A state trooper is often referred to as the State Police or as Highway Patrol Officers. A State Trooper is typically responsible for enforcing traffic laws on state highways. In addition, these officers often help law enforcement agencies that are located in more rural areas.
State Trooper Requirements
Each state has varying requirements for their state troopers however the majority of states require an aspiring State Trooper to attend and graduate from the state police academy. For example, according to troopers.ny.gov, New York state has a police academy where officers are properly trained prior to becoming active for duty. There may also be written examinations and certain physical requirements that must be met in order to become a state police officer.
Most states will require that an individual have at least an associate’s degree before entering the police academy. The degree does not necessarily have to be in a specific field, but some states prefer that their officers have a background in criminal justice. There are some states that will substitute experience as a certified police officer or in the military for the education requirements. All the aforementioned requirements can vary from state to state. For example, according to njsp.org (New Jersey State Police), a candidate must have (1) a bachelor’s degree; OR (2) possess a minimum of 90 credits and will complete their degree by a specified date prior to the written examination. OR (3) must have an associate’s degree or 60 college credits, PLUS at least 24 months of satisfactory employment or military experience; OR (4) 30 college credits, PLUS at least 24 months of active duty military service with an honorable discharge.
Steps to Become a State Trooper
The first thing a person considering a career in law enforcement and becoming a state trooper should do is earn a college degree. There are some states that only require an individual to have a high school diploma or GED in order to become an officer (e.g. State of Maine – maine.gov/dps/msp/jobs/trooper_recruitment.html), but most states prefer that a person have some type of formal education beyond high school.
A degree in criminal justice or a related field, though not mandatory, may give you an advantage over other candidates. In addition to general education courses, criminal justice students will also learn about the theories, principles, and techniques that are used by the police force through courses in policies and laws, criminal behavior, police supervision, criminal procedures, and criminal investigations.
If you are a veteran or have experience working as a certified police officer, there are certain states that allow this experience to substitute for the education requirements. Military service may include serving in the armed forces or in the reserves or National Guard.
When choosing a college it is recommended to pursue a school that offers a concentration area such as forensics, security, corrections, or law enforcement.
The next step in becoming a state trooper is to complete the training academy. A person will need to apply to become a state trooper and if accepted they will then attend the academy. State trooper academies combine physical training with classroom work. During the academy students will learn about state laws, civil rights, constitutional laws, self-defense, traffic control, emergency response, and firearms.
In addition, students will be required to pass physical fitness examinations that will involve push-ups, running, and sit-ups. They will also have a general vision examination and overall health examination.
It is recommended that a person that is interested in becoming a state trooper start their physical training before attending the training academy. Start a daily workout routine before you enter the training academy as this can make it easier to meet the physical fitness measurements that are required for working as a state trooper.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2013, the average salary for a State Trooper was $63,100 with 61,190 troopers located across the United States. Project growth for this field is roughly 3% to 7% over the next 10 years (source: ONET Online)