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Law Enforcement Careers in Virginia

Training for law enforcement professionals in Virginia varies according to the agency. Police officer and deputy sheriff jobs in Virginia’s municipalities and counties may require shorter periods of training at local police academies, while state troopers require longer and more intensive periods of training at the Virginia State Police Academy in Richmond.

Police Officer Jobs in Virginia

Police officer jobs in Virginia are found in nearly every one of the Commonwealth’s towns and cities. The largest municipal police departments in Virginia include:

  • Alexandria Police Department
  • Arlington County Police Department
  • Norfolk Police Department
  • Hampton Police Division
  • Portsmouth Police Department

But size doesn’t necessarily equate to crime rates or policing challenges in Virginia. In 2016, Harrisonburg experienced a nearly 40 percent spike in violent crimes, the largest of any city in the state and one of the most of any metro area nationwide.

Deputy Sheriff Jobs in Virginia

Virginia is recognized for two major milestones when it comes to sheriff-related history in the United States. According to the National Sheriff’s Association, the colony of Virginia’s shire of Northampton had both the first appointed and the first elected sheriffs in America. Today, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs work in Virginia’s counties and cities, enforcing and upholding laws. The largest sheriff departments in Virginia include:

  • Arlington County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office
  • Alexandria City Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Hampton Sheriff’s Office
  • Norfolk Sheriff’s Office
  • Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office
  • Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
 

Qualifications for Becoming a Police Officer or Deputy Sheriff in Virginia

While each city/county that employs deputy sheriffs and/or police officers has its own qualifications for employment, generally the following rules apply to all applicants:

  • S. citizens only need apply
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must pass extensive background investigation
  • Must pass physical and medical examinations
  • Must pass polygraph examination
  • Must pass psychological examination

State Trooper Jobs With the Highway Patrol in Virginia

State trooper jobs in Virginia come with many responsibilities. Duties of state troopers in Virginia include, but are not limited to: enforcing Commonwealth laws, investigating traffic and criminal offenses, interviewing, performing lifesaving operations, search and rescues, communicating orally and writing reports, and reading and comprehending legal documents.

State trooper jobs in Virginia may be found in:

  • Administrative headquarters: Richmond
    • Division 1 HQ: Henrico; offices:
      • Area 1: Ashland
      • Area2: Warsaw
      • Area 3: West Point
      • Area 4: Mineral
      • Area 6: Powhatan
      • Area 7: Petersburg
      • Area 8: Richmond
      • Area 44: Bowling Green
    • Division 2 HQ: Culpeper; offices:
      • Area 5: Fredericksburg
      • Area 12: Warrenton
      • Area 13: Winchester
      • Area 14: Luray
      • Area 15: Culpeper
      • Area 16: Harrisonburg
    • Division 3 HQ: Appomattox; offices:
      • Area 17: Staunton
      • Area 18: Charlottesville
      • Area 19: Buckingham
      • Area 20: Amherst
      • Area 21: Appomattox
      • Area 22: South Hill
      • Area 23: South Boston
    • Division 4 HQ: Wythe; offices:
      • Area 24: Dublin
      • Area 25: Galax
      • Area 26: Wythe
      • Area 27: Bristol
      • Area 28: Claypool Hill
      • Area 29: Vansant
      • Area 30: Wise
    • Division 5 HQ: Chesapeake; offices:
      • Area 31: Melfa
      • Area 32: Norfolk
      • Area 33: Gloucester
      • Area 34: Franklin
      • Area 35: Emporia
      • Area 36: Waverly
      • Area 37: Williamsburg
      • Area 46: Hampton
      • Area 47: Chesapeake
    • Division 6 HQ: Salem; offices:
      • Area 38: Clifton Forge
      • Area 39: Lexington
      • Area 40: Salem
      • Area 41: Bedford
      • Area 42: Martinsville:
      • Area 43: Chatham
    • Division 7 HQ: Fairfax; offices:
      • Area 9: Fairfax
      • Area 10: Leesburg
      • Area 11: Independent Hill/Manassas
      • Area 45: Arlington
      • Area 48: Alexandria

Qualifications for Becoming a State Trooper in Virginia

Candidates for state trooper positions in Virginia must be:

  • 21 years old
  • High school graduate/GED (college experience preferred)
  • S. citizen
  • Pass a background investigation including a polygraph test
  • Driver’s license/good driving record
  • Willing to relocate to anywhere in Virginia
  • Willing to work rotating shifts/weekends
  • Must live in a state east of the Mississippi River
  • Must pass pre-employment drug testing and random screening thereafter
  • Must pass physical exam
  • Must pass psychological exam

Virginia Law Enforcement Salaries

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average Virginia law enforcement officer made $27.26 per hour in 2018. That amounts to $56,710 per year. At the top end, those in the 90th percentile could earn $39.51 per hour, or $82,180 per year.

Below, we’ve gone past the averages and brought in data directly from various law enforcement agencies around the state at all levels, whether state, city, or county. Where available, we list representative salaries from the most recently published data for entry, mid-level, and senior positions, with job titles if those have been provided.

Entry level data reflects pay levels after academy or probationary posting, while senior levels may in some cases represent supervisory positions, depending on department structure and promotion policy. None of the provided data includes bonuses for education, qualification, or hazard pay.

Police Officer Salaries

The most senior police officers in metropolitan departments across Virginia can expect pay that verges on six figures, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay region.

  • Arlington Police Department
    • Entry – $56,035/yr
    • Senior – $94,848/yr
  • NorfolkPolice Department
    • Entry – $41,168/yr
    • Senior – $62,830/yr
  • ChesapeakePolice Department
    • Entry – $44,326/yr
    • Mid-Level – $63,580/yr
    • Senior – $98,876/yr
  • RichmondPolice Department
    • Entry – $42,000/yr
    • Senior – $82,106/yr
  • Virginia BeachPolice Department
    • Entry – $45,448/yr

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

Sheriff’s offices in the state may call their uniformed staff either deputies or police officers, but in either case, salaries tend to be similar to the municipal agencies in the same areas.

  • Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office
    • Entry – $47,000/yr
  • FairfaxCounty Sheriff’s Office
    • Police Officer I – $52,078/yr
    • Police Officer II – $69,789/yr
    • Police Sergeant – $98,201/yr
  • Prince WilliamCounty Police Department
    • Entry – $52,749/yr

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Virginia state troopers start off in the same ballpark as, or even slightly below, their counterparts at other agencies when it comes to paychecks, but at the top end, senior officers make more money and have more flexibility in postings and assignments than at any other law enforcement agency in the state.

  • Virginia State Police
    • Law Enforcement Officer I – $48,719/yr
    • Law Enforcement Officer II – $54,777/yr
    • Law Enforcement Officer III – $111,885/yr

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vi.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.

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