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Law Enforcement Careers in Ohio

The Buckeye State has a great mix of urban and rural, blue-collar and professional, areas in which law enforcement operates. Even with a violent crime rate lower than the national average and property crimes right at the line, Ohio’s police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers know the business of law enforcement well.

Jobs with the Ohio State Highway Patrol

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is responsible for enforcing traffic and criminal laws on the public roads and on property owned or leased by the state. In 2018, Highway Patrol Officers made more than 425,000 enforcement stops, investigated over 40,000 crashes, and provided assistance to almost 150,000 motorists.

The multiple highways that transect Ohio are major distribution routes for a number of different illegal drugs. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is targeting this distribution by checking for suspicious activity during its routine traffic stops and coordinating information between its Office of Investigative Service and Criminal Intelligence Units. In 2018, state troopers mad more than 11,000 drug arrests.

To become a state trooper in Ohio, applicants must be 20-34 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. They will undergo a thorough background check and physical examination. Applicants must have uncorrected vision that is at least 20/125 in each eye. This selection process normally takes two months.


Jobs with sheriff’s departments in Ohio

In unincorporated parts of Ohio, law enforcement is largely the responsibility of county-level sheriff’s departments. The largest in Ohio are:

Cuyahoga County

A high priority of the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s department is combating an increase in drug related crimes. The dedicated narcotics unit has personnel working round the clock along with four highly trained dogs in its K9 Unit.

Franklin County

The Investigations Division of the Franklin County sheriff’s department has a Bomb Squad, SWAT Team, and a Hostage Negotiation unit. The Patrol Division includes mounted and bicycle patrols, along with a marine rescue/dive group.

Sheriff’s deputies in Franklin County, applicants must have a high school diploma or possess a GED and be at least 18 years old. Applicants who pass a pre-employment exam are invited to fill out an application and then go through a rigorous background investigation.

Summit County

Northern Ohio has been designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), and the Summit County sheriff’s department is part of the Summit County Drug Unit. One of the many specialties of this department is dealing with methamphetamine labs, and a special Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Response Team has been formed in collaboration with the Akron Police Department. Since 2001, it has dealt with 75 emergencies in Summit County alone.

Jobs with Municipal Police Departments in Ohio

The large number of cities in Ohio provides job opportunities for those who wish to have a career as a police officer.


Akron has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country, and the 451 sworn members in the Akron Police Department work to fight this trend. Akron police officers work in a variety of units, including Crimes Against Persons/Major Crimes, Crimes Against Property, Juvenile/Auto Theft/Missing Persons Unit, Narcotics, Crime Scene, and Polygraph.


Cincinnati has a very high rate of both violent and property crimes. To fight this trend, the City of Cincinnati Police Department employs over 1,000 sworn law enforcement officers. To become a police officer in Cincinnati, applicants must be 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Those who have a college background are preferred.


The city of Cleveland has one of the highest rates of crime in the U.S., and police officers in Cleveland are active in the community and encourage Neighborhood Watch Programs. When becoming a police officer in Cleveland, the first step is to take the city’s Civil Service written examination. Top scorers are contacted to take an exam for physical agility. Applicants who pass then under go a series of evaluations, including a background check. Successful applicants undergo training to become police officers in Cleveland at the Police Academy Class for 6 months, after which they will undergo further examination.


The crime rate in Columbus is high for both violent and property crimes. To fight this, the Columbus Division of Police has over 1,800 sworn officers. They have an active K-9 unit with eight dogs, a dedicated Helicopter Unit that has five helicopters, and a full-time SWAT team.


The city of Dayton has one of the highest crime rates in the country for both violent and property crime, and they have one of the largest police departments in the U.S. Around 350 sworn law enforcement officers help to fight crime in Dayton with three Operation Divisions active in the city.


The crime rate in Toledo is one of the highest in the U.S. for violent and property crime. The Toledo Police Department has around 600 sworn officers to fight this crime in a high tech manner. All patrol cars have mobile data computers. Specialized units in Toledo include the Bomb Squad, Gang Unit, a full time SWAT Team, Vice, and the Metro Drug Task Force. To become a police officer in Toledo, applicants must take the Toledo Civil Service Examination for police officers.

Ohio Law Enforcement Salaries

According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average officer in Ohio made $29.35 per hour, or about $61,000 each year. Those in the top ten percent of the profession pull in closer to $85,980, or around $41.34 per year.

Below, we list salary data directly from various departments in the state, both county, state, and local. The data reflects pay at early, middle, and late stages of the typical officer’s career, where available, but does not reflect overtime or specialist pay.

In some cases, depending on the department structure and policies, senior-level pay rates might include positions such as sergeants or higher, with supervisory responsibilities. Entry level pay reflects post-probationary salary levels.

Police Officer Salaries

As you might have noted from the departmental descriptions above, Ohio cities can be violent places to police. Urban police departments tend to pay their officers very well to attract top candidates to the positions.

  • Akron Police Department
    • Entry – $53,206/yr
    • Senior – $62,150/yr
  • CincinnatiPolice Department
    • Entry – $52,790/yr
    • Senior – $63,383/yr
  • ClevelandPolice Department
    • Patrol Officer IV – $51,691/yr
    • Patrol Officer II – $56,768/yr
    • Patrol Officer I – $63,719/yr
  • Columbus Division of PolicePolice Department
    • Entry – $22.75/hr
    • Mid-Level – $38.84/hr
    • Senior – $56.99/hr
  • ToledoPolice Department
    • Police Officer – 1 year – $25.56/hr
    • Police Officer – 10 year – $29.13/hr
    • Police Officer – 20 year – $29.87/hr

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Ohio sheriff’s deputies have relatively uniform pay level from county to county. Although they tend to not be compensated as well as their urban counterparts, lower cost of living out in the countryside stretches those dollars a lot further.

  • Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department
    • Entry – $22.71/hr
    • Mid-Level – $27.21/hr
    • Senior – $30.39/hr
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
    • Entry – $21.00/hr
    • Mid-Level – $26.65/hr
    • Senior – $36.92/hr

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

State troopers in Ohio have relatively low base pay levels, but supplements for fitness, longevity, and paid holiday overtime can boost their salaries considerably over the rates listed below.

  • Ohio State Highway Patrol
    • Entry – $49,400/yr
    • Mid-level – $55,640/yr
    • Senior – $64,432/yr


State-level salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for medical and health services managers – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm#11-9111.

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.