Tips for Applying to the 2022 State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy

Basic Visitor Services Training (BVST) 45 at Butte College in Oroville during a recent training exercise for the Cadet Academy. Photo from California State Parks.

Are you wondering how to start your career as a State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Ranger or Lifeguard? Applying to attend the SPPO Cadet Academy is the first step in the process. We understand that it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes time to complete your application. Breathe easy, the California State Parks Recruitment Team is here to help you!   

To help demystify the recruitment process, we have compiled a list of tips that may help you prepare.  


  1. Use the standard state application form STD 678. This is the official application form used for all exams and vacancies for all state agencies. Complete the STD 678 in its entirety. It may be tempting to reference your resume to save time, however you must complete the application to be considered for this opportunity. 
  2. Use the correct postage and mail your application package no later than Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Reviewers will be looking at the date stamp on the envelope!
  3. Double check the mailing address and what you are mailing. Does it include all the required forms? Remember to include the Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire
  4. You may not immediately hear back that your application package was received. Consider mailing your application package via Certified Mail and provide yourself with the peace of mind.
  5. Use action words to describe your work and volunteer experience. You read that right! Volunteer experience is credited towards your professional experience too. 
  6. Check your spelling. Consider printing out your application and proofreading it before you mail it. 
  7. Question #7 and #8 on page one of the application form are often overlooked. There is a minimum age requirement and responding to question #7 helps the reviewer ensure that you meet this requirement. You are also required to have a valid California driver’s license. Question #8 lets the reviewer know you have one.
  8. Carve out time to focus on completing your application. It can take time to remember all your work and educational history! Be sure to make some “me time” to begin the steps toward your dream career. 
  9. Include a copy of your unofficial transcript with your application package. While it is not required, we highly recommend it to help reviewers know you meet the minimum education requirement. You may want to note that you will need an official copy when completing the Background Investigation phase of the recruitment cycle.
  10. Include certificates that you may have earned. This is a great way to stand out from the crowd!  
  11. Evaluate your social media footprint. Is it sending the right message about who you are?
  12. Speak with your social circle. Let your friends and family know that you are applying for this opportunity. Background investigators may reach out to them too. They may even contact current and past employers and co-workers! 
  13. Start preparing for the Physical Agility Test (PAT) now. The PATs will consist of six different phases meant to simulate different scenarios you may face as a Ranger or Lifeguard. To learn more on what to expect, you can find descriptions of each phase at State Park Peace Officer Cadet Selection Process. You can even watch a brief video!  
  14. Join the Parks Jobs mailing list to receive notifications about opportunities, invitation to webinars and more resources meant to help you through the SPPO Cadet recruitment process. 
  15. Explore for more details. We have links to resources for you to discover! 
  16. Are you interested in both opportunities? You will need to mail separate applications for each. Review the bulletins here: State Park Peace Officer Cadet – Ranger and State Park Peace Officer Cadet – Lifeguard.
  17. Did you know California Human Resources (CalHR) offers the Veteran’s Preference Benefit? If you are a veteran or within six months of discharge, you can apply for the Veteran’s Preference Benefit through CalHR. California State Parks appreciates your service and honors this benefit. Before you mail your application package, send a copy of your DD214 along with a completed Veteran’s Preference Application Form (CALHR 1093) to:

California Department of Human Resources
ATTN: Examination Unit
1515 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Still not sure how to proceed? Connect with the Recruitment Team at We are happy to help!

Members of BVST 45 at Butte College. Top row (left to right): Cadet Bruck, Cadet Bell, Cadet Do. Bottom row (left to right): Cadet Valenzuela, Cadet Nelson, Cadet Lucero. Cadets in blue uniforms will be State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Lifeguards and those in khaki will be SPPO Rangers. Photo from California State Parks.
Butte College BVST 43 Graduation © 2020, California State Parks.

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