Law Enforcement Careers in Tennessee

The rate of violent crimes in Tennessee has continued to fall in recent years. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of violent crimes fell nearly 5%, which highlights the outstanding efforts of law enforcement officials at all levels.

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Jobs with the Tennessee Highway Patrol

Troopers of the Tennessee State Highway Patrol were hard at work in 2017, conducting more than 75,000 inspections and reducing fatal crashes involving impaired drivers by over three percent from the previous year.

In addition to enforcing traffic laws, investigating crashes, and assisting motorists, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has a Special Operations Unit to handle specialized situations. It includes an Aviation Section, a Tactical/Bomb Squad, a K-9 Unit, and a task force to eradicate marijuana.

State troopers in Tennessee must be 21 and have a high school diploma or a GED. Applicants must also have completed a training class at the Department of Safety Training Center in Nashville. They must have vision of at least 20/100 in each eye without glasses and 20/30 upon correction. Applicants undergo physical and psychological testing and must pass a background check.

Jobs with Sheriff’s Departments in Tennessee

The 95 counties in Tennessee provide lots of opportunities for anybody with the drive, intellect and commitment to become deputy sheriff.

Davidson County

The deputies of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department manage all the county jails and process and serve civil warrants. To be employed as sheriff’s deputies in Davidson County, applicants must be 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Applications must be submitted by e-mail.

Knox County

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is the largest law enforcement agency in the Eastern part of the state and employs 475 sworn officers. Deputies in Knox County must have a high school diploma or GED.

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Rutherford County

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office employs approximately 178 sworn officers. Sheriff’s deputies in Rutherford County are involved with law enforcement, the detention of adults, and the courts. They are responsible for covering 626 square miles across the county. Applicants for sheriff’s deputy jobs in Rutherford County should obtain an application and demographic information form from the Rutherford County Human Resources department.

Jobs with Municipal Police Departments in Tennessee

Tennessee has a good selection of municipal police departments of various sizes for anyone interested in a more urban version of policing.


Although Clarksville has a high crime rate for a city of its size, this rate is low compared to other cities in Tennessee. Around 120 of the department’s sworn officers were participating in a pilot program for body-worn cameras as of 2018, and all officers are being upgraded with the technology. Officers in Clarksville must be 21 years old and possess a high school diploma or GED.


Chattanooga has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S. Applicants for police officer jobs there must be 21-39 years old at the time of hire and have at least a high school diploma or GED.


The city of Knoxville has one of the highest rates of crime of any city in Tennessee, but KPD made a big dent in the homicide rate in 2018, effecting a nearly 40 percent drop from the previous year.


The crime rate in Memphis is one of the highest in the country. To fight those statistics and protect the citizens of the city, the department has been on a hiring spree recently, brining on 100 new officers in 2017 alone. To become a police officer in Memphis, applicants must have at least 54 semester hours or two years of military service or three years of employment as a law enforcement officer.


The Murfreesboro Police Department practices community-oriented policing and is accredited by the Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. The department accepts job applications online.


Members of the Nashville Police Department fight crime in Nashville and throughout Davidson County as the primary law enforcement agency covering both jurisdictions. Applicants for police officer positions in Nashville must be 21 years old and have 60 hours of college credit with a 2.0 average or have a high school diploma or GED in combination with two years of military duty or law enforcement experience. Citizens with five years of full time responsible work experience will be considered.

Tennessee Law Enforcement Salaries

According to 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the average law enforcement officer in Tennessee earned $48,530.

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

Urban police departments in Tennessee offer a wide range of salary rates, largely depending on location and department size. The unique nature of Nashville’s departmental jurisdiction may be one reason that senior officer rates there are among the best in the state.

Chattanooga Police Department

  • Entry – $38,120
  • Mid-Level – $47,310
  • Senior – $51,570

Clarksville Police Department

  • Entry – $47,310
  • Mid-Level – $50,480
  • Senior – $53,310

Knoxville Police Department

  • Entry – $37,300
  • Senior – $60,040

Memphis Police Department

  • Entry – $47,740
  • Senior – $64,510

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

  • Entry – $40,960
  • Senior – $64,510

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

While in many states, deputy salary pay lags behind that of metropolitan police officers, sheriff’s deputies in Tennessee can command salaries that are every bit the equal of their urban counterparts.


  • Entry -$37,300
  • Senior – $60,040


  • Entry – $47,740
  • Senior – $64,510

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Although THP troopers do not work at the high end of the salary range available in the state, their wide variety of opportunities for postings statewide allows considerable flexibility in where in the state they can live and work.

Tennessee Highway Patrol

  • Entry – $39,290
  • Senior – $63,210

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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