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Correctional Peace Officer Careers
Frequently Asked Questions


APPLICATION PROCESS

TESTING PROCESS

WRITTEN EXAM

PHYSICAL FITNESS (PFT) TESTING

PERSONAL HISTORY STATEMENT (PHS)

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION

PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION

APPEAL PROCESS

COMPLETING THE PROCESS

THE ACADEMY

PROMOTIONS WITHIN PEACE OFFICER


APPLICATION PROCESS

When can I apply for a Correctional Officer with CDCR?

Applications for Correctional Officer (CO) are accepted on a continuous basis. For more information on how to apply please visit our website at www.joincdcr.com. Please review all the minimum qualifications to determine if you qualify for the position you are applying for.

Minimum qualifications include:

  • High School Diploma
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • At least 20 years of age to apply; must be 21 at time of appointment.
  • Pass a drug test screening
  • Provide history of law-abiding behavior
  • Legally able to own, possess and have custody of a firearm or other weapons authorized by CDCR.

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When can I apply for a Youth Correctional Counselor and Youth Correctional Officer position with CDCR?

Applications for the Youth Correctional Officer (YCO) and Youth Correctional Counselor (YCC) are not accepted on a continuous basis. CDCR will be accepting applications for the YCO and the YCC on a quarterly basis (approximately every 90 days). To be notified by email when we are again accepting applications for Youth Correctional Counselor and Youth Correctional Officer, please sign up for E-Notification located under Peace Officer Career Opportunities at www.joincdcr.com

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How can I apply for Veteran’s Preference?

To apply for Veteran’s Preference please visit the California Human Resources’ website at: http://jobs.ca.gov/job/VeteransInformation. You will be required to complete the SPB1093 request form and submit it along with a COPY of your DD214 Report of Separation to https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records. If you have any questions about applying for Veterans's Preference please call CalHR at (916) 324-0455. Once you have received notification from CalHR awarding you Veteran's Preference, you myst send a copy of the award notification to our office by:

  • Mail: Office of Peace Officer Selection
  • ATTN: Testing Unit
    1000 Goethe Road, Suite B
    Sacramento, CA 95827

  • Fax: 916-255-0530

  • Email: CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov

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Can you send me a Correctional Officer application?

The application for Correctional Officer is an online process. Please visit our website at www.joincdcr.com for information on how to apply online. An application submitted in any other method will not be accepted.

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Whom may I contact if I have a question about the application?

Please contact our Customer Service Team at (866) 232-5627 or via email at CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, excluding State holidays. You may also contact your local testing center below:

Northern Selection Center
(916) 255-1025 (Sacramento)

Central Selection Center
(559) 445-6141 (Fresno)

Southern Selection Center
(909) 944-6697 (Rancho Cucamonga)

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What if I require reasonable accommodation?

Please contact your regional testing center to work with the testing manager to obtain the required documentation for reasonable accommodation.The phone numbers to regional testing centers are listed below.

Northern Selection Center
(916) 255-1025 (Sacramento)

Central Selection Center
(559) 445-6141 (Fresno)

Southern Selection Center
(909) 944-6697 (Rancho Cucamonga)

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I have not received my email?

Make sure your email is up to date and that CDCR.CA.GOV is on your safe sender’s list so that emails from CDCR are not directed to your “junk” and “spam” mail. 

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What if I encounter computer problems with any of the forms/information I am submitting?

It really depends on what the specific computer problem is. Make sure you follow the directions carefully. Some forms, cannot be submitted until the entire form is filled out in the correct format. Warning messages may pop up. Should you get a warning message, it is imperative that you follow the instructions outlined in the warning message in order to proceed. If you are experiencing issues with submitting an application online, please provide the information below to our Selection Support Section via email at Selection Support:

  • Full Name
  • Tracking Number (if applicable)
  • Date of Birth
  • Error Message (if possible)
  • Contact Information

If you are experiencing issues submitting a form to us, please contact us at (866) 232-5627.

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Does my application expire?

No, your application does not expire but your eligibility list life is valid for only 24 months from the date you have passed your written examination.

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If my eyesight has been surgically corrected, will I be eligible to go through the selection process?

