State Park Peace Officer Cadet Selection Process

Now Accepting Applications for the State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger/Lifeguard) Exams March 24 through June 10, 2023


Discover Your Dream Career in Law Enforcement with California State Parks

California State Parks is now inviting qualified applicants to take the State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Cadet Ranger/Lifeguard exams. This is the first step in the hiring process for the 2024 State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Cadet Academy, a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified law enforcement academy that prepares cadets for a career as a State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Ranger or Lifeguard.

The eight-month sponsored academy includes how to conduct investigations, make physical arrests, use firearms, perform emergency response, and how to assist visitors and run interpretive programs. The State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger/Lifeguard) Academy is the perfect opportunity for those interested in a fulfilling law enforcement career with California State Parks.

Upon graduation from the State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy, you are a fully sworn PC830.2 Peace Officer.

Apply to take the exam by Saturday, June 10, 2023.

How to Apply

The first step in the hiring process is to submit your application package to take the exam. You may submit your application packet by mail, in person, or by email.

Please submit your Official State Application Form (STD678) and Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire to take State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Cadet exam by Saturday, June 10.

We encourage you to include an unofficial college transcript. If submitting your application package by mail, we encourage you to use certified mail.


Department of Parks and Recreation
Attention: Selections Unit/Jacques Carter
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001


Department of Parks and Recreation
Attention: Selections Unit/Jacques Carter
715 P Street, 1st floor Security Desk
Sacramento, CA 95814


When completing your application, be sure to include the following:

  • Exam Title: Indicate which you are applying for: State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger) OR State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Lifeguard)
  • Exam Code:
    1. State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger) (3PR14)
    2. State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Lifeguard) (3PR15)

Include all your educational and work experience, show how you have met the minimum qualifications, and include any additional relevant information

The minimum qualifications, desired qualifications, test dates, and additional instructions for applying can be found in the official assessment bulletins:

State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger)
State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Lifeguard)

When completing your application, take your time, double-check your spelling, and have a friend or family member proofread your application package prior to submitting it. Be sure to sign and date both your State Application Form (STD678) and your Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire.

After receiving your application packet, our exams team will verify that you have met the minimum qualifications. You will then receive a notification to attend the PELLETB Written Exam and the Physical Agility Tests (PAT). After successfully completing the exams and background check, candidates will be eligible to apply for the State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy.

After successfully graduating from the cadet academy, graduates will be assigned to their park, with the ability to transfer within their assigned district after one year. After two years, they will have a post and bid option to transfer out of their assigned district.

Use these forms to apply:

Official STD 678 Application Form

Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire

We encourage you to explore: Frequently Asked Questions.

Questions about how to apply? Connect with our Recruitment Team at

Being a State Park Peace Officer is a physically demanding profession. In accordance with Government Code 18930, all candidates will be required to successfully complete a physical agility test (PAT). The purpose of the PAT is to ensure that applicants who are eventually hired and assigned to a training academy will be able to meet the physical requirements of the job. Per the department's discretion, the test battery may be subject to change.

The department's PAT is part of the selection process, and is scheduled in both Northern and Southern California. Please note, however, that all Cadet (Lifeguard) applicants are scheduled to attend testing in Southern California only.

PAT elements are listed below. Each of these physical tasks is designed to simulate physical abilities required at entry to the class of State Park Ranger or Lifeguard.

TestPhysical AbilityDefinition

1.5-mile run

Aerobic Capacity

The ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients to working cells during prolonged physical activity.

300-meter sprint

Anaerobic Capacity

The capacity to run bodily systems without using oxygen. It contrasts with aerobic capacity, which requires oxygen as fuel.


Upper Body Muscular Endurance

The ability of the upper body muscle group to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.


Abdominal Muscular Endurance

The ability of the abdominal muscle group to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.

Vertical Jump


The ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert a maximum amount of force in the shortest period of time.

Illinois Run


The ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control.

Survival Swim

Personal Water Rescue

This test demonstrates the ability to survive an unexpected fall into the water.  (FOR RANGER CANDIDATES ONLY).

