British Columbians who are interested in becoming police officers can join the federal police force or the municipal police force. Both options present opportunities for a fulfilling career.
Some regions in B.C. have municipal police agencies while others use the RCMP. Whether you choose to serve, protect, educate, and prevent crime in B.C. with a municipal or federal police force, you will find key information in this article that will guide you on how to become a police officer.
Job Outlook for B.C. Police Officers
Currently, police officers in B.C. are considered to be a high opportunity occupation. According to the B.C. Labour Market Outlook, there is an expected employment growth rate of 0.6% from 2019-2024 and over 3000 job openings forecasted up to 2022.
WorkBC states that 86.1% of those job opportunities will be made available due to current police officers retiring and 13.9% are due to economic growth.
Top 3 Regions in BC
In B.C., the top three regions with the highest number of expected job openings are: Mainland/Southwest, Vancouver Island/Coast and Thompson-Okanagan.
In this region, the average annual employment growth between 2019-2029 is 0.5%. The expected number of job openings in that time period is 2110.
In this region, the average annual employment growth between 2019-2029 is 0.2%. The expected number of job openings in that time period is 360.
In this region, the average annual employment growth between 2019-2029 is 0.5%. The expected number of job openings in that time period is 300.
Minimum Requirements for B.C. Police Officer Applicants
Before you apply, check to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements. The following list of application requirements applies to most police agencies in British Columbia:
- Minimum 19 years of age
- Good driving record
- Be in excellent health
- Have good character
- Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Canadian high school diploma or equivalent
- Valid current standard first aid / CPR “C” certification
- Valid BC Class 5 driver’s license without any restrictions
- No criminal convictions and no criminal charges pending
- Meet the necessary level of physical abilities, vision standards, and hearing standards
In addition to the above, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) prefers candidates who meet the following requirements:
- Degree or diploma in any field of study (preferred) or have at least 30 academic post-secondary credits (at minimum)
- Proficiency in a second language
- Volunteer experience in the community
The Victoria Police Department (VICPD) adds the following to their list of requirements and preferred qualifications:
- If the applicant is a Permanent Resident, they will need to have held that status for a minimum of two years
- Computer skills and demonstrated keyboarding ability required
Those applying for a police career in the Thompson-Okanagan region would apply to the RCMP since there is no municipal police force in that area. RCMP applicants need to meet the following additional requirements:
- Permanent resident applicants need to have resided in Canada for the last 10 years
- Be able to spend 26 weeks at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan
- Not have any tattoos that “depict or incite hate, harassment, or discrimination against individuals on the basis of the grounds listed in Canadian Human Rights Act, section 3.”
- Not wear any personal effects on the body that may interfere with the personal protective equipment
- Be willing to relocate anywhere within Canada
Police Officer Salaries in B.C.
The annual provincial median salary for police officers in B.C. is $83,200. The provincial hourly rate ranges from $26.45-$54.00/hr with a median hourly wage of $40.00/hr.
Let’s take a look at the salaries in the top three regions with the highest number of expected job openings.
The starting salary at the Vancouver Police Department is $70,154/year with an incremental increase to $90,198 after 3 years. Paid vacation, medical and dental benefits, and a BC Municipal Pension Plan membership is included in benefits at this police force.
The starting salary at the Victoria Police Department is $70,158/year. By the third year, the annual salary increases to $80,180. Benefits include subsidies for continuing education, basic and extended health plans, dental and vision care, Group Life Insurance, and maternity and parental leave.
In Thompson-Okanagan, the starting salary on the federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is $53,144/year. By the third year, you can expect to earn $86,110. Benefits include medical, dental, and family health plans, group life insurance, continuing education subsidies, and maternity and parental allowance.
Note: The police officer salary at the RCMP is significantly lower than the municipal standard.
B.C. Police Officer Application Process
Police agencies in B.C., and across Canada, generally follow a standard process which involves a series of interviews, tests, and checks, including:
- Screening interviews, panel interviews, Human Resources interview, Inspector’s interview
- A background investigation
- Physical exams
- Written intake exam
- A polygraph exam
- Occupational health assessment
- A psychological exam
- Medical exams
At most police agencies, applicants can be declined at any stage in the application process. Even if all stages are passed, an offer of employment is not guaranteed. The most suitable candidates in the application pool are selected amongst those who pass every stage.
Once you have been selected, you advance to recruit training. Recruit training is essentially a conditional offer of employment. Recruits need to pass this program in order to become a police officer.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Police Officer in B.C.?
A lengthy application process takes place between the moment you apply and the day you become an official police officer in B.C. Although the duration varies between police agencies, you can expect to set aside 6 months for the application process.
The RCMP and the VICPD do not provide a set duration for their application processes, although the RCMP shares that their cadet training takes 26 weeks. At the VPD, it can take up to 44 weeks to complete the recruit training.
To find out how long it takes at the police agency of your choice, contact the police agency directly.
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