How to become a police officer in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
CMPD recruiting

It’s a tough road, but worth the effort.

Working in law enforcement within one of the country’s safest and fastest growing major cities is a rewarding and challenging career brimming with benefits, from the satisfaction of helping everyday people to the security of a strong retirement plan. The path to wearing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) badge is a rigorous, demanding, and detailed journey. Here’s what it takes:

Decide how to apply. Are you a…?  

  • Traditional recruit — Individuals who have no prior law enforcement background.
  • Lateral entry — Pathway open to in-state and out-of-state, certified, sworn police officers.
  • Intermediate entry — Process for those with a North Carolina Law Enforcement Certification or those who are completing, or have completed, the North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) course within the last 12 months.
  • Military entry — Designed for military personnel ready to start a new, service-based career. Our program makes it easy to apply as a trainee before leaving your current military assignment.

Know the basics.

All police recruits must be United States citizens, at least 20 years of age, and hold a high school diploma/GED. From there, it's a bit of common sense — no felonies or serious misdemeanors, no Driving While Impaired (DWI) offenses in the past five years, and you must pass basic written and physical abilities tests. Also, you must be capable of wearing a gas mask, passing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration fit test, and possess a valid driver's license.  Facial hair and tattoos require special attention. No beards are permitted and, while certain tattoos are allowed, there are guidelines to follow while you are at work. See all the details here.

Get ready to pull out the paperwork.

Once you've passed the entry-level written examination and Jobs Related Physical Ability Test (JRPAT), you will receive a background packet via email to complete. Our organization requires 16 different legal documents, depending on your situation. Details include providing a criminal record check from every county you have lived in since age 16. Gathering this paperwork is critical to speeding up the process and making it to the finish line, so get started early! Click here for a full list of requirements.

Take a look at this amazing diagram.

The application process to be accepted into the police academy usually takes between eight and 16 weeks. This intensive initial experience includes physical and mental evaluations, background checks and in-person interviews.  Details are outlined on the City of Charlotte website here.

Tell me about the police academy.

It's here where you learn the laws and fundamentals of police work. This exciting career starts by undergoing 25 weeks of practical and classroom training, during which you will be a paid employee of the City of Charlotte. The BLET course load prepares you for the physical requirements, trains you in the legal processes, and coaches you through the ethical issues faced as a police officer. More than learning how to operate a firearm, or arrest a suspect, BLET explores the real-world complexities of modern policing before you advance to additional field training within one of our 13 CMPD patrol divisions.

How do I apply to become a police officer?

The simplest way is online at the City of Charlotte Job Openings website. Candidates may also apply in person at the City of Charlotte Human Resources Department lobby, 700 E. Fourth St., Suite 200, in Charlotte. Our hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, excluding official city holidays.

How do I know I'm a good candidate?

Would you prefer to be outside rather than at a desk? Do you enjoy daily physical activity? Are you comfortable bending, lifting, reaching, as part of your daily work? Is it important for your job to change each day, maybe even lean towards exciting or challenging? Do you believe in keeping citizens safe and making your community a better place to live?

If these characteristics describe you, then you might just be the right person for this job.

Police work is more than patrolling streets. It's about diffusing tense confrontations and communicating with different people. It's quick thinking in challenging situations. Its long-term problem solving and big, real-world dilemmas.  But most importantly, police work at CMPD is about serving the community and building relationships one citizen interaction at a time!