As of 2015, the state of Pennsylvania had nearly 12.8 million people. To protect their life and property, there were nearly 27,570 police and sheriff officers in the state and recruitment is still ongoing. If you are among the people who are interested in knowing how to become a police officer in Pennsylvania, here is all the information that will be of help to you.

The first thing you would need to decide upon is whether you want to work for the municipal police departments or become the state law enforcement agent. These are the two types of Pennsylvania police officers careers you should look into in great detail, since the regulations and training methods for these vary as well.

Requirements to Become a Police Officer in Pennsylvania

Like most states, aspiring police officers in Pennsylvania need to meet a number of requirements before they can be eligible for duty. The Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission is responsible for supervising the entire process. However, many local departments have their own set of requirements as well, in addition to the state-level requirements. For instance, the MPOETC has the minimum education requirement set at a high school diploma or a GED, whereas many local departments require at least an associate’s degree or a higher qualification. Following are some of the requirements that you will need to clear:

Nationality and Age

The state of Pennsylvania has set the following minimum personal requirements:

  • The candidate must be between the ages of 21 and 40, at the time of hiring
  • The applicant should be a US citizen with all relevant paperwork in place
  • The applicant must possess a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license

Education Requirements for a Pennsylvania Police Officer

Candidates applying to become police officers in Pennsylvania need to have at least a high school diploma or GED certification. In addition to that, they may be required to have completed an associate’s degree or 60 semester credit hours from an accredited college level institution. This credit requirement can be waived off if the candidate meets the following conditions:

  • Candidate has four complete years of law enforcement experience in any capacity
  • Candidate has two complete years of law enforcement experience – in this case, 30 of the 60 credit hours will be waived off
  • Candidate has four complete years of full active military duty and was honorably discharged from service
  • Candidate has two complete years of full active military experience, with an honorable discharge – in this case 30 of the 60 credit hours required will be waived off

Background Check

In addition to personal requirements and educational criteria, individuals applying to become police officers in Pennsylvania need to clear certain background checks. They will need to show a completely clean criminal record and pass a polygraph and drug screening test. In addition to that, they will also need to clear an extensive interview which will judge their capabilities to work in this field. Any applicant who has a felony record or repeated misdemeanors will be disqualified automatically. Being of a high moral character and understanding the general ethical criteria is also very important when applying to any field in law enforcement.

Medical and Psychological Requirements

Being a police officer is a mentally and physically strenuous task. Therefore, the department would require you to meet certain medical and psychological requirements, before you can become a Police Officer in Pennsylvania. All recruits are required to pass the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, along with the MMPI-2, which is a computer administered personality assessment test. After this, you will be put through a psychological evaluation test conducted by a licensed psychologist. After clearance of these assessments, candidates will be required to carry out a medical examination. If they are given the green signal here, they will then be eligible to take the required agility and fitness tests.

Pennsylvania Highway Trooper or Patrol Requirements

These officials are responsible for taking care of traffic concerns, and responding to crime scenes. People looking to become a trooper in Pennsylvania would be required to fulfill the basic medical, psychological and educational requirements, along with the completion of a training program lasting nearly 27 weeks.

Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements

There are 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania and each county has its own elected sheriff. The training and certification process for sheriffs is overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Board. In addition to completing the basic medical, educational and background check requirements, applicants for the office of sheriff will be required to complete a basic training program of around 760 hours. This comprehensive training program would expose applicants to a variety of topics such as civil law and procedure, criminal justice, anti-terrorism training, patrol procedures, ethics training, etc.

Job Outlook for Pennsylvania Police Officers

According to 2016 data by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 26,970 Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in the state with an annual mean wage of $65,130. Here is a comparison of Pennsylvania state figures with national estimates:

Pennsylvania National
Mean Annual Wage (2016) $65,130 $62,760
Number of Jobs) 26,970 657,690

According to this data, people applying to become police officers in Pennsylvania are certainly making a wise choice.

Police Officers in Pennsylvania are hired by both local and state governments. Here is a breakdown of the sectors that hire the most officers all across the country:

Industry Employment Annual Mean Wage (2016)
Local Government 560,590 $62,680
State Government 60,380 $69,190
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools 14,440 $52,920
Federal Executive Branch 12,060 $54,980
Elementary and Secondary Schools 4,500 $51,260

According to this data, most police officers in the country are being employed at the local level, with state government coming in at the second place. The highest annual mean salaries earned are by the state government hired police officers.