Becoming a Police Officer

Columbus Police Officers Chatting with Ohio State Fan
Columbus Police Trunk or Treat Community Event
CPD with Therapy Dog
The Columbus Police Academy
Police Officer playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with Child
Two Police Cruisers blocking a road at night

Your step-by-step journey to becoming a Police Officer for the City of Columbus!

Milestone 1: Apply!

Who should apply

To be a Police Officer in Columbus, you must first meet the following minimum qualifications:

1. Possession of a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalence (GED)

2. At least twenty (20) years of age when applying, and at least twenty-one (21) years of age at the time of being sworn in

3. Possession of a valid motor vehicle operator’s license at time of appointment

4. A citizen of the United States of America

You must also be able to answer "no" to these two questions:

1. After reaching 18 years of age, were you convicted of domestic violence?

2. After reaching 18 years of age, were you convicted of a federal offense?

A thorough background check will be conducted in step 3. The complete background removal standards can be found here.(PDF, 197KB)

Learn more about being a Police Officer in the City.

When to apply

Applications for City of Columbus Police Officer are being accepted now! 

Where to apply

All applications are handled online. The City uses for its applicant services. Begin by creating or updating your profile. This video guides you through setting up a profile.

Login to

How to apply

Once your profile is created, you're ready to apply!

1. Click this Apply to be a Police Officer Now! button

2. Select the job title "Police Officer - EXAM"

3. Click the green "Apply" button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen (computer users) or the bottom of your screen (smart phone users)

4. Complete and submit your application

Note: If you are peace officer, or you have the Ohio Basic Peace Officer Training certification, select the job title of "Police Officer - Certified Lateral" instead.

What to expect

Once you've applied, your application will be reviewed to make sure you meet the minimum qualifications and pass the background questions. If everything checks out, you'll be invited to take the Police Officer Exam. Invitations are sent through email and/or text, so be sure to keep notifications turned on in your profile settings!

Additional Resources

Milestone 2: Police Officer Test

Candidate receives help from analyst in testing center

The Police Officer test consists of two phases.

Phase One: Multiple Choice

a picture of a multiple-choice test scan sheetThe multiple-choice exam assesses knowledge needed to be a successful in the Police Training Academy. This tests your ability to spell and properly use common words used in the English language, your ability to comprehend written text, and your ability to understand cardinal (north, south, east, and west) directions and read maps.

The multiple-choice exam consists of up to 100 test questions in four main sections.

1. Spelling: The first type of question in this section asks you to identify the word that is spelled correctly. The second type asks you to identify the word that is spelled incorrectly.

 2. Vocabulary: The first type of question in this section asks you to identify the word that is most similar in meaning to a given word. The second type asks you to identify the word that is most opposite in meaning to a given word.

  • Every word tested in the Spelling and Vocabulary Sections is listed in the Police Officer Preparation Test Guide šŸ˜‰!

3. Reading Comprehension: This section has written passages followed by questions about each passage.

4. Map Reading: This section has several maps followed by questions about each map.

Download the Police Officer MC Prep Guide (PDF)(PDF, 772KB) or have one mailed to you by emailing our offices at

Phase Two: Situational Response Assessment

The Situational Response Assessment (SRA) is designed to assess your ability to handle situations that require interacting with other people such as citizens, supervisors, subordinates, co-workers, etc.

The SRA is a video-based exam consisting of six test scenarios. Each scenario features a situation commonly encountered by police officers.

Watch this video to see a practice scenario.

Your video-recorded responses will be evaluated on your situational awareness, social intelligence and problem resolution skills demonstrated in your responses to each situation.

Download the Police Officer SRA Prep Booklet (PDF)(PDF, 507KB) or have one mailed to you by emailing our offices at

Earned Preference Points

Secondary Language Fluency Earned Points

Additional credit on the SRA may be available for proficiency in one or more pre-designated languages.
 Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 205KB) 

Certified / Lateral Applicants

Submit your law enforcement certification that is equivalent to the Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Certificate to bypass taking both phases of the Police Officer Exam.

Veterans' Preference

If you served in the United States Military and can provide acceptable documentation of your service, you may be eligible for the addition of extra points to your passing exam score.
 Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 734KB)


To request a testing accommodation, please find the appropriate form in our "Public Forms" section. Accommodations are given on a case-by-case basis determined by staff's ability to accommodate while maintaining test integrity.

Accommodation requests should be completed immediately after you file your application or as soon as you know an accommodation is needed.

Examples of accommodations:

  • Military Accommodation: You are on a military assignment that does not allow you to test on the assigned test date. Complete the non-ADA accommodation form. Include your orders to serve in the military that cover the test dates. Depending on the circumstances, the result could be taking the exam on another day or taking the exam remotely with the assistance of a military test proctor.


  • Disability Accommodation: You have a disability that impacts your ability to test. Complete the ADA Part 1 and Part 2 forms. Part 1 documents your qualifying disability and once approved by the City, does not need completed again. Part 2 is your requested accommodation and needs to be completed for each exam. Depending on the circumstances, the result could be an alternate test date in a smaller room, extended time, a reader (not available for exams where reading comprehension is assessed), or verbal instructions provided in writing (not available for exams where listening skill is assessed).


  • English is a Second Language Accommodation: English is not your first language and you need more time to review written test information expressed in English. Complete the non-ADA accommodation form. The result could be more allowable response time for exam sections that are not response-time sensitive.