Pre-Test (Lifeguard candidates perform these tests before tests 1 - 6 of the PAT): 


Ocean Swim

This test measures the cardiovascular fitness to conduct life-saving rescues in open water.

Swim 1,000 yards in the ocean.

Minimum Requirements
Completed in 20 minutes or less.


This test measures the aerobic fitness and endurance of leg muscles to conduct life-saving rescues in open water.

Run 200 yards. Complete a 400-yard ocean swim. Run 200 yards.

Minimum Requirements
Completed in 10 minutes or less.


Survival Swim

This test demonstrates the ability to survive an unexpected fall into the water.)

While wearing a swimsuit and simulated duty belt, the participant will jump feet first (“pencil dive” into the pool). The participant will remove the simulated duty belt and tread water for one minute prior to swimming 20 yards.

The participant is not permitted to touch the sides of the pool while treading water or swimming 20 yards. The participant is not permitted to float but must tread water. Any stroke is permitted during the 20-yard swim.

Minimum Requirements
Completion of test.


1.5-mile run

This test measures aerobic fitness and leg muscles endurance.

The aim of this test is to complete the 1.5-mile course in the shortest possible time. At the start, all the participants line up behind the starting line. On the command ‘Go,’ the clock will start, and you will begin running at your own pace. Although walking is authorized, it is strongly discouraged. A cool down walk should be performed at the completion of the test.

No physical contact with any other runners is permitted.

Minimum Requirements
Completion in 15 minutes or less.

300-meter run

To measure anaerobic capacity.

The aim of this test is to complete 300 meters in the quickest possible time. Ensure that a good warm up is conducted before the test, including a jog, stretches and some short sprints. To start, all participants line up behind the starting line. On the command ‘go,’ the clock will start, and they will begin running.

No physical contact with any other runners is permitted.

Minimum Requirements
Completion in 70 seconds or less.


Push-ups are used to assess the strength and endurance of the upper body muscle groups.

The aim of this test is to perform as many push-ups as possible in one minute. The starting position is with your arms straight, elbows locked, body straight, hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with fingers pointing forward and both feet on the floor. From the starting position, on the command ‘Go,’ start the push-up by bending your elbows and lowering your body until the shoulders drop below the level of the elbows (90 degrees), then return to the starting position. Pausing to rest is permitted only in the up (starting) position.

For the push-up to be counted, the body must remain rigid in a generally straight line, and move as a unit while performing each rep, and the technique as described must be adhered to. If you rest at any time on the ground or raise either hand or foot from the ground, the test will be terminated. The test is also terminated if there is a failure of proper body alignment (shoulders, back, buttocks, and legs in a straight line with head and heels).

Minimum Requirements
Completion of 19 repetitions with no time limit.


This test measures the endurance of the abdominal and hip-flexor muscles.

The aim of this test is to perform as many sit-ups as you can in one minute. The starting position is lying on your back with your knees bent (heels approximately 10 inches from your buttocks) and feet flat on the floor. Arms should be folded across your chest with hands touching your upper chest or shoulders. A second person is permitted to hold the lower legs or ankles to keep the feet on the floor. On the command ‘Go,’ start the crunch by raising your upper body forward till the elbows touch the thighs while maintaining contact between your hands and chest/shoulders. Then return to the floor until your shoulder blades and lower back touch the ground. This is counted as one complete sit up. Repeat this for one minute.

No bouncing or arching of the lower back is allowed, and the buttocks and feet must remain in constant contact with the floor throughout the test. Resting during the exercise is permitted in the up position but cannot hold on to their legs in order to stay up. The test will be terminated if legs are straightened or lifted up, buttocks comes off the ground, or fails to keep hands on chest.

Minimum Requirements
Completion of 25 repetitions in one minute.

Vertical jump

To measure leg muscle power.

The participant stands side on to a wall (Vertec device) and reaches up with the hand closest to the wall (Vertec device). Keeping the feet flat on the ground, the point of the fingertips is marked or recorded. This is called the standing reach height. The participant then stands away from the wall (Vertec device), squats, pauses, then leaps vertically as high as possible using both arms and legs to assist in projecting the body upwards. Attempt to touch the wall (Vertec device) at the highest point of the jump. The difference in distance between the standing reach height and the jump height is the score. The best of three attempts is recorded.

