Frequently Asked Questions
If your question does not appear in our FAQ list, please feel free to contact us directly by phone at (512) 974-4211 or by email at APDRecruiting@austintexas.gov.
- What are the age requirements for police officer candidates?
Applicants must be at least 20.5 on the start date of their academy class and must not be older than 45 years of age at the time of application.
- As an out of state applicant, how many trips will I need to make to Austin during the hiring process?
Two to three. All applicants who pass the initial screening process must complete and pass Phase I Testing (written exam, physical fitness test, and psychological questionnaires). Those who pass Phase I Testing will move into the background stage of the hiring process during which they will fill out an electronic Background History Statement online. Phase II Testing follows the background stage and consists of a medical assessment, psychological evaluation, polygraph test, and oral board. Lastly, for those who have been extended an offer for hire, a mandatory orientation is held 3-5 weeks prior to the start of the Academy. Please visit the Hiring Process page of our website for detailed descriptions of each stage in the hiring process.
- Can I make copies of originals or certified copies for my application packet?
No. Required documentation must be the original or a certified copy. However, if you bring the originals to the Recruiting office we will make certified copies and return your originals.
- Do I need to submit all my documents before testing?
Yes. All documents must be submitted electronically with your Background History Statement once you are scheduled for Phase I Testing. Applications that are incomplete or that do not have all the required documentation submitted may be disqualified. The required documents will need to be uploaded electronically and brought with you to Phase I Testing. If you have any questions, please call the Recruiting Office at (512) 974-4211.
- How do I notify the Recruiting Unit if I need to withdraw from the hiring process or if I can’t make my scheduled testing dates?
If withdrawing, please email the Recruiting Unit (APDRecruiting@austintexas.gov) with your name and reason for withdrawing. Failure to contact the Recruiting Unit may subject your application to disqualification.
If you need to reschedule your test dates, please call the Recruiting Unit at (512) 974-4211. If you reschedule within less than 15 days of your testing dates you may be subject to disqualification.
- How long does the hiring process usually take?
Approximately 6-12 months. The timeframe depends on several factors including available test dates, how quickly your background investigation is completed, and the Academy start date. We highly encourage applicants to begin gathering the information needed for the electronic Background History Statement ahead of time and to remain proactive throughout the hiring process. The more you communicate with your background investigator, the faster your investigation will be completed. Visit the Hiring Process page of our website for more information about each step in the hiring process and what is needed to complete your Background History Statement.
If I was disqualified from the hiring process, how long must I wait before I am eligible to reapply?
Depends. The Department has a specific disqualification process and time frames vary depending on the reason for disqualification. Anytime an applicant is temporarily disqualified from our hiring process, he/she is provided with an eligibility date to reapply. Permanent disqualifications remain permanent.
- What do I wear for my initial interviews with a recruiter or background investigator?
You should dress appropriately to all interviews or meetings with Recruiting staff. However, a suit or business attire is not necessary until your oral board interview. The wearing of cut-off shirts, shorts, torn or faded clothing, gym attire, flip flops, or sandals does not display the professional appearance we look for in our applicants. Athletic attire should only be worn to Phase I Testing because this is when the physical fitness test is conducted.
- What will happen if I omit important information or am found to be deceptive in the hiring process regarding my background history?
Honesty and integrity are important values found in Austin police officers. If you are found omitting important information or are found to be deceptive at any point throughout the hiring process, you will be permanently disqualified. All applicants must successfully complete a background investigation and polygraph in order to continue in the hiring process.
When I join the Austin Police Department, do I have to live at the Training Academy?
No. Cadets do not live at our Training Academy. Work hours are typically Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. There are several training sessions throughout the Academy, however, that will require evenings and/or weekends depending on the lesson plan or project being completed. Regardless of your schedule, you typically do not work more than 40 hours in a given week while in the Academy.
How long is the Training Academy?
The Regular Academy is approximately 32 weeks long. Upon graduation you will receive 1,280 hours of instruction. The Transitional Officer Program (for applicants with active law enforcement experience) is shorter, at approximately 16 weeks.
How many academy classes are held each year?
Varies. The number of academy classes held each year depends on how many vacancies the department needs to fill. Typically we hold between 1-3 classes per year.
How many cadets are usually hired for an academy?
Varies. The number of cadets hired will depend on the amount of vacancies within the police department. Past class sizes have ranged anywhere from 25 to over 100 cadets.
Are there any waivers for testing for active-duty military?
No. Waivers are not allowed at any time.
Can Active Duty, Reserve, or Military Veterans apply?
Yes. Military personnel and veterans who have, or are anticipated to have, an honorable discharge are eligible and encouraged to apply. General discharge and uncharacterized discharge are also accepted but reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Applicants who are currently in the military must provide a letter from their Commanding Officer stating the expected discharge status and date.
