Despite the fact that Florida is home to a large number of cities that are inundated with millions of tourists on a year-round basis, the outstanding efforts of the state’s law enforcement agencies at the state, county, and municipal levels have led to a downward trend in violent crime, falling about 1% between 2018 and 2019, according to FBI stats.
Florida isn’t without its challenges, though, including an uptick in both murders and rapes, with the largest share coming out of the South Florida counties of Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward. Still, crime rates in these counties fell year over year.
Jobs in Florida’s law enforcement community, whether at the state, municipal, or county level, are reserved for those with a desire for justice and a willingness to uphold the laws necessary to protect the lives, property, and well-being of the state’s citizens and visitors. With the right training and education to back you up, you can become part of this elite community committed to public service.
Florida Highway Patrol Jobs
The Division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is part of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the law enforcement agency that oversees the state’s roads and highways. It consists of 1,946 positions for sworn officers and 529 non-sworn positions.
The Florida Highway Patrol is divided into six bureaus:
- Bureau of Field Operations North and West
- Bureau of Field Operations South and East
- Bureau of Special Operations
- Bureau of Law Enforcement Support Services
- Bureau of Motor Carrier Compliance
- Bureau of Investigations
The Bureaus of Field Operations are divided into a number of Troops, which are then further divided into 30 district headquarters, each of which is commanded by a captain.
There are a number of units within the FHP:
- Traffic Homicide investigations Unit
- Drug Interdiction Program
- Florida Highway Patrol Flight Section
- Mobile Command Units
- Civilian Community Service Officers
- Reaction Force Teams
- Motorcycle Squads
- Tactical Response Teams
Candidates for state trooper jobs in Florida must meet a number of requirements:
- Must be at least 19 years old
- Must be a U.S. citizen.
- Must meet specific vision, hearing, and weight requirements
- Must hold a high school diploma or GED
- Must possess a valid driver’s license
- Must be willing to relocate anywhere in Florida
Further, all candidates must meet at least ONE of the following qualifications: one year of law enforcement experience; two years of active military service; two years of experience in a public contact role; or at least 30 semester hours at an accredited college or university.
Municipal Police Departments in Florida
A lot of police work takes place at the municipal level, in the heart of the city where the biggest population centers can be found. For example, Miami’s 55 square miles include more than 460,00 residents and more than 16 million annual visitors.
The Miami Police Department, which provides law enforcement and emergency response services to the citizens of Miami, consists of the Field Operations Division, under which there are three patrol districts.
The police officers of the Field Operations Division may serve in the Department’s specialized units, such as the Marine Patrol, the Mounted Patrol, Canine Detail, the SWAT Team, or the Traffic Unit. Other divisions of the Miami Police Department include the Criminal Investigations Division and the Special Investigations Section.
To become a police officer in Miami, candidates must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 19 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Pass a vision and medical examination
- Have no felony convictions
All candidates are required to pass a physical agility test, background investigation, polygraph examination, and a toxicology screen.
The Tampa Police Department is organized into three bureaus: the Internal Affairs Bureau, the Legal Bureau, and the Criminal Intelligence Bureau.
Police operations in the Tampa Police Department include three Districts and an Analytical Crime Mapping Unit.
Candidates for police officer jobs with the Tampa Police Department must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have a valid Florida driver’s license
The St. Petersburg Police Department is divided into four organizational subdivisions:
- Office of Chief of Police
- Uniform Services Bureau
- Investigation Services Bureau
- Administrative Services Bureau
Candidates for St. Petersburg police jobs must meet minimum requirements, which include completing a polygraph examination, a vocational assessment, a psychological evaluation, a physical abilities test, a physical examination, and a controlled substance test.
The Orlando Police Department has a Uniformed Police Division and a Criminal Investigations Division, under which there are four sections: violent crimes, youth services, property crimes, and Homeland Security.
Those candidates accepted to take the civil service exam must provide proof of a birth certificate, U.S. citizenship, a high school diploma or GED, and a valid driver’s license. They must also provide the department with their sealed college transcripts.
County Sheriff’s Departments in Florida
Outside of the heart of the city, in unincorporated areas of the state, large county-level police departments and sheriff’s offices are responsible for upholding the law. The deputy sheriffs here also often oversee the county jails, court security, and the issuance of warrants, and their manpower is often required to back up the city’s police departments and state troopers.
