Correctional Officer & Counselor Careers
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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) offers rewarding peace officer career opportunities. Becoming a peace officer with CDCR means you are joining a family of dedicated, hardworking men and women responsible for ensuring public safety throughout California. Once you join CDCR, there are many career options you can take as a peace officer including Parole, Internal Affairs, Correctional Safety as well as specialized team assignments including Investigative Services Unit, Crisis Response Team, Gang Task Force, and Fugitive Apprehension Team.

Selection Components

To be eligible for appointment a candidate must be successful in each of the following selection components:

After submitting your application you will be notified via email within 10 days with the date of your written examination. The notification will include your candidate identification number and logon instructions for our online scheduling system.  If you have a conflict with your scheduled written exam date please logon to the scheduling system and select a date to reschedule yourself, or contact your designated testing center and request to be rescheduled. 

The historic pass rate for the written exam is 87%. Candidates that successfully complete the exam will be scheduled to attend the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) the following month.

The written examination is designed to evaluate applicant skills in the areas of grammar, spelling, punctuation, reading comprehension, and basic mathematics. The exam is one hour and forty-five minutes and has 56 multiple-choice questions.  To learn more about the types of questions asked on the Written Examination, click here for a Sample Test.

Correctional Officer exam prep books are available online and at bookstores and may benefit some candidates. 
Please note: If you are designated as an out of state applicant, please Click Here for more information.

For more information on the Written Exam click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

Correctional Officers (COs), Youth Correctional Officers (YCOs), and Youth Correctional Counselors (YCCs) must be able to respond to a variety of physically demanding activities to maintain safety and security in a correctional environment. The Physical Fitness Test (PFT) evaluates each candidate’s strength, endurance, and agility as required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and functions expected of a CO/YCO/YCC. The PFT administered is modeled after, and tests for the same abilities, as those required of peace officer cadets to graduate from the Academy. This test is designed to assess the probability of success in performing various physical functions at the Academy and after graduation at your assigned institution or facility.

To assess these abilities, you will:

  • Run a 500-yard course on a variety of different surfaces, including
    • Run up and down one flight of stairs
    • Complete a mini obstacle course
  • Carry two (2) 45-pound kettlebells over a distance of 50 yards and set them down
  • Carry one (1) 45-pound weight over 75-yards and set it down,
  • Carry one (1) 30-pound weight over a final distance of 110-yards and then set it down

To pass the PFT candidates must complete the course in 5 minutes and 5 seconds, or less. Please view the PFT VIDEO to watch an example of the nature of the course you may encounter.

Candidates who work out regularly (2-3 times per week) and are in good to excellent condition generally do very well on the PFT.  Candidates who do not work out regularly may require six to twelve weeks, or more, of regular cardio and weight training prior to taking the PFT.  Consult a medical professional prior to beginning any exercise program.   For training recommendations, refer to the PFT Preparation Guide.

You may view another version of a PFT course here.

The PFT is held in three regions of California; Northern (Sacramento), Central (Fresno), and Southern (Chino).  Candidates are notified of their PFT testing date via email.  See maps and addresses for all Testing Locations.

NOTE: If you cannot appear for your scheduled PFT please logon to our online scheduling system to reschedule, or contact your designated testing center to reschedule if within 5 days of your PFT.

For more information on the Physical Fitness Test click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

Government Code Section 1031 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to determine that “peace officer candidates are of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation.” Civil Code 1798.15 requires that “personal information shall be collected to the greatest extent practical.” Additionally, Labor Code Section 432.7 requires that you disclose arrests or detentions which did or did not result in conviction, as well as referral to and participation in pretrial diversion programs.

The background investigation process consists of a thorough background investigation into each applicant’s past and current employment, residence history, relationships, credit responsibility, criminality, computerized voice stress analysis and fingerprint search. During this process CDCR will contact personal references, employers, education institutions, and law enforcement agencies to determine your suitability to become a peace officer.

Personal History Statement (PHS)

The PHS is an extensive document used to collect information regarding applicants past residences, acquaintances, and employment history. All candidates must submit their PHS, along with the notarized release (page 4), and other original documents upon check-in at the PFT. Candidates who are unable to provide a completed typed PHS document and notarized release will not be allowed to participate in the PFT and must contact their designated testing center no later than their appointment date to reschedule.

Download the PHS

All responses to questions answered within the submitted PHS will be verified through the background investigation and Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) examination.

CVSA Examination/Fingerprinting (LiveScan)

As part of the background investigation process, all candidates will be required to submit to a CVSA examination. The CVSA examination is used to verify the veracity and accuracy of information submitted by applicants regarding, but not necessarily limited to: use of controlled substances, driving, criminal history, employment history, and other suitability factors.

Candidates will be fingerprinted by Live Scan as a required part of the background investigation. Each fingerprint is scanned into a computer database at the Department of Justice and checked against criminal records nationwide. Information received may include charges that have been dismissed.

It takes approximately 90 days to complete the background investigation. A complex background investigation, or a background investigation with serious issues, may exceed the 90-day timeframe.

Disqualifying Factors

Examples of disqualifying information include: felony conviction, current firearm prohibition, currently on probation, or an active criminal warrant.

Examples of possible disqualifying factors discovered during this investigation that will be evaluated on a case by case basis include: misdemeanor convictions, certain serious traffic convictions or patterns of traffic law violations, failure to appear, driver license suspensions, driving under the influence, failure to comply with legal obligations, negative employment history, and substance abuse.

Illegal Drug Activity – An applicant’s experimental use of marijuana or other drugs may not be a disqualifying factor. The recency, frequency, and specific circumstances of illegal drug activity will be evaluated to determine suitability for employment as a peace officer.

