Learn how to become a police officer in a Massachusetts Civil Service Department
Being a police officer is a meaningful way to serve a community. As a police officer, you will be a public servant responsible for responding to fires and other emergency situations in your community. You often respond to risky and physically demanding calls and work shifts that operate around the clock with your fellow police officers.
Please read the steps to becoming a police officer;
First step is to take the written exam. Check the exam schedule to find the next exam being offered. Requirement to take the exam is;
- You must meet the age requirements.
You do not need to be a resident of Massachusetts to take the exam. More detailed information can be found on the exam poster.
After taking the written exam, your name will be placed on the eligible list. When a police department is ready to hire, they request the eligible list and the Civil Service Unit sends a list of names.
If your name is reached, the hiring process will begin and may include the following;
- complete an extensive employment packet
- thorough background check
If you are offered a job you can expect to first complete the following as part of the conditional offer of employment;
- Take and pass a medical exam
- Take and pass the Initial-Hire Physical Ability Test (PAT)
Once you have successfully passed the medical exam and PAT as well as any additional requirements from the department, you will begin your new rewarding career as a police officer.
Frequently Asked Questions for the Police Officer Exam
Q: I see the Police Officer exam is being offered in 2022. I took it in 2021, do I need to apply and take the exam again to remain on the eligible list?
A: No. Your score from the exam in 2021, will determine your ranking on the eligible list and will be good for two years (9/1/2021 through 9/1/2023).
Q: How many times can someone take the exam?
A: Candidates are eligible to participate each time the exam is offered, whether every two years or annually. If candidates participate in the annual cycle, the most recent test score will be used for ranking on the eligible list. A candidate could take the most recent exam, fail, and no longer appear on any eligible list.
Q: I participated in the 2021 Police Officer exam and choose not to take the exam in 2022, how does this impact my ranking on the eligible list?
A: All test takers that participate in the 2022 exam will be merged onto the eligible list based on scores and statutory preferences, such as Veterans and residency.
Q: Am I qualified to take the Police Officer exam?
A: Any entrance qualifications and requirements for the position will be listed on the exam announcement. Please carefully review these qualifications and requirements to be sure you meet them before you apply.
Q: How do I apply for the Police Officer exam?
A: Read the Police Officer exam poster and apply online when it is available.
Q: What are components of the Police Officer exam?
A: The written examination which consists of three subtests: the Written Ability Test (WAT), the Life Experience Survey (LES), and the Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ).
Q: What are components of the written test?
A: The written test has 3 parts, each measuring qualities that are important to succeed as an entry-level police officer:
• Written Ability Test (WAT) — The WAT is administered to measure cognitive abilities that have been identified as essential to performing the duties of a Municipal and Transit Police Officer. The WAT includes areas of verbal expression, verbal comprehension, problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and information ordering. Candidates must receive a passing score on the WAT section of the examination in order
to have the WSQ (Work Styles Questionnaire) and LES (Life Experience Survey) sections scored.
• Work Styles Questionnaire (WSQ) — The WSQ is designed to assess certain motivational, value-related and attitudinal characteristics that are of potential relevance to successful performance of entry-level Municipal and Transit Police Officer.
• Life Experience Survey (LES) — The LES consists of a series of multiple-choice questions related to candidates' past history and experience of potential relevance to successful performance of entry-level Municipal and Transit Police Officer.
You can use the Police Officer Written Test Preparation Guide to find out more about the exam process, learn test-taking techniques, and practice with sample questions.
Q: After I apply for the exam how will I know when and where to take the written test?
A: Two weeks before the written test date you will receive a notice to appear by email. The notice will tell you the location and the time to appear for your written test. Please check your junk or spam mail folder for the e-mail before contacting the Civil Service office.
Q: When will I receive my exam results?
A: Results will be emailed to you as soon as they are available.
Boston, MA 02114