Becoming a Police Officer
Education/experience requirement: A high school diploma or equivalency certificate issued by the Massachusetts Department of Education or three years in the armed forces of the United States with last release or discharge under honorable conditions.
The minimum age requirement of 21 years applies to all civil service jurisdictions. The following civil service municipalities (under the provisions of chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws) may appoint candidates who are over age 32 and who meet certain medical and physical fitness standards:
Abington, Agawam, Amesbury, Andover, Athol, Attleboro, Auburn, Avon, Barnstable, Bellingham, Belmont, Beverly, Boston, Bourne, Braintree, Bridgewater, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Carver, Charlton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Clinton, Cohasset, Danvers, Dedham, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, East Longmeadow, Everett, Fairhaven, Fall River, Falmouth, Fitchburg, Framingham, Franklin, Gardner, Gloucester, Greenfield, Halifax, Hanover, Holbrook, Holden, Holyoke, Hull, Kingston, Lancaster, Lawrence, Leicester, Lexington, Lowell, Ludlow, Lynn, Marlborough, Marshfield, Maynard, Medfield, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Middleboro, Millis, Millbury, Milton, Montague, Natick, Needham, Newburyport, New Bedford, North Adams, Northbridge, Norwell, Oxford, Palmer, Peabody, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Plainville, Plymouth, Provincetown, Quincy, Randolph, Reading, Revere, Rockland, Salem, Sandwich, Saugus, Scituate, Sharon, Shrewsbury, Somerville, Springfield, Stoughton, Swampscott, Taunton, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Walpole, Waltham, Wareham, Webster, West Bridgewater, Westwood, Weymouth, Whitman, Winchendon, Winchester, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, and Wrentham. In these communities, as current law requires, candidates will have to meet physical fitness and medical standards within 30 days of appointment to police officer positions, and once hired, will be tested regularly during their employment to be sure that they meet certain medical and physical fitness standards.. More information about medical and physical standards testing will follow. This list of communities is subject to change. Any questions about status changes should be directed to the communities in question.
Police Officers hired from the eligible list resulting from this examination are prohibited from smoking tobacco products at the time of and after appointment, according to Chapter 41, Section 101A, of the Massachusetts General Laws.
No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be appointed as a Police Officer. A candidate may be disqualified for evidence of character clearly unsuited for police services. Some Municipalities include a comprehensive background check as part of the selection process.
You may need a valid firearms permit before you will be hired by some police departments.
You may need a valid Massachusetts motor vehicle operator’s license before you will be hired by some police departments.
Some municipalities may require you to pass both a medical examination and a psychological evaluation before you are appointed.
All candidates appointed as full time police officers as a result of competitive entrance examination will be required to complete basic academy training as required by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council.
A Police Officer works under supervision to perform law enforcement duties, protecting life, property, and the civil rights of individuals. Primary duties include patrol; interacting with citizens to provide service and render assistance : and preparing and completing records, reports, and other paperwork documenting incidents for use in prosecution. A Police Officer is dispatched to crime and emergency scenes in response to reported violations, accidents, domestic disputes and abuses, and other incidents: Carries out crime scene duties; makes arrest and performs search and seizure; conducts investigations; and interviews witnesses, suspects, and complainants.
Each jurisdiction sets its own salary for Police Officer. Questions about salary should be directed to the appropriate city or town or to the MBTA.
You must take the written examination in order to be placed on the eligible list for appointment as a police officer.
At the examination site, applicants must present a current valid photo identification with their signature, such as a current motor vehicle operators license.
Memorization Ability to memorize and retain new information which occurs as a routine part of the job.
Visualization Ability to form a mental image of what an object will look like after it has been changed in some way.
Spatial orientation Ability to keep a clear idea of where you are in relation to the space in which you are located.
Verbal expression Ability to use spoken or written language to communicate information and ideas to others.
Verbal comprehension Ability to understand spoken and written language.
Problem sensitivity Ability to recognize or identify the existence of a problem.
Deductive reasoning Ability to apply general rules or regulations to specific cases or to proceed from stated principles to logical conclusions.
Inductive reasoning Ability to apply general rules or regulations to specific cases or to proceed from stated principles to logical conclusions.
Information ordering Ability to apply rules to a situation for the purpose of putting the information in the best or most appropriate order.
There is a Preparation Guide, which describes the examination in more detail. Applicants will be sent a written letter on where and how to obtain one.
Private school or service
The Human Resources Division (formerly the Department of Personnel Administration) does not recommend or endorse any private school or service offering preparation for examinations and is not responsible for their advertising claims.
You will be advised at the examination site how to claim any of the preferences listed below.
If you are claiming veteran’s preference and if your eligibility for veterans’ preference has not been approved before by this division, you must submit a copy of your DD form 214 (Release From Active Duty) in order to receive proper credit. Your notice to appear for the examination will indicate whether or not you are already classified as a veteran.
