California Highway Patrol (CHP) Careers: Job Options and Requirements

California Highway Patrol officers and dispatchers must satisfy a variety of written and physical requirements. Continue reading for an overview of the training as well as career options and salary info for successful candidates.

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California Highway Patrol careers include becoming an officer or a dispatcher. Officers patrol California highways to keep them safe, monitor traffic, and handle accidents. Dispatchers work in dispatch centers taking calls, sending officers to locations where assistance is needed, and tracking officers in the field.

Essential Information

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is the division of law enforcement that is responsible for the safety and security of California's highways. The CHP employs officers and dispatchers that must meet strict standards of excellence set by the CHP.

Career Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Education Requirements High school diploma; postsecondary education preferred High school diploma
Other Requirements Training academy; clean background check and driver's license State-approved training program and certification
Projected National Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* -3%*
Average California Salary (2015) $93,550* $57,140*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*

CHP Officer

An officer for the CHP is responsible for keeping the highways of California safe. Officers work in various districts throughout the state to monitor traffic and handle accidents or other issues that occur on the state's highways. The process of becoming a CHP officer starts with filing an application. Candidates must pass a written test, physical test, an interview, psychological evaluation, background investigation and the CHP Academy training.

CHP Officer Requirements

When applying for a position as a CHP officer, a person must be between the ages of 20-35 years. He or she must have a clean criminal background with no major violations or pattern of law breaking, a valid California driver license and be a U.S. citizen.

A person must have a high school diploma or equivalent, but those with an associate degree or higher receive preference. Coursework in a degree program should focus on English, mathematics, typing, computers, foreign languages and physical fitness.

A person must have a clean bill of health and may not have any condition that would prevent him or her from fulfilling the required duties of an officer. Additionally, a person must meet strict vision standards, including 20/20 vision and normal color vision.

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CHP Dispatcher

A CHP dispatcher is responsible for communications at the highway patrol dispatch center. Dispatchers receive emergency calls from the public and dispatch officers to the scene as needed. Dispatchers must monitor radio systems, officers on duty, complaints, incidents and emergency systems. The main job duty is to ensure the safety of the public and the officers on duty through orchestrating proper dispatching of units and handling emergency calls as they arrive.

CHP Dispatcher Requirements

To become a CHP dispatcher a person must meet work experience requirements. Work experience may come from dispatching, telephone work, college credits, work in a field that required quick decision-making or training in a law enforcement-related field. A person must also type at least forty words per minute. Other requirements include a record of good job attendance, ability to work any shift or day required, normal hearing and passing a drug test.

CHP dispatchers must also successfully complete four weeks of training at the California Highway Patrol Academy or Clark Training Center. Training covers a variety of topics, including codes, officer safety, stress management, map reading, basic radio communications, dispatching procedures and human relations. Further training is given after a dispatcher has on-the-job experience.

Career Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that police and sheriff's patrol officers nationwide could expect only a 5% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024 but didn't have information on job growth in California, in particular. However, the BLS did show that in 2015, police and sheriff's patrol officers in California earned a mean annual salary of $93,550. A 3% decrease in employment opportunities was expected for dispatchers from 2014-2024, and the mean California salary for those professionals was $57,140 in 2015, per the BLS.

Highway patrol officers require a high school diploma, meeting age, background, psychological and physical requirements, and passing a exam. Dispatchers must meet work experience, drug testing, hearing and typing requirements and may require the completion of some college coursework.

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