Process to become CHP officer is hard, but serving others makes it worthwhile

Officers stand at attention during a CHP uniform inspection in Fresno earlier this year.
Officers stand at attention during a CHP uniform inspection in Fresno earlier this year. CHP

I recently received a phone call from my 19-year-old nephew who wanted to let me know he plans on applying to become an officer with the California Highway Patrol. “I want to be a CHP officer like you.” Instantly, I felt a sense of pride, as my chosen career path has had such a positive impression on him.

However, I couldn’t help but question if he is up for the challenge. My concerns were quickly lifted when he explained why he wants to become a CHP officer.

“I want to make a difference in my community.” I paused when I heard his answer. It was the same answer I had given my wife nearly 10 years earlier. During our conversation, I began to feel excited for him about how determined he is to achieve his goal of becoming a CHP officer. I was also impressed with the number of questions he had regarding the CHP’s application process and academy.

CHP officer Robert Montano writes the On Duty column for The Bee. Fresno

As I was answering his questions, I could not help but wonder how many other potential CHP applicants have these same questions. So, I would like to take the time to cover some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the CHP’s application process.

Is the CHP hiring? Yes, the CHP is currently accepting applications from highly motivated individuals interested in serving the public. We are continually striving to have a force that reflects the diversity of our great state. Our goal is to ensure our recruitment efforts reach all segments of society. Who can apply? Candidates must meet the following criteria to apply for the CHP:

Must be a United States citizen.

Must be between the ages of 20 and 35 years old.

Must possess a high school diploma or equivalent.

Must be able to pass an extensive written and physical exam.

Must be able to pass an extensive background check.

How long is the hiring process? From the time you first apply until you arrive at the academy takes approximately 18 months. At first glance, this may seem long. However, consider the job you are applying for. The citizens of California will be entrusting you to protect them, giving you rights which few people have. The CHP wants to make sure you will be an outstanding example and that you will not take unfair advantage of the powers invested in you. Therefore, a recruit will undergo an extensive background check to include finances, lifestyle choices, criminal history, etc. Investigators will speak to your family, friends, co-workers, supervisors and we will even visit current and past neighbors.

How long is academy training? A recruit will be there for 28 weeks, enjoying some of the best law enforcement training in the world. Your days will be extremely busy with physical exercise, inspections, classroom training, advanced driving techniques and much more. It is mentally and physically demanding and many who attend unfortunately fail to graduate. The goal of the academy is to produce highly trained officers who will uphold the traditions and dedication to the highest level of public service.

Is the Academy easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Even if you have never considered becoming a law enforcement officer, I suggest you consider becoming a CHP officer. Our job is to save lives, and every officer we have on the road is striving to make a difference!

With approximately 7,300 sworn officers across the state, the CHP is the largest state police agency in the Nation, and we are accepting applications all year round as we are continuously searching for qualified men and women to join our department.

If you have additional questions regarding the CHP’s application process, visit our website at www.chpcareers.com, or call and talk to a recruiter at (559) 453-3100.

CHP Officer Robert Montano can be reached at rmontano@chp.ca.gov. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.