Philadelphia is home to one of the largest police forces in the nation, employing more than 6,600 sworn officers along with 800 civilian personnel. To join this force and protect the 1.5 million people of the ‘City of Brotherly Love’, there are certain requirements you will need to fulfill.

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Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Philadelphia

Becoming a police officer in Philadelphia requires candidates to meet certain eligibility standards set by the City. Most of these requirements are quite similar to those in other states, with slight variations.

  • Residency: Even though applicants are not initially required to be residents of the city, they are required to establish residency in a maximum of 6 months after they are promoted to the Police Officer 1 level. For members appointed to Police Officer Recruit position, the time limit is one year.
  • Education: A high school diploma or a GED
  • Age: Candidates must be at least 22 years of age
  • Citizenship: Candidates must be US citizens
  • Candidates must possess a valid driver’s license
How to Become a Police Officer in Philadelphia
How to Become a Police Officer in Philadelphia

Steps to Become a Police officer in Philadelphia

Once you meet all the requirements to become a police officer in Philadelphia, you will begin the application process. The hiring process of the Philadelphia Police Departments is divided into multiple steps, with extensive evaluations and examinations.

  1. Step 1: Fill out the application form: Visit this website: and fill out the application.

    1. Step 2: Get a Notification:

If you are shortlisted for further screening, you will receive a notification from the department about the next steps. This can take several months.

    1. Step 3: Complete a Reading Exam:

Applicants for the Philadelphia Police Department will need to pass the Nelson-Denny Reading Test.

    1. Step 4:

Pass the physical exam: Before this test, candidates will go through a medical examination to determine if they are fit enough to appear for this test. The test itself will comprise of four elements:

  • A 300-meter run
  • Maximum sit-ups within a minute
  • Bench Press (according to percentage of body weight)
  • 1.5 mile run

Note: A drug screening test will also be conducted. Random drug-screening tests can be expected by active Philadelphia PD members throughout their career.

    1. Step 5: Complete the Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ) Interview:

Candidates will be required to complete an in-depth background questionnaire, which will be an extensive background information collection exercise. This form will be provided at the first orientation session to take home and fill out in detail. Date for submission will also be specified. Candidates are encouraged to fill this form with complete honesty.

    1. Step 6: Clear the Background Investigation:

This step is carried out by the Recruit Background Investigations Unit by contacting people listed in your PDQ. This could include previous employers, friends, neighbors, family members and so on. Investigators will also go over your background information in great detail.

    1. Step 7: Pass the Medical Evaluation:

This step will involve a complete physical check-up of the applicant, including a review of the medical history, an eye exam, breathing test, color blindness test and an EKG. Height and weight measurements will be taken – weight will need to be according to the height. Overweight or underweight candidates will be notified about the target weight they need to get to for eligibility.

    1. Step 8: Complete the Psychological Evaluation:

Candidates will be required to take the MMPI-2 – a true-false personality questionnaire. Following this, they will have an hour-long session with a State of Pennsylvania licensed psychologist.x

    1. Step 9: Pass the Polygraph Test:

This test will determine the truthfulness of the applicant regarding the information provided throughout the hiring process. It is mandatory to pass this test, which lasts approximately two hours.

Once you have cleared all nine steps, you will be placed on an eligibility list. As soon as a relevant vacancy opens up and training sessions are planned, applicants will be drawn from this list to attend the training program. The drawing process will depend on your rank on this list. Upon completion of the training program, candidates will be promoted to Police Officer I level. This will be the start of the probationary period. Once the probationary period is finished, candidates are appointed as full-time employees at the Philadelphia Police Department.

How long does it take to become a police officer in Philadelphia?

One you have met all the qualifying requirements and have cleared the above nine steps, you will be put into a training program that lasts 30 weeks. Following these 30 weeks, you will then be put on probation for a year, during which you will be under strict supervision.

How Much Does A Police Officer Make in Philadelphia?

The following statistics are taken from official website of Philadelphia Police Department:

Position Salary Detail
Police Officer Recruit $49,447 Police Academy
Police Officer $51,245 Upon graduation from the Police Academy


In addition to these, police officers are eligible for increments. Overtime work is also paid at the rate of time and a half.

Career Outlook for Becoming a Police Officer in Philadelphia

The career outlook for becoming a police officer in Philadelphia is very bright at the moment. With excellent opportunities for promotions and salary increases, Philadelphia PD is on the rise. The department also offers a detailed healthcare plan, deferred compensation plan, vacation leaves, sick leaves and a pension plan. After one year of service, police officers are eligible to sit for the detective or corporal promotions exams. Candidates who pass this exam might get a 10% pay increase, following the promotion. After two years of service, police officers may take the Sergeant exam. If cleared, this promotion would come with a 14% salary increase. Higher rank advancement to the positions of Lieutenant, Inspector or Captain may also be available at later career levels.

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