Virginia has a huge police force comprising of 18,000 sworn officers to ensure safety of every resident of the state. The various police departments across the state employ their own individual law enforcement personnel to keep local communities, residents and visitors safe. Therefore, to become a Virginia state police officer, you will need to follow a strict set of guidelines.

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What Does a Police Officer Do?

With the aim to serve and protect, a police officer is the first responder when a crime is committed. It’s their job to respond to emergency calls and provide assistance to public by apprehending law violators. Police officers are also required to patrol their designated areas, monitoring activities to protect property and people.

A police officer is responsible for enforcing law, conducting criminal investigations, and processing incident reports with factual information. Police officer candidates are required to have at least a high school diploma, although preference is given to those who have an associate or a bachelor’s degree in law or related discipline.

Requirements for becoming a Virginia Police Officer

To become a Virginia state police officer, you will need to fulfill the following basic requirements:

  • Candidates should be at least 18 years old.
  • They must have a high school diploma or a GED.
  • They should be US citizens.
  • Candidates must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Candidates ought to have no convicted felonies on their record.
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent
Experience/Training Attend Training Academy, Moderate on-the-job training
Key Skills Assertiveness, Quick Thinker, Teamwork, Morality, Courage, Attention to detail, Negotiation skills.
Annual Mean Salary – Virginia (2021) $59,720 (Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers)
Job Outlook – Virginia (2018-2028) 6% (Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) and O*Net Online

How to become a police officer in Virginia
How to become a police officer in Virginia

Steps to Become a Police Officer in Virginia

To become a police officer in Virginia, you have to complete the following steps:

    1. Get High School Education

The first step is to obtain high school education as that is the minimum educational requirement needed to join the police force in most US states.

    1. Check the Job Requirements

You have to ensure that you know all the requirements of the job. Make sure that you do thorough research and know all that there is to know before applying for the job. This will help you with the application process.

    1. Apply for the Position

Once you have completed all the pre-requisites, you can apply for the position of the police officer. Make sure you fill out the application carefully because any mistake can result in rejection.

    1. Clear the Hiring Process

You will have to complete the hiring process which will contain interviews, background screening, written tests, drug screening, etc.

    1. Clear Police Academy Training

Once you pass the hiring process, you will need to clear police academy training before you can join the force.

Academic Paths for Police Officers in Virginia

If you intend to become a police officer in Virginia, you can follow these educational paths:

  • Vocational/Trade Schools.
  • Military Experience.
  • Community Colleges.
  • Law Enforcement Schools.
  • 4-Year Colleges.

Virginia Police Departments

The state of Virginia has multiple police departments, including the following:

  1. Mount Jackson Police Department.
  2. Fairfax County Police Department.
  3. Henrico County Police Department.
  4. Richmond Police Department.
  5. Winchester Police Department.
  6. Vienna Police Department.
  7. Salem City Sheriff’s Office.
  8. Herndon Police Department.

For a complete listing of the Police Departments in the state, you may visit the official Virginia State Police website.

Virginia Police Training Academies

Virginia is home to 10 police training academies. These are:

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

Virginia Highway Patrol Officers or Troopers Requirements

If you want to become Highway Patrol Officers or State Troopers in Virginia, then the requirements are nearly the same as those for becoming police officers. The exact requirements may vary in different parts of the state, but in most cases, the following general requirements would be applicable:

  • Candidates should be residents of Virginia.
  • Candidates should be at least 21 years old.
  • Candidates ought to have a GED or a high school diploma.
  • Candidates should be US citizens.
  • Candidates need to possess a clean driving record and a valid driver’s license.

Virginia Deputy Sheriff Requirements

The requirements to become a Virginia Deputy Sheriff are more or less the same as those for other positions. The minimum age requirement is 21 and the minimum education requirement is a GED or a high school diploma. Candidates should be citizens of the US. The duties of a deputy sheriff will mostly involve working in the Detention Center or providing security services at the local courthouse.

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

Virginia has one of the highest employment levels for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in the US with nearly 18,700 officers. The annual mean wage for this category is $56,290 in the state of Virginia.

Duration to Become a Police Officer in Virginia

Given that a candidate decides to complete an associate or a bachelor’s degree in law, combined with the application and hiring process, it can take two to five years to become a police officer in Virginia, VA. On average it takes around 13 to 19 weeks to complete training at the police academy.

Employment And Salary for Virginia Sheriff’s Patrol And Police Officers

O*Net Online forecasts a 6% increase in employment opportunities for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in Virginia, VA between 2018 and 2028. The corresponding national average for this occupation is 7% between 2018 and 2030. $59,720 is the annual mean salary of police officers in Virginia, VA as per BLS in 2021. Below are the top 5 highest paying states for this occupation in the US in 2021.

State Annual Mean Wage
California $102,920
Washington $92,390
New Jersey $91,690
Alaska $87,510
Illinois $82,800

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

Police Education and Training

It is becoming more and more competitive to become a law enforcement officer. This is one of the main reasons why higher education and professional degree has become increasingly important for those who want to join a law enforcement agency. Although the minimum requirement to join the force in Virginia, VA is high school diploma, more and more people are seeking associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field. This is to build knowledge and skills that can improve a law enforcement career. Criminal justice degree explores various aspects of crime and prepares students for roles in public safety, security, law enforcement, and judicial system.

Police Officer Training in Virginia

Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB) stands as the approval authority in Virginia, VA, setting the standards for law enforcement training. The Committee on Training (COT) under CJSB sets training objectives, lesson plans, and criteria to support performance outcomes. To become a police officer in Virginia, 480 hours of basic training and 100 hours of field training is the basic requirement.

Recruits are given training in legal issues, professionalism, investigations, patrolling, weapon use, defensive tactics and use of force, and driver training. After finishing basic academic classes, recruits are given field training in which they learn how to respond to calls and act in different circumstances.

Training Institutions for Police Officers in Virginia

Police training academy prepares recruits for dangerous situations, training them to respond to different types of crimes. Working as law enforcement officer is quite an unpredictable job, as police officers can face unforeseen and risky situations on duty. In Virginia, VA, Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB) establishes the curriculum and sets training standards for police officers. Below are some certified academies in Virginia that provide basic training to the police officers.

  1. Richmond Police Department-Training

Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the Richmond City Police Department screens and selects the most qualified candidates for training. The basic recruit training takes 32 weeks to complete.

  1. Chesterfield Police Training Academy

Located in Central Virginia near the City of Richmond, the Chesterfield County Police Department is a progressive department. The basic training at the academy consists of non-residential 32 weeks program and a two-month field training period.

  1. Portsmouth Police Training Academy

The basic training takes place at the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy (HRCJTA) and is an intensive 16-week program. The training challenges recruits mental and physical capabilities, providing knowledge in crime law, basic investigations, surveillance, defensive tactics, firearms, and evidence collection.

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