If it has been less than 6 months from the date of your refractive eye surgery, do not apply as you will be disqualified. If it has been over 6 months from the date of your refractive eye surgery you can apply; however, you must complete the Peace Officer Vision Verification form (OPOS 07C) and bring the completed form to your Vision Test. Failure to provide the completed form at the Vision Test may result in disqualification.

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Why does the hiring process take so long?

Civil Service law requires that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administer competitive examinations for all qualified applicants based on each applicant’s education, work and legal history. California Government Code Section 1031 and Penal Code Section 13601 outline additional requirements for peace officers, where candidates must pass drug screenings, physical tests, psychological exams, and medical exams, and thorough background investigations before being hired. All of these steps take time. Please click Selection Components for more information.

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After I have finished the selection process, what is the next step?

After you have completed all selection components your name will be placed on the certification list. Offers of employment are made by score order to candidates whose name appears on the certification list.

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I am finished with the selection / testing process, what is the next step?

Your name will be placed on the eligible list. Offers of employment are made by score order to candidates whose name appears on the eligible list.

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Can I choose the prison (Institution) that I want to work at?

Candidates are given offers for employment at the Institution(s) with the greatest hiring need. Whenever possible, candidates are assigned to Institutions closest to where they reside.

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Can I transfer to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation directly from a police or sheriff's department?

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not accept direct "lateral" transfers from other law enforcement agencies. However, having prior law enforcement experience may be helpful as candidates go through the selection process.

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How will OPOS contact me about scheduling appointments, additional information needed and Academy offers, etc.?

Candidates are required to have a personal email account. All notification from the Office of Peace Officer Selection will be sent to your email address. This includes appointments for any of the selection components. Please ensure to add cdcr.ca.gov to your safe senders list. If you do not have access to an email account, you may visit any public library and establish a free email account from Yahoo, Google or any other email system.

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Whom do I notify if I move, change my telephone number, etc.?

To make changes to your contact information, please fill out the Change of Information (OPOS 30A) form and email it to our Customer Service inbox: CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov. You will need to save a copy of the form to your desktop first and then send it as an attachment. Be sure to include your name and ID number. The Change of Information form can also be mailed to:

  • Mail: Office of Peace Officer Selection.
  • ATTN: Testing Unit
    1000 Goethe Road, Suite C
    Sacramento, CA 95827

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Does OPOS conduct the Parole Agent and Youth Authority Exams?

No, the Office of Peace Officer Selection does not provide the Parole Agent or Youth Authority exam. You may contact the Office of Workforce Planning for further assistance and questions. The number is (916) 322-2545.

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TESTING PROCESS

Once I have applied, what happens next?

Once you have applied you will receive an email notification within 7-10 business days. This email will contain candidate login information to access the PASS website. Please continue to be patient and regularly monitor your emails.

If you need additional assistance or have further questions, please contact our customer service team at CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov or call your regional testing center.

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How long does the process take? What are the steps?

The process varies from candidate to candidate; however, it is common for the entire process to take approximately twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months. The selection process consists of five (5) main components as follows: The Written Examination; Physical Fitness Test, Background Investigation Pre-Employment Medical Physical; and a Psychological interview. All of the main components have smaller elements within them. Please click Selection Components for more information.

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Where will I have to go for the testing?

Testing sites are held in three different regions of California; Northern (Sacramento), Central (Fresno), and Southern (Rancho Cucamonga). Candidates are notified via email of their testing date and location. Candidates will be scheduled to take the Written Exam at the nearest testing center to their residence. Candidates need to ensure they read their email notice completely and entirely to know what items they need to bring and know what is permitted or what clothing is permitted at their respective testing location.

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Is there an accelerated testing process for candidates in the military or who are from out of state?

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not offer accelerated testing to accommodate one group of candidates over another. However, out of state candidates do complete the written examination and the physical fitness test within a two-day period to cut down on the amount of trips to the testing center.

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What if I am unable to make my test date due to my military obligation?

