How to Become a Correctional Officer in California


Seeking employment with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can be challenging; however, can lead to a long-lasting and rewarding career. Take a few simple steps to help prepare yourself for the various exams and physical tests to help you begin a lifetime career in law enforcement.

Things You'll Need

  • GED / Diploma
  • 21 years or older
  • Pass Several Exams
  • Good Physical Shape
  • Patience
  • Desire for Law Enforcement
  • Written Exam: The initial written exam consists of questions about math and English. The test is written for a fourth grade reading level and encompasses basic math, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation. A sample test can be found at

  • Physical Abilities Test: The P.A.T. consists of a vision exam and a cardiac risk assessment (questionnaire) followed by a series of five exercise tests. The tests consist of: an endurance-based bicycle test that allows monitoring of your heart rhythm and blood pressure during strenuous activity, a grip strength test, an ab and back strength test, an upper body strength test and a short-distance sprint bicycle test.

  • Written Psychological Evaluation: This exam is a series of more than 800 questions that determine patterns of mental thought and processes. This exam allows CDCR to determine what questions need to be addressed during a face-to-face interview with a psychologist.

  • Background Investigation: The Background investigation requires approximately three months time upon the start of the investigation. A peace officer will evaluate your academic, driving, personal and work history to determine whether or not you are eligible to continue in the peace officer selection process. This helps ensure that individuals who have a criminal past, are unreliable or unsuited for a peace office position are not selected to be a correctional officer.

  • Psychological Evaluation: Each candidate who passes the background investigation must undergo a psychological evaluation with a psychologist. This interview helps CDCR psychologists determine whether or not a person is mentally capable of a stressful job in the prison system.

  • Pre-Employment Medical Exam: The final step is to complete more extensive physical tests including hearing, vision, mobility and general health conditions. The job of Correctional Officer is very strenuous and it is the job of Pre-Employment Medical to determine whether or not any health factors may impede your ability to protect the community and yourself efficiently.

  • Peace Officer's Academy: Upon completion of all requirements, candidates must attend academy. This is a 16 week course that tests a candidate's overall physical, mental and emotional ability to do the job.

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