Active status military personnel can apply as long as they are available when the cadet class is scheduled to begin.
Applicants who are discharged must submit their DD-214 (Member 4 copy) for discharge status verification.
Applicants in the Military Reserves should advise their command of the police academy training schedule and attempt to work out a schedule that will allow regular attendance of the academy. Remember, the regular police academy is approximately 8 months long.
Can I apply if I was discharged from the military with a general or uncharacterized discharge?
Yes. However, it depends on the reason for the discharge. It must be under honorable conditions. The Austin Police Department will review each general or uncharacterized discharge on a case-by-case basis.
Can I apply if I was discharged with a dishonorable discharge from the military?
No. No one who was issued a dishonorable discharge, bad conduct, or other characterization of bad character will be accepted.
What are your medical disqualifiers?
Medical disqualifiers are reviewed on a case-by-case basis after careful consideration of each applicant’s particular medical situation. However, the following is a list of minimum medical requirements that must be met to become an Austin police officer:
Smell: Applicants must possess a sense of smell.
Hearing: At least 25 DB in each ear at the following frequencies: 500, 1K, 2K and 3K. An applicant failing this requirement will be referred for further testing and possible use of a hearing aid.
- Uncorrected visual acuity must be at least 20/100 (both eyes) for those who wear glasses or hard contact lenses.
- Wearers of soft contact lenses are exempt from uncorrected visual acuity. If you wear contact lenses, you must wear them during the medical exam.
- Corrected visual acuity should be at least 20/20 (both eyes) and 20/40 (each eye).
- The horizontal visual field should be at least 120 degrees in each eye.
- Color vision and night vision must be normal and a deficiency in either may be a disqualifier if the applicant cannot pass our medical testing, or from that of a specialist of their own choice. Monocular color vision deficiency will be considered on an individual basis.
- Applicants who have recently completed refractive surgery (within the last 12 months) or plan to have this surgery performed must be cleared by their eye surgeon prior to attending an Austin Police Department academy. Please contact the Recruiting office to obtain the necessary form.
- What elements of an applicant’s criminal history may result in his/her disqualification?
Applicants will be disqualified from the hiring process for any of the following reasons:
- Having been convicted, or on court-ordered community supervision or probation, for any criminal offense the grade of a Class A misdemeanor or higher.
- Having been convicted, or on court-ordered community supervision or probation for a Class B misdemeanor within the last ten (10) years.
- Currently under indictment for any criminal offense.
- Having been convicted, or having a history, of any family violence offense.
- Having a conviction for or currently charged with any misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude.
- Having a conviction for driving under the influence (DWI or DUI) within the last ten (10) years, or during the hiring process.
- Being prohibited by state or federal law from operating a motor vehicle.
- Being prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.
- Currently charged with an offense for which conviction would be a bar to licensure.
I’m a military applicant and was discharged under less than honorable conditions. Can I apply?
Military applicants having been discharged from any military service under less than honorable conditions will be disqualified. These include:
- Under other than honorable conditions
- Bad conduct
- Any other characterization of service indicating bad behavior
Applicants who have received a general discharge under honorable conditions or an uncharacterized discharge will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
I don’t have the best driving record. Will that disqualify me?
An applicant’s entire driving record is reviewed, with the last five years being the most critical. However, the following are automatic disqualifiers:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction within the last 10 years
- Suspension of your driver’s license for any reason within the last 5 years
- Unacceptable driving record or currently classified as a habitual violator
- History or pattern of unsafe driving including at-fault collisions
I don’t have a great credit score. Will I be disqualified for this?
Credit history is reviewed to determine continuing eligibility in the hiring process. Unstable credit history can lead to a disqualification. The following may prohibit you from continuing in the hiring process:
- A consistent history of issuance of bad checks
- History of delinquent payments
- Not meeting financial obligations
Is drug use an automatic disqualifier?
Drug use is not automatically a permanent disqualifier. Disqualification timeframes depend on many factors including the substance used, age at time of use, and frequency of use. For specific questions, please contact the Recruiting Unit. Below are a list of some of the disqualifiers for drug use:
- Selling of marijuana
- Selling any controlled substance or dangerous drugs
- Using a controlled substance or dangerous drug illegally within a designated time period from date of application
I am a current law enforcement officer/have prior law enforcement experience. What could disqualify me?
The following is a list of potential disqualifiers for current or prior law enforcement:
- Having had a law enforcement commission license denied by final order, revoked, or having voluntarily surrendered your license to avoid suspension.
- Discharged from any commission or recruit position within a law enforcement agency for disciplinary reasons, resigning to avoid suspension or discharge or having resigned during a disciplinary investigation without final judgment being rendered.
