Choosing a new career (especially when you’re new to the country), can be an overwhelming process. Opportunities are endless in a country like Canada. It’s not easy figuring out which direction to take in the first place.
Canadian Business helps you narrow down your options with a list of “The Top 25 Jobs in Canada”. We’re here to help you break down #14 on that list: police officer.
According to the Employment and Social Development Canada, Canadian Business reports the projected demand for police officers in 2022 to be one of “balanced opportunity”. In other words, there will likely be just as many jobs available as there are job seekers.
If you’re interested in becoming a police officer, this article will help you map out your career path.
Minimum Requirements for Police Officer Applicants
Prior to the application process, potential candidates need to meet the minimum requirements. The following list of application requirements applies to most police agencies in Canada:
- Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
- Be proficient in the English and/or French languages
- Have a Canadian high school diploma or equivalent
- Be in good health
- Meet the vision standards, hearing standards, and necessary level of physical abilities
- Have good character
- Have no criminal convictions (you may apply if you have a pardon) and no criminal charges pending
- First Aid-CPR
- Class 5 drivers licence (non GDL) with no more than five demerit points
In addition to the above list, each police service adds its own list of requirements.
Those applying for the RCMP need to meet the following additional requirements:
- Permanent resident applicants need to have resided in Canada for the last 10 years
- Be at least 19 years old
- Possess a valid, unrestricted driver's license
- Be able to spend 26 weeks at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan
- Be willing to relocate anywhere within Canada
- 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
Vancouver Police Department
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) asks that their applicants meet the following additional requirements:
- Have a valid BC Class 5 driver’s license without any restrictions
- Good driving record
- Valid current standard first aid / CPR “C” certification
- Have an additional 30 academic post-secondary credits, at minimum
The VPD also mentions that they prefer candidates who:
- Have a degree or diploma in any field of study
- Are proficient in a second language
- Have volunteer experience in the community
Calgary Police Service
The Calgary Police Service asks that their applicants meet the following additional requirements:
- If you’re not a Canadian citizen, have either landed immigrant status or permanent resident status (while having lived in Canada or the United States for three years).
- Have a Class 5 Driver’s license with a maximum of five demerit points
- Have been discharged from a bankruptcy for at least a year
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have current certification in standard first aid and CPR
Click here to assess if you are ready to pursue a career at the Calgary Police Service.
Toronto Police Service
The Toronto Police Service has the following additional requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license with full driving privileges and a maximum of six demerit points.
- Have current certification in CPR and first aid
To further increase your chances of qualifying, review this list of potential disqualifiers that could stand in the way of your policing career.
The Application Process for Police Officer Candidates
It isn’t easy becoming a police officer. Potential candidates need to go through a stringent application process designed to weed out those who don’t have what it takes to become outstanding police officers.
Police officers help maintain peace and order and ensure that members of the community stay safe. This job comes with immense responsibility. The application process itself is not for everyone.
Canadian police agencies generally follow the same process, which involves a series of tests, checks, and interviews, including:
- Applicant disclosure submission
- A written exam
- Physical exams
- A psychological exam
- Medical exams
- A polygraph exam
- A background investigation
- One-on-one interview
- Panel interview utilizing behavioral descriptive interview process. Past behaviour dictates future behaviour (Provide an example of when you…)
In these interviews, most police agencies are looking for the following:
- Adaptability / Decisiveness
- Initiative / Perseverance
- Interpersonal Skills
- Stress Management
- Valuing Service and Diversity
Some of these tests require detailed paperwork but minimal preparation. For some tests, like the physical tests, you would be best prepared if you did a prior fitness training program, depending on your fitness level. Other tests, like the polygraph exam, require no preparation at all.
Applicants can be declined at any point in the stages listed above. Even if a candidate passes every stage, an offer of employment is not guaranteed. If deception or omission is detected at any point, the candidate will be removed from the applicant process.
Once you have completed all assessments, your entire application package is reviewed and measured against other applicants to determine the most suitable candidates for the role as a police officer.
If you are recruited, you can expect a conditional offer of employment that allows you to advance to the final step before you become a police officer: recruit training. Typically, the recruit training is 6 months long in duration and focuses on the following:
- Criminal Law
- Traffic Law
- Driver Training
- Firearms Instructions
- Subject Control Techniques
- Physical Fitness Training
- Drill Instruction
The training programs are strenuous, both physically and mentally. It’s a good idea to start preparing for police academy training as far in advance as possible.