The jumping technique cannot use a countermovement.

Minimum Requirement
Reach a minimum height of 12 inches.

Illinois agility run

To test running agility using various turns and movements.

Participants will lie on their front (head to the start line) and hands by their shoulders. On the 'Go' command the time is started. The participant gets up as quickly as possible, runs forward 10 meters, around a cone, then back 10 meters. The participant continues by running up and back through a slalom course of four cones. Finally, the participant runs another 10 meters up and back past the finish cone, at which the timing is stopped. Two trials should be completed, with the best score recorded.

Participants must go around each cone without stepping on them or over them. If a participant falls, they may continue the test as long as they have not missed a cone within the correct pattern.

Minimum Requirements
Completion in 23 seconds or less.

Survival Swim

This test demonstrates the ability to survive an unexpected fall into the water.)

While wearing a swimsuit and simulated duty belt, the participant will jump feet first (“pencil dive” into the pool). The participant will remove the simulated duty belt and tread water for one minute prior to swimming 20 yards.

The participant is not permitted to touch the sides of the pool while treading water or swimming 20 yards. The participant is not permitted to float but must tread water. Any stroke is permitted during the 20-yard swim.

Minimum Requirements
Completion of test.

In addition to the PAT described above, POST requires that cadets must complete a 36-session physical conditions program at the academy.  This conditioning program consists of aerobic, strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility conditioning. Cadets must pass the POST Work Sample Test Battery during the physical training portion of the Academy.

Vertical Jump
1.5 Mile Run
300 Meter Sprint
Illinois Agility Test



3500 Reed Ave, West Sacramento, CA 95605

38°35'45.1"N 121°33'28.5"W      38.595903828625815, -121.55779641665684 (Google Maps)

HCWR+86 West Sacramento, California


Northern California Physical Agility Test Location



2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

33°40'16.9"N 117°54'30.4"W      33.67137234618352, -117.90843374044762 (Google Maps)

M3CR+HJ Costa Mesa, California


Southern California Physical Agility Test Location




21601 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92646 (PCH and Magnolia Entrance)

33°38'24.6"N 117°58'29.8"W      33.64017861708166, -117.97494898285946

J2QG+6H Huntington Beach, California

  • Please advise the entrance kiosk you will be doing the Physical Agility Swim
  • Park your vehicle on the north side of the restrooms next to the basketball court
  • Check in will be on the basketball court
  • After checking in you will be sent to the pop-up canopy at the “Test Site"


Southern California Swim Test Location




Sweatpants, shorts, leggings, capri pants, etc.

Compression shorts are required.


T-shirts (long or short-sleeved), compression shirts, sweatshirts, etc.

No mid-drift, tank tops, or sleeveless shirts. Sports bra required, as applicable.


Any style closed-toe shoe is acceptable. Running or good quality exercise shoe is recommended.

No open-toed shoes or heavy boots.


Jammers, swim trunks, board shorts, swim leggings, rashguards, one or two-piece suits, full body suits, etc.

No thong-style suits. Flip flops or shower shoes are required to be worn in the swim/changing area. A towel is required for the swim test. These requirements are for ranger candidates only who are required to complete a survival swim in the pool.


The ocean swim test will be conducted for lifeguard candidates only. This swim test will be conducted the morning of your scheduled physical agility testing appointment.


Wetsuits, caps, and goggles are acceptable and recommended.

Water temperature varies.


Upon completion of the PAT you will be directed to the Pellet-B Written Exam. After you have completed the Pellet-B Written Exam you will meet with the background investigators, and this may take an additional hour. Business casual dress is recommended. For all candidates - it is recommended that you bring bottled water and/or some brand of sports drink with you.


Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission Regulation 1951 mandates that peace officers be able to read and write at the levels necessary to perform the job of a peace officer as determined by the use of the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) or other professionally developed and validated test of reading and writing ability. Because performance on the PELLETB is highly correlated with performance in the academy, many agencies and academies use the PELLETB as an indicator of readiness for a career in law enforcement. California State Parks requires the PELLETB as a tool to evaluate a candidates reading and writing skills.


The POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) measures skills that are associated with successful performance as a California peace officer. Because the PELLETB is an aptitude test, the skills measured are acquired gradually over a long period of time (usually years). There is no quick or easy way to improve these skills in preparation for the exam. The only way to predictably improve scores on an aptitude test is through extensive learning and practice (e.g., coursework, training).

Because the PELLETB is primarily a language aptitude test, one must already possess solid language skills to perform well on the test. There are a few exercises that can be helpful in maximizing performance if solid language skills are already in place.


The first two components of the PELLETB focus on language ability: one evaluates writing ability and the other tests reading ability. The writing component of the test measures clarity, vocabulary, and spelling. The reading component measures reading comprehension. The third component of the exam focuses on reasoning ability.

Writing Ability

Each of the three writing sub-tests contains 18 items. In the clarity sub-test, sentences are presented, and the test-taker is asked to identify which sentence is most clearly and correctly written. Only common writing errors (e.g., unclear references, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences) are included in the clarity portion of the exam.

The spelling sub-test uses a standard multiple-choice format. A sentence is given with one word omitted. A blank indicates the location of the omitted word. Four alternative spellings of the same word are given. The test taker is asked to identify the word that is correctly spelled for the given context.

The vocabulary sub-test also uses a standard multiple-choice format. One word in a sentence is underlined and the test taker is instructed to select the alternative that is the most accurate synonym or definition. The words included in the spelling and vocabulary tests are common words that may be encountered in law enforcement work.

Reading Ability

Reading ability is measured through the use of two sub-tests. The first is a 28-item reading comprehension sub-test. This sub-test presents passages which vary in length from a single paragraph to one page. After reading the passage, test takers answer multiple-choice questions about the information contained in the passage. All passages cover common concepts and contain the information necessary to answer the questions.

The second measure of reading ability is the 40-item CLOZE sub-test. Test takers are presented with a passage of text. In each passage, the first and last sentences of the passage are complete. Between the first and last sentences, every seventh word is systematically deleted from the text. No word is deleted that cannot be deduced from context. In place of each deleted word is a dashed line. Each dash represents one letter in the deleted word. The test taker must use contextual clues to determine what words would logically complete the passage. The word must come from the test taker's vocabulary as no alternative words or lists of words are presented in the test. A word is considered correct if it is syntactically correct and semantically appropriate (i.e., words selected by the test taker must be the right part of speech and must make sense in the passage). In some instances, there is more than one correct response; in others, only one word can correctly fill the blank. In instances where more than one word is correct, the test taker receives credit as long as he/she selects a word that fits within the context.

Reasoning Ability

The reasoning ability sub-test contains 9 items. The reasoning sub-test uses a standard multiple-choice format. Information such as groups or ordered series of facts, numbers, letters, or words are presented. The test taker analyzes information and uses patterns, commonalities, and relationships to answer questions about the information presented.


When POST electronically scans test answers, statistical calculations are performed to convert raw scores (the number of items answered correctly) into a “T-score.” A T-score is a standardized score that places an individual’s performance on the test into a distribution (bell-shaped curve) with a midpoint (average) of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. If the individual’s score falls around 50, his/her performance is considered “average” when compared to other applicants who have taken the test. Scores of 40 or below are considered “below average.” Scores of 60 or above are considered “above average.” Research shows that the likelihood of successful academy completion increases for every point scored above 42.

All responses provided by the test taker are a part of the ongoing analyses of the test battery.

exam graph

The graph above provides a visual representation of T scores. The bell is comprised of many individual test scores. The bell is widest in the middle because most scores fall in and around the middle. This is why scores near the midpoint of 50 are considered “average.”


Can I take the PELLETB elsewhere?

Yes, unfortunately there is not a list of providers that offer the test, so you would need to contact agencies or academies directly to determine if it is offered.

How do I get my test results?

