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 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Iowa had a population of about 3.2 million in 2019 and reported a total of 8,410 violent crimes. Between 2018 and 2019, violent crime here rose about 1.3%.

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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 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Iowa’s law enforcement professionals earned an average salary of $65,310 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).

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Police Officer Salaries

The average, starting salary for police officers among the state’s largest police departments is about $55,000.

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, which is about $60,470.

Des Moines Police Department

Des Moines Police Department cadets earn a salary during their training period. Then, upon graduation, the salary for these professionals is about $62,420. Senior police officers (those with either college education and/or experience) with the department earn an even higher salary of about $83,640.

Iowa City Police Department

Police officers with the Iowa City Police Department earn a starting salary of about $57,660.

Sioux City Police Department

Police officers with the Sioux City Police Department earn a salary of between $47,310 and $81,850.

Waterloo Police Department

Police officers with the Waterloo Police Department earn a starting salary of about $51,570.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Deputy sheriffs in Iowa earn a similar average starting salary than their police officer counterparts: $56,000, compared to $55,000 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 $59,330.

Linn County Sheriff’s Office

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office pays its deputy sheriffs a starting salary of about $60,470. The top salary for these law enforcement professionals is $80,140.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Entry-level sheriff’s deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of about $49,100.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Early career troopers with the Iowa State Patrol earn a salary of about $51,990.
Higher ranks with the Iowa State Patrol come with salary increases, with senior troopers earning about $83,640.

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

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