Law Enforcement Careers in Iowa

Law enforcement careers in Iowa are available at the state level, as well as with county sheriff’s offices and city police departments. Together these agencies cover more than 200 separate and overlapping municipal and county jurisdictions.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2016, more than 30,000 serious crimes against individuals occurred that year, representing about 1,020 incidents per 100,000 residents. Nearly 102,000 property crimes took place that year, which came to nearly 3,400 incidents for every 100,000 state residents. That’s a lot of crime, especially for a state with a lot of close-knit communities.

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If you’re a person of strong moral character, have no prior convictions, and meet the basic requirements set by the police department, county sheriff’s department or other agency that serves in your community, then you can make a difference protecting the people of your community by becoming a law enforcement officer yourself.

Iowa State Patrol

The Iowa State Patrol has a 75-year history, employing 1,584 patrol members during this time.

Candidates for the Iowa State Patrol must:

  • Be in good mental and physical condition
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a good character and driving record

Candidates who have ever used any illegal drug(s) other than marijuana after 1991 will be disqualified.

Iowa County Law Enforcement Sheriff’s Departments

All county sheriff’s deputy positions require a high school diploma or GED equivalent and a valid driver’s license.

Polk County

The Polk County Sheriff’s Department uses the latest technology to preserve law and order throughout Iowa. It manages a jail, conducts patrols, issues permits and licenses, and actively works with the community to enforce the law. Preference will be shown to applicants who have graduated from a law enforcement academy.

Linn County

The Linn County Sheriff’s Department is divided into criminal, patrol, and corrections center divisions. The goal of this sheriff’s department is to protect the property and lives of the county residents with professionalism and excellence. Candidates must be at least 18 years old.

Scott County

The Scott County Sheriff’s Department has four divisions: patrol, criminal investigation, corrections, and civil. Deputies here work closely with other law enforcement agencies and the local community. Training requirements include the successful completion of Iowa’s law enforcement academy, and additional college education in a related field is preferred.

Municipal Law Enforcement Careers in Iowa: City Police Departments

All police departments in Iowa require applicants to have either a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Des Moines Police Department

The largest law enforcement agency in the state, the Des Moines Police Department, consists of 362 sworn officers and 103 civilian support personnel. The department is organized into three divisions: Administrative Services, Operations, and Investigations. Applicants must be in good physical and mental condition and pass a variety of tests and exams.

Cedar Rapids Police Department

In 2018, recruiting efforts of the Cedar Rapids Police Department netted 175 applications and resulted in 11 applicants being hired as new police officers. The application process to become a police officer includes a written and physical fitness test.

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Davenport Police Department

The Davenport Police Department is organized into three divisions: criminal investigation, patrol, and services. The department is home to 163 sworn officers and 24 civilian employees. Each year the department handles more than 82,000 calls for service. Candidates must have at least 30 college credits, which may be substituted with one year of previous military or sworn officer experience.

Sioux City Police Department

The Sioux City Police Department consists of 125 sworn officers and 25 civilian personnel. It is the mission of the department to work with the community through community policing efforts, outreach efforts, and by establishing strong partnerships with the city’s citizens.

Iowa City Police Department

The Iowa City Police Department consists of 82 sworn officers and 30 civilian personnel. With a commitment to inclusive services, the department employs three full-time officers who serve as liaisons to the LGBTQ community.

Iowa Law Enforcement Salaries

According to 2018 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, law enforcement officers in Iowa earned a median salary of $58,500, with the top 10% earning $78,880.

The following salary data, obtained directly from the respective department websites, highlights starting salaries for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in a number of top Iowa agencies. In some cases, additional information detailing salaries during academy training and mid- to senior-level officer salaries is also included.

Police Officer Salaries

The average, starting salary for police officers among the state’s largest police departments is $54,016. The top-paying police department for new officers is the Des Moines Police Department, at $65,783.

  • Cedar Rapids Police Department

Police officers with the Cedar Rapids Police Department earn a salary during academy training. Graduates then begin their careers at Step 1 of the salary scale, starting salary of $52,499. Additional steps on the salary scale include:

        • Step 2: $54,600
        • Step 3: $56,784
        • Step 4: $59,051
        • Step 5: $61,401
        • Step 6: $63,876
        • Step 7: $66,435
        • Step 8: $69,076
        • Step 9: $71,843
        • Step 10: $74,713
        • Step 11: $77,708
  • Des Moines Police Department

Des Moines Police Department cadets earn a salary of between $41,537 and $49,212 during their training period. Then, upon graduation, the salary for these professionals increases to a range of $65,783-$81,016. Senior police officers (those with either college education and/or experience) with the department earn an even higher salary of $71,510 to $85,779.

  • Iowa City Police Department

Police officers with the Iowa City Police Department earn a starting salary of $49,975 (Step 1). Additional salary increases include:

        • Step 2: $51,001
        • Step 3: $61,318
        • Step 4: $67,142
        • Step 5: $72,217
        • Step 6: $78,395
  • Sioux City Police Department

Police officers with the Sioux City Police Department earn a salary of between $51,346 and $75,452. An increase in rank to sergeant comes with a salary range of between $83,513-$89,208.

  • Waterloo Police Department

Police officers with the Waterloo Police Department earn a starting salary of $50,479 to $51,816.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Deputy sheriffs in Iowa earn a lower average starting salary than their police officer counterparts: $48,061, compared to $54,016 for police officers.

  • Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff’s deputies with the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $49,004.

  • Linn County Sheriff’s Office

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office pays its deputy sheriffs a starting salary of $50,148. The top salary for these law enforcement professionals is $63,144.

  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Entry-level sheriff’s deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of $45,032.

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State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Trooper recruits with the Iowa State Patrol earn a salary of $32,136-$47,153 during academy training. Upon graduation, their rank increases to Trooper I, which comes with a higher salary of $44,137-$66,248.

Higher ranks with the Iowa State Patrol come with salary increases, such as Trooper II ($53,934-$81,099) and Trooper III ($55,057-$82,721).


Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 –

BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Agency-level salary and employment data was sourced directly from the municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies named and reflects the specific salary ranges and seniority- or rank-based pay described by the respective agency.

All salary and employment data accessed in August 2019.

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