Seattle PD Job Overview

Learn How to Become a Cop For Seattle PD. Find out the Requirements & Qualifications to work for SPD, as well as the Salary & Pay Scale

Table of Contents

Top 4 Reasons why you should Join SPD


in 2018 the Seattle city council approved a 17% pay hike through 2020. Seattle Police officers worked without a raise for many years until settling on a new contract where a substantial raise was agreed upon with the Seattle police officers' guild

Highest Paid in WA

The 17% pay hike makes Seattle officers the highest paid in the state of Washington, and fourth out of seven comparable West Coast cities, according to the The city has been ranked sixth. The raise is a great way to show recruits that the city is committed to them.

Lateral Transfer Friendly

Seattle police department has an excellent lateral transfer policy that is very well put together for experienced police officers looking for a fresh start somewhere else. SPD has implemented a $15,000 bonus for qualifying applicants.

Career advancement

working for a large agency like SPD will bring alot of career path options to choose from as there are so many different specialized units to join throughout your career. These career advancement opportunities simply does not exist in smaller agencies

WATCH: The Pros and Cons of Being a Cop

Seattle Police Requirements:

Minimum Qualifications

Here are some of the basic requirements to become a police officer in Washington. Note some agencies may have additional requirements

Disqualification factors to be aware of:

Likely Disqualifier

  • Lying during any phase of the selection process
  • Failure to pay your taxes 
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Criminal case where the disposition is still pending
  • Suspended driver’s license
  • history of lawlessness
  • currently on probation or parole
  • falsifying documents that are meant to evaluate your suitability as a viable candidate
  • Any adult felony conviction
  • Any misdemeanor, or felony conviction while employed in a criminal justice capacity
  • Adult misdemeanor convictions will be carefully reviewed
  • Any domestic violence conviction
  • Juvenile felony conviction will be carefully reviewed
  • Failure to pay income tax or child support
  • Current credit accounts, or unresolved accounts in collection will be carefully reviewed

Complete Employment Application
written test & video exam
Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy
Physical Ability Test (PAT)
Job Interview Board
Polygraph Examination
Background Investigation
Drug screening
Medical Examination
300 Meter Sprint
1.5 Mile Run
Psychological Examination

Police Training Academy Courses


  • Taser
  • First Aid
  • DUI/OWI Enforcement
  • Traffic Enforcement
  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Law
  • search and seizure
  • ethical issues
  • use of force;
  • firearms
  • defensive tactics
  • drug investigations

Specialized Units in Seattle

911 Communication Center
Air Support Unit (King County)
Bomb Squad
Canine Unit (K9)
Crisis response team
Honor Guard
Motorcycle Unit
bicycle unit
Traffic Investigations
Vice Enforcement Unit
Parking enforcement
Harbor Patrol

Recruits entering the Police Academy

$ 1 *
$ 1 *

Sworn Police Officer annual compensation

Once you become a sworn police officer the average pay is as followed:

Sworn Police Officer
After 6 months
after 18 months
after 30 months
after 42 months
after 54 months

*The above figure does not reflect overtime pay, uniform allowance, longevity pay, educational level, holiday pay and more. 

Lateral Transfer Pay

24-41 months exp.
42-53 months exp.
54+ months exp.

*The above figure does not reflect overtime pay, uniform allowance, longevity pay, educational level, holiday pay and more. 

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Washington State

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The Hiring Process

The process you are entering to become a police officer is extensive and will take approximately 4-6 MONTHS to complete AFTER you take and pass the Civil Service examination. The following protocol applies to ALL applicants for sworn positions (including Entry-Level, Exceptional-Entry & Lateral from inside and outside the State of Washington).

Your first step is to download the PRE-APPLICATION form (on page 1 of this website) fill it out completely and submit it by mail or FAX to the location listed on the form. DO NOT attach any other documents to this form. You will be notified by mail 45 days prior to the test, as to when and where the next examination will be given.

ALL applicants must take and pass the Civil Service Physical Agility & Written examination. You MUST bring your notarized & fully completed Personal History Information (PHI) documents with you to the test.

The Physical Agility Examination requires applicants to:

  • Run 1.5 miles in 16 minutes-28 seconds
  • Sprint 300 meters in .71 seconds
  • Perform 29 standard (full) sit-ups (hands behind your head, elbows to knees) in 1 minute
  • Perform 25 standard push-ups with no time limit

*same for men & women

The Written Examination includes:

  • General knowledge
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Common Sense questions

The testing process will last at least 8 hours to complete and applicants MUST obtain a passing score of 81% AND be in the top 25% of the register to be considered for employment.

