Virginia currently has more than 18,000 police officers, each earning an annual average mean wage of $54,940. These officers are primarily tasked with ensuring the safety of all state residents by enforcing state laws, preventing crimes and arresting criminals.

Assigned with such aen important task, every police officer is therefore held to higher standards, including the hiring standards. Each potential police officer in Virginia must fulfill certain requirements. Let’s take a look at these.

Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Virginia

The basic requirements include the following:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Have completed high school or GED
  • Be a US citizen
  • Allow a complete background investigation
  • Possess a valid driver’s license, with no outstanding dues or previous criminal record on it
  • Submit to a physical exam
  • Have a clear criminal record and no felony convictions
How to become a police officer in Virginia
How to become a police officer in Virginia

Educational Paths for Aspiring Police Officers in Virginia

  • Vocational/Trade Schools: Vocational or trade schools often have certificate programs that can help you meet credit hour requirements for future college education in law enforcement.
  • Military: If you have prior military experience before applying for a police officer’s position, this can count a lot. Your familiarity with firearms, weapons and physical training will help you as a police officer as well, a background preferred by law enforcement agencies.
  • Community College: Community colleges provide a lot of options for students who intend to become police officers. Students may opt for associate degrees, or certificate programs that can all be completed within one to two years.
  • Law Enforcement Schools: This is the most straightforward path to getting entry into police. In Virginia, law enforcement schools would prepare you for the police departments according to the state’s laws and specific requirements. The curriculum will cover multiple areas of criminal law and will also involve some physical training.
  • 4-Year Schools: Even though most police departments do not require a 4-year bachelor’s degree, getting one can be very beneficial in the long run. Not only might it increase the chances of you getting hired or promoted, but it will also make your more knowledgeable about criminal justice.

Police Departments in Virginia

There are many police departments in the state of Virginia. Let’s take a look at two of these.

Virginia Beach Police Department

Richmond Police Department

  • The VBPD has four precincts, each with its own Citizen’s Advisory Committee
  • Aspiring officers can apply to various departments including bomb squad, horses, K-9, motorcycles, SWAT and helicopter
  • Current Chief is James A. Cervera, appointed in September, 2010


  • The Richmond PD has four precincts and 12 sectors
  • The Chief of Police is Alfred Durham
  • Minimum age for application here is 21 years
  • A written and physical agility test will have to be cleared
  • The service tenure agreement is for 60 months


Police Training Academies in Virginia

Candidates who meet all requirements and have cleared the exam for entrance will then be required to attend a training academy. There are a total of ten training academies within the territory of Virginia.

  1. Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy – Lynchburg, VA
  2. Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy – Salem, VA
  3. Southwest Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy – Bristol, VA
  4. Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy – Martinsville, VA
  5. Commonwealth Criminal Justice Academy – Fredericksburg, VA
  6. Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy – Newport News, VA
  7. Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy – Fredericksburg, VA
  8. Crater Criminal Justice Training Academy – Disputanta, VA
  9. Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Academy – Weyers Cave, VA
  10. Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy – Fredericksburg, VA

Here, in these academies, candidates will be taught a number of useful skills. Courses taught here cover topics like criminal law, laws of arrest and the motor vehicle code, among others.

Requirements for Virginia Troopers or Highway Patrol Officers

The requirements to become a Virginia State Trooper are quite similar to those for a police officer. You must fulfill the following:

  • Candidate should be a resident of Virginia
  • Minimum age for acceptance is 21 years
  • Candidate must have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Candidate should be a citizen of the US
  • A valid driver’s license with a good driving record will be required

Bear in mind that you might be asked to relocate to different parts of the state.

Requirements for Virginia Deputy Sheriff

The work of a deputy sheriff in Virginia is mostly in the Detention Center or providing security at the courthouse. The basic requirements for this position are the same as for other positions in the department. Candidate needs to be at least 21 years old, should have a high school diploma or a GED and should be a US citizen. In addition, applicants may also be required to complete some certifications in the first year after being hired. More details about these are available on the official websites of the Virginia police departments.

Salary and Employment for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in Virginia



Annual Mean Wage




Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News



Southside Virginia Non-Metropolitan Area



Northeast Virginia Non-Metropolitan Area






The job outlook for police officers in Virginia is bright. As the baby boomers retire, more employment opportunities will be available for the newer applicants.