Sheriff: Career Summary, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Sheriffs are elected law enforcement officials that supervise sworn police officers within a jurisdiction. Read on to learn more about the job duties and education requirements for this career. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are My Duties as a Sheriff?

As a sheriff, you are typically employed by a county government to oversee a team of deputies as they carry out police functions within their jurisdiction. As chief administrator in police services for your county, you may also go out on patrol, make arrests, act on warrants and provide protective custody. Your other duties can include operating the county jail, transporting inmates to different correctional facilities, testifying in court and managing emergency scenes.

How Is My Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2008, police employment, including sheriff positions, was expected to grow by ten percent through 2018, in line with the national average for all job growth (www.bls.gov). Demand for your services may be driven by the growing need for police protection as the population in the United States increases. The BLS reported that police supervisors, including sheriffs, had an annual average salary of $80,770 in May 2010.

What Are My Education Requirements?

Although sheriff requirements can vary by location, you usually need to have a high school diploma, have no criminal record and be at least 21 years old. You may need to pass physical and psychological exams as well. Upon satisfactory completion of these first steps, you can then complete specialized training at a police training academy, which usually takes 3-6 months. As a trainee, you may receive instruction in firearms use, emergency vehicle driving, crowd control, defensive tactics and emergency response.

After graduating from the police academy, you can start as a sworn officer or sheriff's deputy and rise through the ranks. You may improve your chances of career advancement by completing a college-level degree in criminal justice, police science or public administration. Your department may also be willing to pay all or part of your tuition if you choose to pursue post-secondary education. Keep in mind that many sheriffs are elected to their positions, so you may have to campaign for an available opening.

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