Following the above tests you will be notified by mail by Seattle’s City Personnel office as to your overall score on the written exam and placement on the eligibility list. Please do not call to inquire about your score.

Testing for police officer is conducted on a continuum, meaning that other applicant’s names will be added to the eligibility list above and/or below yours, depending on your testing score.

When the Seattle Police Department begins processing police officer applicants you will be notified by phone and/or mail as to the next phase in the testing process.

Applicants who do not meet the police department’s eligibility requirements will be considered less competitive so please ensure that you meet the minimum hiring standards (page 1 of this website).

You will then be contacted by a background Detective who will schedule you for an Oral Board. Following your successful completion of the Oral Board and your overall competitiveness with other applicants you may be offered conditional employment with the Seattle Police Department. DO NOT QUIT YOUR CURRENT JOB or MOVE until you receive a written FINAL OFFER of employment.

After receiving a conditional officer of employment you will be scheduled additional tests, including a polygraph, written and oral psychological, medical and finally, an in-person interview with a Seattle Police Assistant Chief or his/her representative.

Once you receive your final offer of employment you will be notified of your academy start date & employment orientation. (For Laterals and qualified Exceptional-Entry candidates, you will be notified when to report to the academy to take your equivalency exam, to become certified as a police officer in Washington State).

Once hired, you will become a Police Recruit and enter the police academy. The police academy is approximately 6-months (720 hours). Recruits are NOT housed at the academy and will be responsible for their own housing.

Upon your graduation from the police academy you will become a Student Officer and spend 8-weeks in the Advanced Training Academy where you will learn laws & procedures specific to Seattle. (All Laterals & Exceptional-Entry officers are also required to attend this training).

After completing advanced training, you will enter the Field Training Program, where you will spend the following 4-months with an experienced officer who will evaluate your performance in the patrol division.

You must successfully complete all of above segments to continue your employment with the Seattle Police Department. Failure to achieve satisfactory scores and/or performance may result in your termination.

Once you successfully complete the Field Training program you will be assigned to the Patrol Division where you will be assigned to Patrol duties at various precincts on various shifts.

You will be a probationary police officer for the first year following your graduation from the academy. Once passing probation, you will become a permanent member of the Seattle Police Department.

You will be required to work in the Patrol Division for the first 3 years of your career, at which time you may apply for other assignments. You must be employed for 5 years as a Seattle Police officer before seeking promotion.

The Seattle Police Department has recently changed its protocol for testing Lateral, Exceptional, Entry-level and Reserve police officer applicants. At this time, monthly testing has been suspended and examinations will be conducted as needed in 2003.

All persons interested in applying for police officer positions should download and complete the pre-application form and submit it to the Recruiting office, which will keep it on file until the next scheduled examination.

Fill Out a PHI to bring to the next examination

Applicants should also download the Personal History Information (PHI) documents, including the two consent forms (that must be signed by a Notary Public prior submission). Please ensure that you have all of the requested documents included, such as copies of your Social Security card, driver’s license, high school diploma, birth certificate, college transcripts, academy certificate (if applicable), etc. DO NOT send the PHI documents to the recruiting unit. KEEP THE PHI, and update it as necessary until the next scheduled test. You will be bringing it with you to the next examination.

When a test date is authorized, applicants will be notified by mail as to the date, time and other relevant logistical information. Please do not contact the Recruiting Office regarding testing. This is all of the information you will need to begin this process.

Prepare for Examinations:


Applicants should prepare themselves to pass the SPD PHYSICAL EXAMINATION prior to attending the test. These requirements include:

  • 1.5 mile run in 16 minutes, 28 seconds
  • 300 meter run in 71 seconds
  • 29 sit-ups (elbows to knees) in one minute
  • 25 push-ups (no time limit).

Applicants who do not pass all of these required tests will be discontinued from the process and must wait six months to re-test.

Applicants should also prepare themselves to take the SPD WRITTEN EXAMINATION prior to attending the test. These tests include memorization, English and grammar skills, common sense, and problem solving abilities, including some math. The video portion of the testing is based on law enforcement related scenarios that you will be given instructions on at the time of the test.

If you have any perceived deficiencies in these areas, attempt to contact people and or other resources that can assist you in the successful completion of the SPD testing process. Study sessions sponsored by the SPD are offered prior to the test being given and you will be notified by mail when these sessions will be offered.

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Speaking Events Best Fit:

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  • AI Implementation Strategy
  • Online Marketing Events

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