The hurdles that must be overcome to obtain a job as a State Trooper may be considerable, but the rewards of providing peace and security, serving the public good and enforcing the laws of the state and country can be enormous. State Troopers often serve as the primary law enforcement agency on a state’s roadways, and therefore are usually one of the most visible police organizations. This awareness among motorists and state residents allows State Troopers to step into a variety of crime and law enforcement situations and assume command.
Although the exact procedures on how to become a State Trooper differ from state to state, they typically involve the following steps:
- Examine your qualifications
- Submit an application
- Pass the written and physical tests
- Submit to a background check, polygraph test, and oral interview
- Pass a medical examination, psychological evaluation and drug test
- Complete State Trooper training
Step 1. Examine Your Qualifications
Before embarking on the long and involved process of applying to the state police, it is in your best interests to evaluate yourself first. This enables you to be sure that you can meet all of the requirements for the State Police and will limit your disappointment should you become disqualified at a later stage.
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Rasmussen College - Law Enforcement Associate's Degree and Post-Degree Certificates; Criminal Justice Bachelor's Degrees
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
The vast majority of state police require the following qualifications:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Completed high school or a GED program. While only a few states require a college degree, almost all states grant preference to those with some post-secondary education.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Possess a valid driver’s license. Most state police require an in-state driver’s license.
- No felony convictions, convictions of domestic violence, or public corruption. States may have more stringent requirements than this regarding a criminal history.
- Limited or no prior drug use
Step 2. Submit an Application
While the application differs from state to state, all state police require that applicants complete these forms accurately and in full detail. Withholding or falsifying information can result in immediate disqualification for present and future applications. Therefore, it is in your best interests to ask for clarification if you have questions or issues with any of the application portions.
Many states often require documents to support the information provided in the application. This may include copies of birth records, transcripts, diplomas, military records, and employer recommendations.
Step 3. Pass the Written and Physical Tests
All states require that you demonstrate basic skills in writing and mathematics. Many of these police organizations utilize customized tests that assess your abilities, while others utilize nationally recognized examinations like the Police Officer Selection Test.
All state police utilize some form of a physical test to evaluate your stamina, strength and fitness. Most of these tests utilize a long run, a short run, push-ups or sit-ups. Some states may also ask you to successfully complete a handgun firing exercise or a flexibility test.
While all states require applicants to take these basic tests, the scoring system differs widely. Some states allow for the scores to be used in aggregate, while others require successful passage of each portion of all tests.
Step 4. Submit to a Background Check, Polygraph Test, and Oral Interview
In order to uphold the high standards required of all State Troopers, police organizations mandate that all applicants submit to an intensive background check. These investigations usually examine your employment history, criminal record, reputation and financial history. The polygraph test is also utilized to verify the information submitted in the application package and may also be quite extensive.
Almost all states require you to interview with at least one senior officer, and many require a meeting with the chief of their organization. While many of these interviews are the final step in the application process before a Conditional Offer of Employment is granted, they should not be ignored. The interviewers usually possess the right to terminate the application if you fail to impress them.
Step 5. Pass a Medical Examination, Psychological Evaluation and Drug Test
After a Conditional Offer of Employment has been extended to you, a series of final evaluations must be passed. The medical exam will test your vision, hearing and major physiological systems to ensure that you can fulfill the responsibilities of a State Trooper. A psychological evaluation will also be conducted to determine if you are capable of withstanding the stresses of such a demanding position. Finally, a drug test will be administered to ensure that you have not imbibed any controlled substances recently.
Step 6. Complete the State Trooper Training Program
All state troopers are required to complete their organization’s version of a training program. These programs are usually very physically and academically challenging, and may be between several weeks and several months in length. Most of these programs provide an introduction to the laws of the state and the country, a history of the state police, and various procedures used during the course of law enforcement.