- Discharged from any city, county, state, federal or private corrections institution for disciplinary reasons to avoid suspension or discharge, or having resigned during a disciplinary investigation without a final judgment being rendered.
- History of sustained Internal Affairs complaints or behavior that indicates poor conduct.
What are some additional reasons I might be disqualified from the hiring process?
The following is a list of potential disqualifiers that do not fit in any particular category:
- Failure to answer every question in the Background History Statement.
- Failure to meet application process deadlines.
- Failure to pass a Polygraph, Medical, Psychological screening, and Drug Test screening.
- Making false statements, being deceptive by statement or omission in the hiring and selection process will be a permanent disqualifier.
- Failure to keep appointment(s) or provide documentation related to the hiring process. At least 24 hour prior notice for rescheduling of appointments is required to avoid disqualification, unless otherwise specified.
Are there residency requirements to work for the Austin Police Department?
No. Austin police officers do not have residency requirements.
Does the Austin Police Department pay for relocation costs or offer reimbursements for moving expenses?
No. Applicants are responsible for all moving costs. However, your uniforms and equipment are paid for by the Austin Police Department and you are paid a salary while attending the Academy.
Can I apply if I am attending school?
Yes. However, you may not attend school outside of the APD academy during your training.
Do you offer lateral transfers or host an academy for certified police officers?
The Austin Police Department does not accept lateral transfers but will accept applications for the Transitional Officer Program for experienced police officers (those with a minimum of three years of consecutive law enforcement experience by the start of their academy class). A TOP class is generally held once each year. Please visit the Academy page of our website for specific information about qualifications and the hiring process.
Does the Austin Police Department have overtime pay and off-duty overtime?
Yes. Many officers supplement their income with department overtime assignments from special events or patrol functions. Off-duty overtime (overtime outside the department) is also available for many officers at different locations within the city. Generally, officers who graduate the academy are not allowed to work overtime during their initial 15-month probationary period.
Does the Austin Police Department have a policy on tattoos?
Yes. Officers may have tattoos except for areas on the neck or face/head. Tattoos that are deemed offensive in nature must be covered up by clothing or arm bands while on duty. Any tattoos that are related to gangs or hate groups, whether they are visible while in uniform or not, are not permitted and will not result in the candidate being hired. Applicants must submit photos of their tattoos during the background portion of the hiring process.
Am I allowed to wear dreadlocks while employed by the Austin Police Department?
Yes. Dreadlocks, twists, and braids shall be kept clean and neat and shall conform to uniform standards. They must be proportionate in size, no larger than ½ inch in diameter, and tightly woven to present a neat, professional appearance.
Is it possible to do a ride along with an Austin Police officer?
Is it possible to do a ride along with an Austin Police officer?
Yes. The APD Ride Along Program is designed to give citizens a first-hand view of police work in Austin, Texas. After completing an application, you will be paired with a patrol officer in a marked vehicle and will observe as he or she responds to calls for service. This is one of the best ways to learn if police work is right for you.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to participate in the program prior to applying, if possible. All police officer candidates must complete a ride along with an officer toward the end of the hiring process. This will be scheduled through your background investigator. Any citizen wishing to participate in the program can obtain information by contacting the Public Information Office at 512-974-5017 or by viewing the Police Observer Information Form below. Please follow these instructions after completing the application in the information form.
What are the general duties of a police officer?
Police officer duties include but are not limited to the following:
•Assigned to patrol in one of the nine geographic sectors (four regions) of the City of Austin
•Responding to calls for service from the community
•Conducting preliminary investigations at crime scenes
•Familiar with Texas Penal Code, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Texas Transportation Code and Texas Family Code
•Investigating traffic related incidents
•Driving and safe operation of police vehicles
•Documenting incidents in police reports and gathering of evidence
•Familiar with Austin Police Department rules and regulations as well as City of Austin Ordinances
•Searching, pursuing and detaining suspects
•Responding to burglar and robbery alarms
•Enforcing traffic and parking laws
•Participating in Community Policing activities
•Working with other police department units as well as other local, state, and federal entities
•Preparing for and attending court appearances
•Participating in mandatory and elective training
•Keeping proficient with firearms and self-defense
What are the possible career paths and job assignments for a police officer?
Please visit our Careers page for more information about the rank structure, pay scales, a list of specialized units, and information regarding the promotional process.
What happens after I graduate from the training academy?
Newly graduated officers will enter a Field Training Program for 3-4 months of one-on-one training with a Field Training Officer. Generally you are assigned to a patrol shift in one of nine sectors within the city. Your work schedule will be four 10-hour days with three consecutive days off. Your days off will rotate every 28 days.
Click the links below to learn more information about our department and related law enforcement officer associations.
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE)
Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT)
Austin Police Women’s Association
Lesbian & Gay Peace Officers Association (LGPOA)