2022 State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy: How to Apply and What to Expect

Are you ready to “Live the Parks Life” in a rewarding and exciting career? California State Parks invites you to apply for the 2022 State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Cadet Academy. From now until Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the department is accepting applications for those interested in serving as a ranger or lifeguard in the nation’s largest state park system. 

The entire recruitment process takes approximately 15 to 18 months to complete and includes a POST written exam, physical agility test, background investigation, oral interview, and medical and psychological assessments. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a possibility that the traditional timeline may change. We recommend keeping your contact information current so that you are notified immediately of any necessary changes. All in-person phases of the recruitment cycle will continue under new COVID-19 safety guidelines.

State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Ranger Briana Kennedy-Feldhaus with K-9 Tyr. Photo from California State Parks.

To help you prepare for the exciting journey ahead, here is a timeline of what to expect:

April 2021: Applications Open

On April 1, 2021, State Parks started accepting applications for the 2022 SPPO Cadet Academy. Please mail your official application package using the standard state application form (STD 678). If you are interested in both the ranger and lifeguard classification, please submit two separate applications. To learn more about the how to apply and on the required documentation, explore the links below or visit the SPPO Cadet Selection Process webpage:  

Ranger Exam Bulletin   I   Lifeguard Exam Bulletin

June 2021: Application Deadline

The final filing date for the 2022 SPPO Cadet Academy is Tuesday, June 15, 2021. When mailing your application, be sure that your application package is postmarked on or before June 15 to ensure that your application is considered. We recommend sending your application package via registered mail. 

August to September 2021: POST Exam 

If your application package is accepted, you will receive a notification in late July or early August to report in person to the POST written examination. This exam is part of the certification process. and is an Entry-level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB). To help prepare for this exam, review the practice test:

Candidates that successfully complete the POST exam will receive notification to proceed to the next phase.

October to November 2021: Physical Agility Test

The next part of the SPPO Cadet process is the physical agility test (PAT). This portion of the process is subject to change, so be sure to check your mail regularly to be notified of any modifications to the traditional timeline. Here is what to expect:  

  • PAT: Each candidate is required to complete a six-part PAT. We recommend starting the training process early and getting a good night’s rest before your scheduled test so that you are prepared to do your best. If you are a lifeguard candidate, you are required to perform an additional running and open water swim test. To learn more about what this entails, read more about the PATs here.

Those who successfully complete each phase up to this point will then immediately receive their background investigation packet. Complete each portion of the background investigation packet and mail it back to the office listed as soon as possible. 

December to March 2021: Background Investigations 

The next step in the process is the background investigation. The background investigation requires that all candidates share information about their employment, education and financial history, including any military service or criminal history. The investigators conducting the background investigations will speak with your family, friends, coworkers, employers, teachers, and classmates. It is imperative that candidates are honest during this comprehensive review. It is during this time that candidates will also be asked to participate in an oral interview. 

May to August 2022: Medical and Psychological Assessments 

Once the background investigation is complete, conditional offers of employment are given to candidates who successfully pass their background comprehensive review. During this time, candidates receive written notification to participate in the medical and psychological assessments as well as a drug-screening. You will also be asked to submit a medical history statement that is reviewed by a state doctor. 

Basic Visitor Services Training (BVST) 45 Academy. Photo from California State Parks.

October to June 2021: Cadet Academy

Once all the above requirements and steps are successfully completed, you will receive a letter of acceptance to attend the SPPO Cadet Academy. Congratulations!

While attending the academy, cadets will earn a salary and health benefits including retirement, paid sick time, and more. Some cadets may even be entitled to a living expenses stipend. Most, if not all, of the training for cadets will be completed at the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy located in Butte County (Northern California). To learn more about the academy and what to expect, explore our frequently asked questions here

Get Ready to “Live the Parks Life” 

Now is your chance to begin the adventure of a lifetime! Send in your application by June 15, 2021 and come #LiveTheParksLife! 

To learn more about the entire selection process, visit LiveTheParksLife.com or email recruiting@parks.ca.gov.

California State Parks offers both SPPO Ranger and Lifeguard opportunities. Pictured: Channel Coast dive team members. Photo from California State Parks.
SPPO Ranger David Elias and K-9 Aki. Photo from California State Parks.

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