If your dream is to work in law enforcement officer who enforces the law in a county or a state, you may be interested in learning how to become a sheriff. As a sheriff, your primary goal is to promote the safety of the public and to enforce the law of the state by patrolling areas and investigating crimes. Since there will always be crime and a need for civil and criminal laws, there will always be a need for honest and brave enforcement officers. Read this guide and learn about the steps that you must take to become an officer within the sheriff’s department.
Enter a Police Academy to Get Training and Certification
One of the first steps to becoming a sheriff is to first complete the police academy. This is training that all officers must complete to show that they know the codes, they are capable of intervening, they can subdue a suspect, they are physically fit, and they are capable for driving a police vehicle in a chase. Before you will gain acceptance to police academy you will need to pass a background check and meet basic requirements. This is a requirement because most sheriff’s departments prefer to hire officers that are already licensed or certified. This is because sheriffs earn a higher wage and need to be more experienced.
Earn a Formal Degree in Criminal Justice
Once you go from recruit to officer, you should enroll in an undergraduate degree program majoring in criminal justice or a related area like law enforcement. Some agencies will accept applicants who possess an associate’s, but others will only consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree that takes four years to earn as a full-time student.
Complete an Internship if You have No Law Enforcement Experience
If you choose to pursue your degree before you become an officer, you can get hands-on experience by completing an internship at a sheriff’s department. This will give you work experience and will certainly strengthen your prospects when you are ready to start applying for employment.
Get the Work Experience Required in Your Jurisdiction
Every state or county has their own requirements regarding how much experience a sheriff must have before being given a badge. Many jurisdictions will require candidates to get at least three to five years of work experience in the field of criminal justice. Most will satisfy this requirement by working on the police force, which has much more lenient requirements. It is important that you know that many departments will actually recognize the years spent towards a college degree as a replacement for time on the police force.
Get Advanced Training Through the National Sheriff’s Association
There are several advanced training programs available to NSA members that can help you learn some of the unique legal issues that might arise when you work as a sheriff. The programs are administered by the National Sheriff’s Institute and is for sheriffs who have run for office and been elected.
Related Resource: Become a Paralegal
As a highly-paid law enforcement officer, the sheriff deputy must have experience and strong leadership capabilities. Make sure you check the requirements in your jurisdiction as you plan your career path. Once you do this, you will know what you need to do to become a sheriff.