The Miami-Dade County Police Department patrols a 2,109-square-mile area, which has about 2.5 million residents. The Miami-Dade County Police Department includes about 2,800 sworn officers, about 1,500 support personnel, and a County Sheriff.
The hiring process includes successfully completing a rigorous background investigation that includes a physical, drug screen, and psychological evaluation.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) is a joint city-county law enforcement agency that is responsible for law enforcement, investigation, and corrections in the city of Jacksonville and in Duval County, Florida, which includes the incorporated cities of Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune Beach. Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach have their own police departments, as well.
The Sheriff’s Office has five departments, which are further divided into divisions, sections, units, zones, and squads.
The departments of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office include:
- Department of Patrol and Enforcement
- Department of Investigations and Homeland Security
- Homeland Security and Narcotics/Vice Division
- Department of Personnel and Professional Standards
- Department of Corrections
Candidates for police officer jobs in Jacksonville must possess at least one of the following:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; OR
- At least three years of accredited education with at least two years of related experience; OR
- An associate’s degree and four years of related experience
Before candidates can begin academy training, they must pass a physical fitness and agility test, a medical examination, a psychological screening program, and a background investigation.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement and fire rescue services county-wide. The Sheriff’s Office also serves the unincorporated areas of Broward County, the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, and the Broward County Courthouse.
Sheriff’s deputies may serve in many specialized units, including the Aviation Unit, Bicycle Patrol, Bomb Squad, Canine Unit, Crime Scene Unit, Marine Unit, Dive Team, and SWAT Team, just to name a few.
Qualified candidates must be at least 19 years old, must be a U.S. citizen, must possess a high school GED or diploma, and must have no felony convictions.
Florida Law Enforcement Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), law enforcement officers in Florida earned an average salary of $51,230 as of May 2021.
The following police/sheriff’s department salary data was sourced from May 2021 BLS stats (early career = 25th percentile, senior/late career = 90th percentile).
Police Officer Salaries
The average starting salary (post-academy) for police officers among Florida’s largest police departments is about $52,000. Both the Miami and St. Petersburg police departments offer the highest, starting salaries.
Jacksonville Police Department
Police officer recruits with the Jacksonville Police Department begin their careers at a salary of about $48,170. Automatic step increases via a 17-year career path culminate in a maximum salary of about $80,820.
Police sergeants with the Jacksonville Police Department earn 17.5% more than officers, and police lieutenants earn 17.5% more than sergeants.
Miami Police Department
Police officers of the Miami Police Department earn a salary of about $61,970 upon completion of the police academy. The maximum salary for these law enforcement professionals is $102,000.
Orlando Police Department
Orlando police officers earn a starting salary of $50,960, which may also include an annual educational incentive. The maximum salary for police officers with the Orlando Police Department is about $80,140.
St. Petersburg Police Department
Police officer recruits with the St. Petersburg Police Department earn a starting salary of $51,410, with a maximum salary of about $81,850 after the 13th year.
Tampa Police Department
The salary range for police officers with the Tampa Police Department is $51,410-$81,850.
Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries
The average starting (post-academy) salary among deputy sheriffs in Florida’s largest sheriff’s offices is about $50,000.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriff cadets with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of about $61,970. Upon completion of the required training, certified deputy sheriffs here earn a salary increase up to $102,000.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriff trainees with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of about $51,410. The maximum salary for these professionals is $81,850.
Miami Dade County Police Department
The police officers of the Miami Dade County Police Department earn a starting salary of about $43,180.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriff recruits with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of about $50,960 while in training. After training, deputy sheriffs here earn up to $80,140.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department
The starting salary for deputy sheriffs of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department is about $48,290.
State Trooper and State Police Salaries
State troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol earn between $51,230 and $97,480. Many state troopers also earn a Competitive Area Differential (CAD) – an additional monthly stipend paid to troopers in high-cost counties. Troopers assigned to Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties earn an additional monthly stipend.
Troopers assigned to the following Critical Market Pay (CMP) areas also receive an additional monthly stipend: Lee, Collier, Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas, Marion, Duval, and Escambia. Monroe County troopers are the only troopers in the state that may qualify for both CMP and CAD pay.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022