If you are unable to test do to Active Military orders, or if a candidate is deployed, candidates must submit official documentation supporting their military obligation before an update can take place. Candidates can submit documentation by:

  • USPS Mail: Office of Peace Officer Selection
  • ATTN: Testing Unit
    1000 Goethe Road, Suite B
    Sacramento, CA 95827

  • Fax: 916-255-0530

  • Email: CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov

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What is the difference between withdrawing from the process and being eliminated?

Withdrawing from the selection process is by choice and is requested by the applicant after completing and submitting a Request to Withdraw form. If an applicant becomes interested in applying for the same Correctional Peace Officer classification within CDCR at a later time, he/she must submit a new application and start the selection process over. Applicants who submit a ‘Request to Withdraw’ do not have to wait twelve (12) months to reapply for the examination. If you wish to withdraw your application, please email the ‘Request to Withdraw’ form to CustomerService.OPOS@cdcr.ca.gov.

Elimination during the testing process may occur for any number of reasons varying from missing a testing date to a disqualification after a failed exam. Elimination is not by an applicant’s choice; however, when it does occur, applicants have to wait twelve (12) months from the elimination date to reapply for the same Correctional Peace Officer classification.

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WRITTEN EXAM

How can I prepare for the Written Exam? What can I study?

The best way to prepare for the Written Examination is to view the CO/YCO/YCC Sample Test that can be found on our website. Although the questions are different, candidates can gain a sense of what analytical skills will be expected of them, as well as an idea of certain scenarios Correctional Peace Officers encounter on a daily basis.

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Can I reschedule my Written Exam? How do I do this?

The reschedule policy allows candidates to be rescheduled for the Written Examination or the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) by logging into their account on the Peace Officer Application and Scheduling System (PASS), provided they self-reschedule at least five (5) days before their scheduled test date. If a candidate elects to reschedule within the five (5) day period before their scheduled test date, he or she must contact their Regional Testing Center (RTC) on or before their scheduled test date to reschedule. If the candidate contacts their RTC the day after the scheduled test date or later, the candidate will be designated as a No Show, and may reapply after 12 months from the scheduled test date.

Reschedule exceptions include:

  • Documented emergencies (car accident, hospitalization, family death etc.)
  • Military Orders
  • Candidates that were not notified of appointment

How do I find access to my PASS account?

You will have the ability to make changes to your scheduled test up to 5 days prior by logging onto your account. In order to retrieve your log in information please refer to the previous email you received for you scheduled Written Exam. The email will contain both your User Name and Password.

(Candidate Sample Log In)

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If there is an emergency that prevents me from taking the exam, whom do I contact?

Applicants who encounter a serious emergency situation will not be disqualified. However, applicants must call the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS) Customer Service Unit within five business days of the NO SHOW date at (866) 232-5627. Applicants should be prepared to advise OPOS staff what has occurred and a substantiating reason the applicant cannot make it to their scheduled examination. The candidate will be requested to provide substantiated written documentation within 10 business days of the contact to verify the reason for the missed appointment. If these required steps are not taken, the Applicant will be eliminated.

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How soon will Applicants know their examination results?

Applicants will receive examination results within 1-3 business days via email. Candidates should check their email frequently as this is our main method of communication.

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What happens if an Applicant does not pass their examination?

Applicants may reapply twelve (12) months from the date of their disqualification.

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PHYSICAL FITNESS (PFT) TESTING

How can I prepare for the Physical Fitness Test (PFT)?

Applicants are encouraged to engage in a physical fitness program designed to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. Watch and review the Sample PFT Video.

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What is the location of the PFT?

The PFTs are held in three regions of California, Northern, Central, and Southern applicants are notified of their PFT testing location via email. Applicants will be scheduled to take their PFT in the same region they took their Written Examination. See map to Testing Locations.

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What do I need to wear/bring for the testing?

For the PFT, candidates must dress in athletic workout attire and be ready to participate in physical activity. Candidates need to have a valid form of ID and bring any required documents mentioned in the scheduling notification.

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Can I reschedule my Physical Fitness Test (PFT)?