Marijuana Use – The use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes is considered illegal drug use as mandated by the federal government. For CDCR’s policy regarding marijuana use, see Frequently Asked Questions at the following location

Firearm Prohibition – An applicant with a current firearm prohibition cannot be appointed as a peace officer.

Pending Criminal Prosecution – An applicant who is pending criminal prosecution for any felony or misdemeanor crime cannot be appointed as a peace officer until a judgment has been entered.

Active Warrant – An applicant who has an active warrant (other than failure to appear for a minor traffic violation) cannot be appointed as a peace officer until the warrant has been cleared.

Dishonorable or Bad Conduct Discharge from Armed Forces – An applicant who separated from any branch of the Armed Forces with a Dishonorable or Bad Conduct discharge will be removed from the selection process.

Military Court Martial – An applicant convicted by a military court martial from any branch of the Armed Forces cannot apply until a minimum of three years have elapsed from the date of conviction.

Court Probation– An applicant who is serving any term of court probation will be removed from the selection process until the probation period has ended.

Misdemeanor Conviction – An applicant who has been recently convicted of a misdemeanor offense or multiple misdemeanor offenses may be removed from the selection process.

DUI / Wet Reckless – An applicant who has been recently convicted of DUI/Wet Reckless may be removed from the selection process.

Negative Employment Record – An applicant who has a recent negative employment record or an applicant with a recent termination for cause may be disqualified from the selection process.

Driving Record – An applicant with recent or severe traffic citations or multiple driver’s license suspensions may be disqualified from the selection process.

For more information on the Background Investigation click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

This test checks a candidate's visual acuity and color vision. If the candidate does not have 20/20 vision in each eye, a written certification is required from an optometrist or ophthalmologist indicating that vision is correctable to 20/20 in each eye.

Note: (1) If your vision is NOT 20/20 or better in each eye, or (2) if you use any type of corrective lenses, you need to print out the Peace Officer Vision Verification (OPOS 201) form and have it filled out by your eye doctor. Bring the completed form with you on your scheduled vision test date.

For more information on the Vision Test click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

Written Peace Officer Psychological Evaluation (POPE)

This evaluation consists of a series of questions candidates respond to based upon their personal preferences. The information will be used in the Oral POPE.

The Written POPE is available by scheduled appointment only.

Candidates that do not appear for their Written POPE must contact their assigned Testing Center to reschedule. The Testing Center phone numbers are:

  • Northern Testing Center (916) 255-1025
  • Central Testing Center (559) 445-6141
  • Southern Testing Center (909) 944-6697

Failure to reschedule may result in removal from the selection process and an inability to reapply for a period of six months from the disqualification date.

Candidates that complete the Written POPE return in the afternoon for the Vision Test

Peace Officer Psychological Screening Interview (Pass/Fail)

After completion of the written peace officer psychological evaluation and clearance of their background investigation, candidates will be contacted via email by staff from the Psychological Screening Program to schedule their psychological screening interview. Candidates are reminded to check their email on a daily basis, including email that is diverted to “junk” or “spam” email folders.

  • Peace officer psychological screening interviews are mandatory and conducted by a licensed psychologist. Psychological screening interviews are by appointment only.
  • Candidates should dress in business attire and bring their scheduling notice and valid photo identification such as a driver’s license, military ID, government ID, or passport to the interview. Candidates will not be admitted without valid photo identification.
  • Candidates shall be informed that once their psychological interview is scheduled there may be a $100 assessed to reschedule. This applies to candidates that do not appear for their psychological interview. An exception is when a candidate can submit documentation of an emergency situation or military duty.
  • Occasionally treatment records are required from previous professional providers before the psychological screening interview can be scheduled. Candidates that do not provide requested information by established due dates may face elimination from the selection process.
  • Candidates that do not appear for their scheduled psychological screening interview may be eliminated from the peace officer selection process unless a documented emergency resulted in the missed appointment. An accident report, vehicle repair bill, doctor’s note, etc., may be requested to substantiate the emergency.
  • Candidates who are eliminated from the peace officer psychological evaluation process will not be eligible to reapply for one year from the date of elimination.

For more information on the Psychological Exam click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

Pre-Employment Medical Examination (PEM) (Pass/Fail)

This is a comprehensive physical examination conducted by licensed physicians under contract with the CDCR to evaluate a candidate's overall physical health. All candidates going through PEM will undergo a visual genitourinary system examination as well as a urinalysis drug screening. Candidates 50 years of age or older are required to undergo a rectal examination.

PEM Process

  • The PEM is administered by appointment only.
  • The PEM date and time cannot be rescheduled. Candidates that do not appear for the PEM will be eliminated and will not be able to reapply for 1 year from the elimination date.
  • Candidates that do not provide requested information by the due date will be eliminated and will not be able to reapply for one (1) year from the elimination date.
  • Candidates who are disqualified in the PEM will not be able to reapply for 1 year from the disqualification date.

Tuberculosis Screening

Prior to reporting to the Basic Correctional Officer Academy (BOCA), candidates are responsible for ensuring they are free from tuberculosis with a certification from their physician.

For more information on the Medical Exam click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.

Appointment Process

After successfully completing all of the selection components, candidates are placed on the certification list, which gives them eligibility to be appointed as a Correctional Peace Officer.

Institution Assignment

An Institution assignment is based on departmental need. Each time an academy is scheduled, the Division of Adult Institutions or Division of Juvenile Justice provides OPOS with the Institution location and how many cadets are needed for each Institution. Candidates are not guaranteed an academy offer at any time while on the certification list