Personal History Statement

After you pass the first phase of the exam, you will be contacted via email about completing a Personal History Statement (PHS). Instructions regarding the PHS will be provided with the email. 

The PHS is a vital piece of your background investigation. The PHS asks for your current and previous addresses and telephone numbers for you and your family members. The PHS asks for employment, military and any criminal history. Include complete names, addresses and dates. The completeness and accuracy of the information you provide will be verified by means of a polygraph examination. 

The documents listed below must be brought when you meet your investigator  

  • driver's license, birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decrees or annulment decree, etc.
  • high school diploma and transcript of grades, G.E.D. certificate and college diploma and transcripts, copies of state of Ohio certifications
  • military documents, DD-214, discharge certificate, copies of awards, etc.
  • proof of automobile insurance

Retest Policy

You can test up to two times in a calendar year.

Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 125KB)

Milestone 3: Eligible List


When you pass the Police Officer Test and submit your PHS, you will be placed on a list of eligible candidates for hire by the Division of Police. However, you need to pass the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) physical fitness test (PFT) and successfully pass the background investigation. 


The Police Academy and Recruitment Department for the Columbus Division of Police have created the following video to explain the OPOTC benchmarks..

To become a peace officer in the state of Ohio, you must satisfy OPOTC requirements. To enter a peace officer academy in Ohio, you must meet physical fitness benchmarks within 150 days before the academy start date. Fitness requirements are based on age and gender.

Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 1MB) 

Background Investigation

During the background investigation, you will meet your background investigator and participate in a polygraph exam.

Background Investigator

Handprint You will meet your background investigator. They will review your PHS and ensure everything is accurate and complete. You will participate in a pre-interview with your background investigator, where fingerprints and pictures including exposed tattoos will be taken; waivers will be completed to assist in an extensive background investigation.

Polygraph Exam


You will be given a polygraph examination to verify the accuracy and completeness of all the information (e.g. PHS, References, and Employment) provided to your Background Investigator.

Background Removal Standards

The background removal standards are an objective list of disqualifying background characteristics for which police officer candidates will be removed from consideration. 

Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 197KB)

The CSC conducted a comprehensive review of the City’s background standards for police officers and gained community input to set these standards.

The background investigation is designed to identify candidates who meet a removal standard. When a candidate meets a removal standard, the background investigator formally requests the CSC remove the candidate from the eligible list.

Tattoo Policy

You are expected to meet the Division of Police's tattoo policy at the time of hire. Typically, the Division will not recommend an offer of employment unless you meet the following professional appearance directives.

Directive 11.01- Professional Appearance

  • Shall have no visible tattoos on the head, neck, or hands.
  • Shall have no tattoos (visible or not visible) that depict obscene or gang-related images or extremist or otherwise offensive images which may bring the Division into disrepute.
  • No visible body modifications or gauges shall be permitted.
  • No visible piercings with jewelry (other than the ears) shall be permitted.


Milestone 4: Referral List

After you pass the OPOTC PFT and the background investigation, then you may be considered for hire by the Public Safety Director (PSD). The CSC places you on a referral list and your background investigation packet is reviewed through the chain of command. The chain of command makes recommendations for hire to the Public Safety Director. The Public Safety Director sends selected candidates a conditional offer of employment.

Milestone 5: Conditional Offer

Medical Test.jpg

When you receive a conditional offer, you will be scheduled for a medical and psychological exam with the City’s medical providers.

Medical Exam

You must meet the medical standards. The City’s medical provider will assess your overall physical health. They will verify that you have the physical health to perform the requirements of the job.  

The "Learn More" button provides a list of common medicalā€related issues that cause removal from consideration or require you to wait until the medicalā€related issue is resolved.

Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 182KB)

The medical exam includes a treadmill stress test. Know what to expect during the stress test by watching this video.

Stress Test Example (Video)

Get tips on how to prepare for the stress test to improve your VO2.

Learn More (PDF)(PDF, 182KB)

Psychological Exam

Job Interview.png

The City’s licensed provider conducts the psychological exams. This psychological exam consists of three independent exams interpreted by licensed professionals. The exams are written or completed on a computer. Sometimes these written exams are administered in a group setting. Later, you will meet one-on-one with a licensed psychologist. The written exams and the one-on-one meeting can be conducted on the same day, but typically are handled in two sessions.

Milestone 6: Final Offer

Police Cars and Fireworks

Once you clear your medical exams, you will be given a final offer of employment with an academy start date. You will complete your new-hire paperwork. Before your first day, you and your family will have an opportunity to learn more about the training program, the training academy and the job.

Milestone 7: Training Academy

Columbus Police Training Academy

The City of Columbus hosts three entry-level police officer training academies each year. During this training, you will receive over 1,200 hours of training over 31-weeks.  You will learn patrol operations, law and legal procedures, applied behavioral science, criminal investigation, and more. Your training will include human relations, physical fitness, defensive tactics, driving maneuvers and firearms. The program equips you with the tools needed to become an exceptional law enforcement officer.

Milestone 8: Swear in!


After success in the Training Academy, you will be sworn in as a peace officer in the State of Ohio.

You will then participate in field training. During this time, you will be assigned to various Police Officers, known as Field Training Officers (FTOs). The FTOs will coach you through routine and non-routine encounters through the course of your shifts.

You will serve a one-year probationary period after graduation from the training academy.