Sworn Careers

How to Apply

Testing for entry-level officers and cadets resumes in August. Click the links below to apply.

The Howard County Police Department is a nationally accredited agency of more than 700 men and women dedicated to creating a better quality of life for the citizens of Howard County. Our officers demonstrate the highest standards and are guided by the agency’s values: Integrity, Pride and Community.

The department’s size is just right for those who want a law enforcement career with many different opportunities. The department is small enough that officers have the chance to work in numerous specialty units, but large enough to have all the best equipment, services and technology.

The department is currently looking for ambitious men and women seeking careers in law enforcement who are able to meet our high standards.

If you are interested in joining one of the most progressive police departments in the country, you must successfully complete a written exam, physical agility test, personal history questionnaire, oral interview, polygraph examination, background investigation, medical examination and psychological screening.

Quick links
The next testing process will open in March 2020.
Sample written test
Physician’s authorization form (required for physical testing)

For additional information, contact the recruiter at 410-313-HCPD or email recruitment@howardcountymd.gov.

Fitness Test Demonstration


  • Starting salary: $57,092* for entry-level, $61,145* for lateral (*effective Jan., 2020)
  • Health, dental and life insurance
  • Vacation, disability and personal leave
  • Retirement plan (50% of pay after 20 years of service; 75% of pay after 25 years of service; 80% of pay after 30 years of service)
  • All equipment and uniforms, including shoes, with free dry cleaning services 
  • Take-home police vehicles for county residents 
  • Night shift and multi-lingual differential pay 
  • 12-hour permanent patrol shifts with four hours overtime guaranteed each pay
  • Three-hour minimum overtime pay for off-duty court appearances 
  • Deferred compensation
  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Specialty pay for certain assignments 
  • Career development programs 
  • Bonus for laterals

Qualifications (entry-level)

  • U.S. citizen
  • At least 21 years of age by the swearing-in ceremony
  • 60 college credits OR two years of active military service OR a minimum of two years of police service in a full-service agency (out-of-state)
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

Qualifications (lateral)

  • U.S. citizen 
  • Two years of experience with a full service Maryland police agency 
  • Possess a current Maryland Police Training Commission certificate 
  • Valid driver’s license 


  • No felony convictions
  • No serious misdemeanor convictions, defined as any crime that would carry more than 1-year incarceration
  • Been convicted or otherwise found guilty of selling, manufacturing, or distributing a controlled dangerous substance, narcotic drug, or marijuana.
  • Ever illegally sold, produced, cultivated, distributed, or transported a controlled dangerous substance, narcotic drug, or marijuana.
  • Ever illegally used a controlled dangerous substance, narcotic drug, or marijuana while employed to enforce federal, state, or local law by any government entity.
  • No use of heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • No CDS usage within three (3) years prior to the start of the academy (including marijuana)
  • CDS usage of no more than five (5) times lifetime or once since turning twenty-one (21) years of age (minus marijuana) 
  • No DUI/DWI within the past five (5) years 
  • No more than three (3) current points on driver’s license
  • Cannot have received a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge from the military
  • No tattoos on head, neck, face, or hands
  • No visible, intentional, body mutilation, piercing, branding or intentional scarring  


Do I have to fill out an application before taking the written test?

Yes, you need to complete an application prior to your arrival, on our online platform. You will receive electronic confirmation of your submission and available test dates.  Upon receiving your assigned test date, simply show up with a photo ID and your signed, physician’s authorization form.

What does the written exam consist of?  

The written examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You will be given two hours to complete the exam. There are five sections to the test, including reading comprehension, quantitative problem solving, interpretation, writing skills and verbal problem solving.

Do I have to sign up to take the physical test?  

Upon passing the written exam, you are eligible to take the physical test on that date or one thereafter. Ensure that you have a fully completed and signed physician’s authorization form to take the physical test.

How long will the hiring process take?  

The hiring process involves various steps and could take between three to six months. Your cooperation in completing the necessary paperwork at each stage of the process will help make the process quicker.

When is the next test date?  

Written and physical exams are offered on an ongoing basis. If you fail the written test, you may retest after six months. If you fail the physical ability test, you may retake the test the next time it’s offered.

Where does testing take place?  

All testing is held at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center, 2200 Scott Wheeler Drive, Marriottsville, MD 21104.

What is the proper attire for testing? 

Suit and tie are not required. We prefer you come dressed in gym clothes.

Is the academy a live-in academy?  

No, the academy is non-residential. The academy is held Monday-Friday, typically from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Based on training needs, some weekends and evening hours are required.

Am I paid while attending the academy?  

Yes, you will be paid at the rate stated on your hire date.

What is the maximum age to become a police officer?  

There is no age limit. As long as you’re able to pass all phases of the process, you’re eligible.

Will my military experience help?  

Each applicant is evaluated individually throughout the application process. It is a very competitive process, and as such, every aspect of your life is considered when making a selection for hire.

Can I go to school while I’m employed with the police department

Yes. The Howard County Police Department offers tuition reimbursement at any accredited college of your choice upon completion of six months of service.

After graduating from the academy, can I request an assignment?  

You are assigned based on operational needs. A request may be honored if operational needs allow.

When can I apply for a specialty assignment, such as criminal investigations or tactical section?

You may apply for a specialty position after the completion of your 12-month probationary period (lateral officers) 18-month probationary period (entry-level officers). Your probationary period begins at the date of hire.

If not selected, may I reapply?

Eligibility for re-application will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applicants that fail the written exam may retest after a six month waiting period. Applicants that fail the physical ability test may retest for up to six months from the signature date on their physician’s authorization form.