The reschedule policy allows candidates to be rescheduled for the Written Examination and the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) by logging into their account on the Peace Officer Application and Scheduling System (PASS), provided they self-reschedule at least five (5) days before their scheduled test date. If a candidate elects to reschedule within the five (5) day period before their scheduled test date, he or she must contact their Regional Testing Center (RTC) on or before the scheduled test date to reschedule.  If the candidate contacts their RTC the day after the scheduled test date or later, the candidate will be designated as a No Show, and may reapply after 12 months from the scheduled test date.

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If there is an emergency that prevents me from taking the PFT, who do I contact?

Applicants who encounter a serious emergency situation will not be disqualified. However, Applicants must call the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS) Customer Service Unit within five business days of the NO SHOW date at (866) 232-5627, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Applicants should be prepared to advise OPOS staff what has occurred and the reason the applicant cannot make it to their scheduled examination. The candidate will be notified to provide written documentation within 10 business days of the contact to verify the reason for the missed appointment. If these required steps are not taken, the Applicant will be eliminated.

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What happens if I fail a portion of the test?

If an Applicant does not pass any segment of their testing, they will be disqualified. The Applicant may reapply for the Correctional PeaceOfficer examination in question no sooner than twelve (12) months from the date of disqualification.

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PERSONAL HISTORY STATEMENT (PHS)

What do I need to bring for my Pre-Investigatory Interview?

Applicants must bring a valid form of identification. Applicants are required to wear business attire and are encouraged to bring in a copy of their PHS. What documents need to be included with the PHS?

The following documents are required to be included with the PHS:

  • Certified United States Birth Certificate or Original Naturalization Certificate
  • Documents reflecting any name changes from your Birth Certificate. This includes marriage certificates, divorce decrees, court adoption documents, etc.
  • Certified and Sealed High School Transcripts or Certified proof of GED or passing California High School Proficiency exam
  • Certified and Sealed College Transcripts from any colleges or universities attended.
  • DD214 Military Discharge documents (Member 4, long form) if you served in the Military.
  • Copy of current/valid automobile insurance
  • Current (dated within 30 days of turning in documents) Credit Report from one of the following:
    • Experian
    • Equifax
    • TransUnion
  • Professional License or Credential (if applicable to position)

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What if the PHS is not completed?

The PHS documents must be typed; handwritten documents will not be accepted. Incomplete or handwritten documents will result in the rescheduling of your PFT component. Noncompliance within the 15 Day Notification will result in an applicant being withheld from the process.

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What will exclude candidates from the process?

Applicants are required to disclose any convictions of felony crimes, as well as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. While the existence of history does not automatically disqualify and individual from applying or receiving a job offer, special approval must be granted by the Department Secretary prior to any appointment. Exception: Persons convicted of a felony are not eligible to participate in exams for Peace Officer positions.

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Do PHS documents have to be originals or can they be copies?

Applicants must submit certified documents reflecting their citizenship status (e.g. birth certificate or naturalization form). Transcripts must also be certified originals and remain sealed from the school.

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What if I haven’t received my transcript?

Transcripts are a required document and they must be certified and sealed. In order for Applicants to obtain their transcripts, it is important that he/she contact their high school and/or college registrar. It can take the registrar 24 to 48 hours to process the transcripts, and sometimes several weeks to get to you by mail. It is important that Applicants request these documents as early as possible.

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Will there be a notary on-site at the testing location?

There is no on-site notary available. Applicants must obtain a notary for the release form, page four (4) of PHS.

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Does the testing facility keep the PHS if I fail the examination process?

Yes, upon entering the background investigation process, the testing center will keep all submitted documents.. Every effort will be made to return originals to the Applicant. Naturalization certificates will always be returned. All submitted documents will be returned to candidate, however, if the candidate fails Physical Fitness Test (PFT).

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Does it matter if I don’t have any credit on my credit report?

No, a credit score or the establishment of credit is not a minimum qualification for the entry level peace officer positions. However, each candidate is still required to submit a credit report.

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BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION

How do I find out who my background investigator is?

Once your case is assigned to a background investigator, you will be contacted by that person via e-mail.

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I have been assigned a background investigator, can I contact them?

  • If you have been assigned to a background investigator, you may contact them to update information on employment, any legal issues, major life changes or other background related process issues, but not to check on the status of the investigation unless you have been advised to do so.
  • If you have questions regarding the background process but have not been assigned a background investigator, you may contact the Background Office within your region. Please visit our website at: www.joincdcr.com and see Contact Us, for your specific region.

