How To Become A Sheriff

A sheriff enforces the law at the county level. You will handle and investigate any complaints made by those under your jurisdiction, conduct criminal investigations and apprehend suspects of crimes. You will also go on patrol and resolve issues brought to your attention.

Some sheriffs may also be tasked with serving warrants and gathering overdue taxes. You can also repossess property and evict individuals from foreclosed properties. If you work in court, part of your responsibility is to see to it that there is order in the courtroom while a case is being heard. You may also serve as a jail warden and ensure the security of prisoners as well as implement the rehabilitation programs of the county.

To succeed as a sheriff, you will need to possess great interpersonal and excellent communication skills. Since you will need to run for office and be elected to secure the position, you need to be able to persuade and convince the voters that you are worthy of the position. You also need to have leadership skills since you will hold a position of authority in the community.

You also need to be able to take charge of emergency situations and direct everyone to do their job effectively. Physical strength and stamina are also necessary for the job since these attributes will come in handy when running after offenders, apprehending criminals and discharging the other duties of your office successfully.

Why Become A Sheriff

One reason to become a sheriff is the desire to keep communities safe. This is a law enforcement position and as such, sheriffs are given the chance to patrol neighborhoods, keep the peace and arrest criminals. Another reason to become a sheriff is the chance the position provides to run for higher office.

Since sheriffs are elected, this post is one of political influence and has been a stepping stone for previous sheriffs to run as mayors of their cities or even as senators of the country. It also gives decent pay.

Sheriff Work Environment

Sheriffs are found in 48 of the U.S. states. Only two states do not have sheriffs—Alaska because it does not have any counties and Connecticut which has state marshals instead of sheriffs. In Hawaii, deputy sheriffs are under the Sheriff’s Division of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. Sheriffs can work in rural areas where the sheriff’s department only has one to two members or they can be found in full-service departments with thousands of members.

The work is full-time but they often work in shifts because of the nature of law enforcement. They can also expect to work beyond their regular work hours. In many states, sheriffs are elected to serve for a term of four years and can run again once their term expires.

Just like any other law enforcement position, a career as a sheriff is very stressful and demanding. They experience a high rate of injuries compared to other occupations, particularly when they have to pursue criminals or make arrests. In spite of the challenges, it is also a very rewarding career.

Sheriff Salary

The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of police and sheriff’s patrol officers is $58,720. Bailiffs or sheriff’s deputies who maintain order in the courts receive a mean annual wage of $40,620.

Average Sheriff Annual Salary


The average annual salary for sheriffs is $64,490 a year. Salaries start at $35,020 a year and go up to $100,610 a year.

Average Sheriff Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a sheriff is $31.00. Hourly wages are between $16.84 and $48.37 an hour.

Stats were based out of 662,390 employed sheriffs in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Sheriffs

Top Paying Cities For Sheriffs

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Sheriff Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there will still be job growth for police and sheriff’s patrol officers albeit it will be slower than the national average for all job types. The agency projected a growth of 6 percent in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022. The demand will come from the desire to keep neighborhoods safe.

Sheriff Degree

In many cases, sheriffs already have experience with a law enforcement position before deciding to run and be elected by voters in their jurisdictions. Thus, they have to comply with the educational requirements for law enforcement officers prescribed by the state they live in which varies. At the very least, they must hold a high school diploma or have spent some years in college.

They must also go through competitive physical and written tests before they are hired. They are also required to go through police academy training as a condition for their employment. It is only after winning elections will sheriffs be able to serve in office.

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