Am I ready to apply?” icon=”fa fa-rocket”]

The following questions have been taken from the Calgary Police website. Ask yourself these questions to decide whether you are ready to apply:

  1. I meet the minimum requirements.
  2. My lifestyle is one that exhibits high moral character.
  3. I am able to work with all kinds of people in a variety of situations.
  4. I have self-confidence to be assertive when the situation demands it.
  5. In the face of uncertainty, I can make necessary decisions.
  6. I am the type of person who seeks out a challenge.
  7. I am physically fit, emotionally stable and responsible.
  8. I am prepared to work in all types of weather conditions.
  9. I have considered the impact that shift work will have on my home life.
  10. I am just as comfortable working alone as in a team environment.
  11. I demonstrate leadership qualities.
  12. I am willing to work shifts, including evenings, nights and weekends at any time of the year.
  13. I have no medical conditions that will limit my ability to do police work.
  14. I am able to use my own initiative and work with a minimum amount of supervision.
  15. My experience reflects an ongoing interest in serving my community.
  16. My moral, philosophical or religious beliefs would not prevent me from using deadly force if required.