These programs are meant to prepare you to begin your career in policing by providing you with the necessary skills and tools that you need on the job. Trainees need to meet a set standard to graduate from training and complete this final step in the process.
How Long Does It Take to Become A Police Officer?
The process of becoming a police officer requires a significant investment of your time. The duration varies and depends on how quickly and accurately an individual completes the forms and assessments. This also depends on the police agency you apply at.
The CPS states that their process takes between 3-6 months to complete. The RCMP doesn’t provide a set duration for the entire process; their cadet training takes 26 weeks. At the VPD, the recruit training alone takes up to 44 weeks in total.
Generally, you can expect to set aside 6 months for your application process. We recommend that you contact the police agency that you’re interested in, in order to find out how long their process takes from start to finish.
Canadian Police Officer Salary & Benefits
Assessing wages is an essential step in determining whether a career is the right fit for you and your family. If you’re wondering how much a police officer makes in Canada, the median salary in Canada for a police officer was $87,859 in 2019 with a 17% projected 5-year wage growth.
Federal Police Force Salary & Benefits
If you’re interested in the federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) offers new hires $53,144/year with an incremental increase to $86,110 within 3 years of employment. Benefits include paid vacation days, an RCMP pension plan, medical, dental and family health plans, and group life insurance. The RCMP also offers generous maternity and parental allowances, as well as financial support for continuing education and professional development opportunities.
Municipal Police Force Salaries & Benefits
In comparison to the federal police force, the municipal police agencies offer slightly higher salaries.
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) offers a starting salary of approximately $66,000/year.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) offers new hires $70,154/year with an incremental increase to $90,198 after 3 years. Benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental benefits, and a BC Municipal Pension Plan membership.
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has a starting salary of $63,564.98 for their cadets. After year 3, police officers receive an annual salary of $90,836. Benefits include paid vacation, family medical and dental benefits, life insurance, pension plan, parental/maternity leave, and more.
Considering that the median income for individual Canadians was $36,400 in 2018, according to Statistics Canada, the starting salary for a Canadian police officer is an attractive one.
When deciding between the federal or municipal level, keep in mind that while the RCMP might have a lower salary, the role involves police duties at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels, with a much wider variety in operational and administrative opportunities. Some specializations that are unique to the RCMP are: Integrated Border Enforcement Team, National Security, Marine Services, International Peace Operations and many, many more.
This decision should be based on your personal career goals and values. If career growth, variety, and adventure are of high value to you, you might want to consider joining the RCMP despite the lower salary.
From Security Guard to Police Officer
While there are a fair number of employment opportunities, as you have seen in the information presented in this article, policy agencies hire only the most suitable candidates. Therefore, it is important to know what to do so that you can ensure your application stands out from the rest.
Police agency recruiters advise applicants to significantly improve their chances of being selected through:
1. Private Security Jobs: Security jobs provide a work experience that prepares you for your role as a police officer. The skills you learn, the duties involved, the situations you encounter, as well as the opportunities to work alongside law enforcement officers, all provide well-rounded preparation for your future role as a police officer.
2. Awards: Awards that recognize your ability to be a top performer (i.e. scholarships, employee awards, etc.) are a strong indicator of work ethic.
3. Volunteer Experience & Community Involvement: Contributing your time to an organization that does meaningful work, demonstrates good character. Be an active member of your community to show that participating and serving your community is important to you.
4. Training & Education: While a degree in criminology would help, you don’t necessarily need post-secondary education. Relevant training and education can include training that you receive on the job as a security officer. Unlike the time and financial investment involved in post-secondary education, you can get paid while you learn with a job as a security guard. Commitment to lifelong learning is a key component.
Across Canada, over 20% of former Paladin Security Officers move on to pursue careers with local law enforcement and police agencies. Their job at Paladin Security equipped them to stand out from the applicant pool and land their dream jobs thanks to Paladin’s opportunities for performance-based awards, relevant training, and work experience.
Prepare for your policing career with Paladin Security, Canada’s highest paying and most reputable security company.