How to Become a New York Police Department Captain

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A New York police captain starts as a police officer and works his way up the career ladder. After mastering job skills in one rank, the officer takes a civil service exam to increase his rank. The highest starting salary of a NYPD captain is $146,000 a year plus benefits, so many officers want to reach captain because of the lucrative salary. Every captain starts as a cadet in the police academy before becoming a police officer. Officers advance to detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and finally captains.

Ask your personnel department to verify your eligibility for the Promotion to Captain exam. Eligibility depends on your status as a full-time employee for the NYCPD or NYPD corrections, or by being placed on the preferred list. Men and women who qualified but did not receive a job are eligible for preferred lists.

Verify the dates of the Civil Service Promotion to Captain exam with New York Citywide Administrative Services. There are two promotions exams available: Corrections Department and NYCPD. Make sure you select the correct exam, and that you are available to take the exam on those dates. Civil service Promotion to Captain exams take place every four years, so it's important to do your best.

Print a copy of the Promotion to Captain (NYCPD) Test No. 5535 or the Promotion to Captain (Corrections) Test No. 2501. Read the paperwork thoroughly. Verify that you have the required college credits and have a valid New York driver's license.

Fill out the application form and enclose a check for the testing fee and mail it to the address listed on the application. As of 2011, the fee is $65 to $88, depending on the test you take. Ten days before the test, watch the mail for your exam admission card. If you do not receive a card, go to the Examining Service Section at 1 Centre St. in Manhattan and ask for a duplicate card.

Bring the exam admission card and a photo driver's license to the exam location listed on the admission card. Make sure you have No. 2 pencils available. A handheld calculator that uses solar power or battery is also allowed. A score of 70 is necessary to pass the exam. (See reference 2 and 3)


Passing the exam is not a guarantee that you will be promoted to captain. If there are others competing for the job opening, seniority, awards and training are used to choose the best candidate. (See reference 2 and 3)