If not, you will need to submit your DD Form 214. Qualifying service must have been in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Air Force of the United States.
Please note that active duty exclusively for training in the National Guard or reserves does NOT qualify you for veteran’s preference.
If the dates of your qualifying military service were:
You are required to have:
before 2/1/55, 90 days active service
from 2/1/55 to 8/4/64, 180 days active service
from 8/5/64 to 6/4/76, 90 days active service
If you entered military service after the close of the Vietnam Era on June 4, 1976, you qualify for veteran’s preference if you had at least 90 days of active duty AND only if you participated in one or more of the following:
The Lebanese Peace Keeping Force between 8/25/82 and withdrawal from Lebanon.
The Grenada Rescue Mission between 10/25/83 and 12/15/83
The Panamanian Intervention Force between 12/20/89 and 1/31/90 a campaign medal for wartime service is required
Active duty during the Persian Gulf Conflict between 8/2/90 and a closing date yet to be determined (no campaign medal required)
Claims for status as a disabled veteran require written confirmation from the us Veterans Administration of a continuing service-connected disability rated 10% or higher. Applicants wishing to claim status as disabled veterans will get the opportunity to claim such at the test site with further instructions to follow. See clause 43, section 7 of Chapter 4 and Section 1 of Chapter 31 of the Massachusetts General Laws for a full definition of a qualifying veteran.
Preference for the children of certain police officers/firefighters
The son or daughter of a Police Officer or Fire Fighter employed in Massachusetts who was killed or died of injuries received in the performance of duty, or who was permanently disabled as a result of injuries received in the performance of duty, is entitled to certification preference under the provisions of Chapter 402 of the Acts of 1985.
If “residency preference” is requested by a municipality, applicants who have resided in that municipality, for the entire twelve month period immediately preceding the date of the examination are entitled to be placed on the eligible list for that community ahead of any nonresidents. Applicants who have had a break in residence or have moved from one community to another within the twelve month period preceding the date of the examination will not be entitled to claim resident preference in any community. You will be asked to fill out a residency preference list form at the test site.
Due to a federal decree, African-American (Black) and Hispanic applicants are given certification preference in a number of communities, whether or not they are residents of those communities . As of the printing of this notice, the following communities are included in this consent decree:
Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Duxbury, Foxboro, Holbrook, Holyoke, Lancaster, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Norton, Pittsfield, Randolph, South Hadley, Springfield, Watertown, Westwood, Williamstown, Winthrop, and Worcester. This list of communities is subject to change. The definition of Hispanic, for the purposes of the decree, includes any person born in a Spanish-speaking country or any person who grew up in a household in which the predominant language spoken was Spanish
Selective certification for emergency medical technicians
If a position in a municipality requires that a Police Officer be an Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Medical Technician- Intermediate, or Emergency Medical Technician- Paramedic, the local appointing authority may request that competition for that position be limited to persons who have such skills. For eligibility on this basis, you may submit a copy of your current certificate (issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health , Office of Emergency Medical Services) at any time during the existence of the eligible list. On the date of the examination, you will have the opportunity to register as a certified emergency medical technician. You will need to supply proof of possession of a current certification as an Emergency Medical Technician at the time of hire.
Selective certification for bilingual police officers
If a position in a municipality requires that a Police Officer Be fluent in a second language (such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Laotian, Khmer, Haitian Creole, or Chinese), The local appointing authority may request that competition for that position be limited to persons who have such skills. You will have the opportunity at the test site to indicate the foreign languages in which you are fluent. You will need to prove your language fluency at the time of hire.
How to apply
All persons interested in a position with the department must first apply at the
Massachusetts Human Resources Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108-1515
You may get your application and file it and the examination processing fee (or fee waiver form) in person or by mail from
Applicants and fee waiver forms may also be available at city and town clerk’s offices and civil service police stations across the state. If you mail your application send all correspondence by certified mail with “return receipt requested”, if possible.
No applicant has the right to a makeup examination due to personal or professional conflicts on the testing date and applicants are advised to consider this before applying.
Fee and fee waiver
Examination processing fee The fee must be paid when you apply. The fee may be waived .
Written test fee
The examination processing fee is $50.00. Please use a money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and print your name, address, Social Security number and the examination announcement number on the front of the money order.
No refunds unless the examination is canceled by the human resources division.
Cash or personal checks will not be accepted.
For more information:
Visiting/telephoning the Human Resources Division (Formerly The Department of Personnel Administration):
You may visit the Human Resources Division Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EXCEPT HOLIDAYS, or may telephone the Division during these hours at the following numbers:
In the Boston area: (617) 727-3777, extension 246
TDD Number: (617) 727-7583
Outside the Boston area toll free 1-800-392-6178
Fax Number (617) 727-4917