For security reasons, POST is unable to provide test results directly to applicants or other unauthorized persons. All agencies/academies that use the PELLETB are required to provide applicants with their test results within 30 days of the test administration. If it has been less than 30 days, please allow time for the agency/academy to process your results. If it has been more than 30 days, contact the agency where the PELLETB was originally administered to inquire about your results. Alternately, an authorized agency representative (i.e., an individual listed on a current POST Security Agreement) from any of POST’s user agencies can contact POST on your behalf to obtain your results.

How long is my test score good for?

A score on the POST test has no shelf life; therefore, a candidate may submit the department letter from the previous administration to the prospective employer. Individual departments, however, have the discretion to establish their own acceptable time frames for the shelf life of a reading and writing test.

If I took the PELLETB with another provider, do I have to take it again with California State Parks?

Not for the purposes of satisfying POST requirements. Departments who use the POST test are required to provide candidates with a letter indicating their t-score. California State Parks has elected, at its discretion, of accepting this letter as evidence that the candidate has met the POST reading and writing standard, if the score is deemed acceptable. The test must have occurred within 12 months.

Can I take the exam multiple times?

Yes, however, before you can retest, you must wait for a period of one month (30 calendar days) before taking the exam again. This applies even if the exam is taken through a different department/agency than the original exam.

What if I retest within 30 days?

If you retest within 30 days either with the same or a different department/agency, your test results will be invalidated. You MUST wait at least 30 calendar days prior to retaking the test.


Visit this page for further information on preparing for the PELLETB exam.

As part of your academy training, you will be required to participate in the Basic Academy Lifetime Fitness Program and to demonstrate acceptable physical readiness by completing a job-related Work Sample Test Battery (WSTB). Full participation in the fitness program and successful completion of the WSTB are required by POST.

These objectives are achieved by means of a three-fold educational process.  First, you will receive classroom instruction on the subjects of: physical fitness as a lifetime pursuit, low-back care, nutrition, weight management, substance abuse, stress management, and self-evaluation. Second, you will be introduced to the goals and objectives of the fitness program through individual assessment and exposure to the WSTB courses. Third, you will participate in a series of conditioning sessions which systematically embrace a wide variety of physical exercises.  These activities include physical conditioning through strength and flexibility exercises and the enhancement of your cardiovascular fitness through various aerobic exercises.  Your “entry-fitness level” and the subsequent improvement of your physical condition through training will dictate the progression of exercise.

The actual physical conditioning phase of the program is organized into 60-minute sessions. In most instances, the program will consist of two or three 60-minute sessions per week.  Each is designed to address muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility.  The relative emphasis given to each of these types of conditioning varies from session to session. All exercises within an exercise session are designed to maximize the development of those physical abilities needed to function as a patrol officer.

Cadets should be in good physical condition when they arrive for training, already engaged in a personal fitness program. The better your condition, the lower your risk of injury will be. This is vital because injuries are among the most common reasons that cadets fail to complete the program.

To ensure the least amount of potential injury and greatest amount of success, cadets will be required to complete a workout log once accepted to the academy. A sample workout program will be provided at that time.  If you are not prepared, it will show, and you will likely have great difficulty succeeding. Do not put the additional stress on yourself that is unneeded.

Suggested elements of an exercise program include:

  • Aerobic Conditioning: 3-5 days per week, 20-60 minutes each day, continuous jogging on most days each week.
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance: 2-3 days per week, one set of 8-10 exercises including upper body, core, and legs, 8-20 repetitions per set.
  • Grip / Wrist / Forearm Exercises: Exercises with hand grips and stress balls will help to build and condition your hand, wrist, and forearm strength. This type of strength is critical for effective handgun and other weapon use, as well as tactical and rescue requirements of the job.
  • Flexibility / Static Stretching: at least 2-3 days per week, preferably 5-7 days, 8-12 stretches each day, hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat each 2-4 times.

Work to achieve continuous participation at the above-described levels that lasts for six months without injury. If your exercise program does not meet these specifications, then you should consider taking a body conditioning, weight training, or jogging class as needed. If you are not prepared, it will show, and you will likely have great difficulty succeeding. Do not put the additional stress on yourself that is unneeded.