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Does CDCR consider marijuana an illegal drug?

A 2005 Supreme Court ruling (Gonzales v. Raich) stated those who smoke marijuana based on their doctor’s recommendation can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, overriding any State medical marijuana statutes. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the United States Code Controlled Substances Act and has no accepted medical use under federal law. While the passage of Proposition 64 legalized the adult recreational use of marijuana in California under certain circumstances, the proposition specifically allows for public and private employers to continue enforcing their “workplace policies pertaining to marijuana.” Therefore, any applicant for a state civil service examination for a peace officer class who discloses or whose background investigation reveals use of a drug listed as Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 under the Controlled Substances Act, including synthetic drugs and marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes, may be eliminated from the peace officer selection process.

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Are you notified when you clear Background?

Applicants are notified when they clear background with a clearance letter and will soon be given a date for the next evaluation in their hiring process.

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PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION

What is the Psychological Evaluation Process?

  • Government Code 1031 (f) requires that peace officer applicants be found to be free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer.
  • In order to verify an applicant’s well-being, the Peace Officer Psychological Examination (POPE) is conducted. It contains three parts:
    • Two written personality tests
    • Psychological History Questionnaire
    • An Interview with a Psychologist

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APPEAL PROCESS

Does the candidate have the right to appeal? What is the process?

If you believe a withhold or disqualification action is improper, you may appeal to the State Personnel Board by contacting the Appeals Division, 801 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814. An appeal must state in writing the facts, information or circumstances upon which it is based. Appeals from Withhold from Certification shall be filed with the Appeals Division of the State Personnel Board within 30 days of the date that the Notice of Withhold from Certification is mailed to the Appellant. To ensure prompt response, please include a copy of this letter with your request for appeal. You may telephone the Appeals Division at (916) 653-0799 for additional information.

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COMPLETING THE PROCESS

How long will it take for the entire hiring process?

Generally it takes approximately twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months for the completion of the hiring process, but may take longer depending on process times and institution/facility vacancies.

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THE ACADEMY

How long is the Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA)?

The Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BCOA) is 12 weeks and is located in Galt, CA. If you have further questions about the Academy please call (209) 744-5000 or go to www.cdcr.ca.gov/career_opportunities/por/Cadets.html.

The Basic Correctional Juvenile Academy (BCJA) is 16 weeks long and is located at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Training Academy.

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When I report to the Academy, will I have to buy anything? What do I need to bring? What clothing/gear are needed for the Academy? Can I purchase needed items prior to the Academy? Do I have to stay at the Academy or can I go home?

This information is available in the Cadet Handbook located on our website at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/career_opportunities/por/AcademyFormsB2.html .

This handbook needs to be printed out and brought with you to the Academy on the first day for the registration process.

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Does academy count towards any units if you are a criminal justice major?

Yes, cadets can receive college credit for the BCOA 12 week academy only. The college has the authority to decide IF they will grant credits, and they have the authority to determine how many credits will be awarded.

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Do I get paid while I am in the academy?

Yes, please visit http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/career_opportunities/por/documents.html to view the pay benefits brochure.

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What if I need a Reasonable Accommodation?

  • If you have a disability or impairment for which you need an accommodation to perform the essential functions required of a Correctional Officer Cadet while attending the Academy, you need to notify OPOS in writing no later than four weeks prior to your scheduled academy start date. Your written request must state the type of accommodation required and be accompanied by medical documentation from your physician. Failure to notify OPOS as required could result in dismissal from the Academy and termination of your appointment.
  • If OPOS has made the determination that you meet medical guideline requirements and they have set upon you conditions of employment (i.e, corrective lenses, insulin, etc.), you must report to the Academy with these items or you will be sent home. If you bring any injectable medications and/or syringes onto Academy grounds, they must be declared to the Watch Sergeant, as security precautions must be taken because there are inmates on grounds.

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PROMOTIONS WITHIN PEACE OFFICER

What are my promotional opportunities once I become a Correctional Officer or Youth Correctional Officer?