The process to become a police officer is different from most other careers. There are several steps and it generally takes about six months to a year to complete due to the number of interested applicants and the in-depth background investigation that is required by state/federal law and city/bureau policy.
In our efforts to make the process more efficient for both local and out-of-state applicants we have condensed Phases 1, 2 and 3 to happen within a few days of each other. Below is a standard schedule for the entire process.
Phases 1 - 3 (3 - 6 days)
Phase 4 (14-18 weeks from the date the background is assigned to an investigator*)
Background Investigation and Chain of Command Approval - once assigned an investigation generally takes about 12-16 weeks. Chain of command review with approval can take anywhere from 1 - 3 weeks. Once approved candidates will receive a conditional offer of hire.
* Depending on the number of applicants and staffing levels the wait time to be assigned to a background investigator can vary from days to months.
Phases 5-6 (2 - 7 days)
Phase 5 (Medical Exam) and Phase 6 (Psychological Exam) - after receiving a conditional offer of hire, applicants are placed on the hire board. Candidates are invited to complete the final 2 phases as positions open. The medical and physical are usually completed within one week - 2-days in the case of out-of-town applicants who travel to Portland. When we are actively hiring, we generally schedule hire groups every other month, sometimes monthly.
We encourage potential applicants to attend one of our informational workshops and/or a practice Physical Abilities Test in order to better prepare themselves. These events are usually scheduled prior to actual testing dates. For more event details and descriptions visit Preparatory Workshop.
The City of Portland only accepts online applications during an Open Enrollment period.
Please fill out the Recruiter Contact form and/or check our homepage and Facebook page for recruitment updates.
Prior to applying applicants will need to create a Career Seeker Account with www.governmentjobs.com (also accessible at www.portlandoregon.gov/jobs). The account will only need basic contact information because work history and education will be included in your Statement of Personal History.
During an Open Recruitment applicants will go to www.portlandoregon.gov/jobs and select the "Community Police Officer" job link. Applicants will use their Career Seeker Account login/password to complete the application and supplemental yes/no questions. Typically, our recruitments are limited to the first 100 applicants. Once you receive an auto-reply confirmation we have received your application to take the written test.
The written test consists of four components:
- Accuracy of Observation (Recalling visual stimuli)
- Written Communication Skills (Writing skills and multiple choice test)
- Skills Reading and Understanding (Read passages and respond to questions)
- Biodata Test (54-question test)
Please take the time to review the Police Written Test Guide for an in-depth explanation of each section of Portland's written exam.
Phases 1 and 2 are given on a scheduled Saturday so candidates should wear appropriate athletic attire to the Saturday test date. Once a candidate has successfully completed the written and physical exams they will be scheduled for Phase 3 - Oral Interview the following week.
The PAT takes place on the same scheduled Saturday as Phase 1 Written Test. During the PAT applicants will be tested on:
- Physical strength
- Agility and coordination
To help with your preparation for the Physical Abilities Test (PAT) below are links to a video and a detailed diagram/description. Some applicants tell us that the PAT is not as easy as it seems. However, most people in reasonably good aerobic and anaerobic physical condition pass this part of the process.
Those who do not pass generally report that it is the stair section that made it most difficult. Therefore, it may be useful to include running stairs in your preparatory exercise routine. We invite any and all applicants to attend a Practice Physical Ability ahead of your actual test time. These are offered periodically and the results will have absolutely no bearing on your application process as we do not maintain scores.
Upon successful completion of the PAT and Written Test applicants are scheduled for the Oral Interviews.
- 6 Questions
- A Pass/Fail panel interview (2 sworn, 1 non-sworn)
The Statement of Personal History (SPH) and Required Documents will either be turned in following the successful conclusion of your Oral Interview, or mailed to us within a few weeks if you participate in an out-of-state recrutiment process.
The SPH is your introduction to your background investigator and it will be the starting point for your background investigation. The thoroughness and accuracy of your SPH will impact how long your investigation takes to complete. We encourage people to start the SPH well ahead of the application date - generally, it can take months to complete an SPH and gather all of the required documents. Please read (and reread) the instructions for filling out the SPH prior to completing the document or contacting us with questions. The link to the line-by-line speicfic instructions is below.
If this is the first law enforcement job for which you have applied, we highly encourage applicants to attend a Statement of Personal History workshop to understand our expectations and to ask any questions on completion of this vitally important document. We are here to help and want to make sure you have all the tools you need to be successful in the process.
Applicants must answer all questions completely and accurately, or they risk being eliminated from the process. The length of the background investigation is directly related to the amount of time it takes your references to return the applicable forms and respond to requests for information and/or clarification.
Consists of a formal interview and testing with a psychologist who has reviewed your background investigation report along with the California Psychological Inventory and Personal History Questionnaire that was taken at the written exam.
Consists of a comprehensive physical examination, including a drug screen.