Everything You Need To Know About Becoming a State Trooper

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 22, 2021

Entering a career in law enforcement is a noble and demanding pursuit. State troopers are responsible for upholding state laws to keep their occupants safe. In this article, we'll describe what a state trooper does, provide their average salary, list the steps to become one, detail the qualities that are found in effective state troopers and answer some frequently asked questions regarding this occupation.

What does a state trooper do?

Also known as state police or highway patrol officers, state troopers patrol state highways to enforce traffic laws. Additionally, they often assist other law enforcement agencies in more rural areas. State troopers are tasked with keeping communities and roadways safe, which can be a dangerous and demanding responsibility. Because of this, individuals entering this field are required to undergo stringent training and testing to assess their ability to handle this oftentimes stressful career. Some of their primary duties include:

  • Making arrests

  • Providing detailed written reports to record events

  • Performing searches on vehicles and buildings

  • Aiding in investigating crime scenes

  • Gathering evidence

  • Monitoring suspects

  • Responding to calls

  • Patrolling areas

What is the average salary of a state trooper?

Though there is no salary information specifically for this position, generally law enforcement officers make an average of $49,594 per year.

How to become a state trooper

These steps will guide you in becoming a state trooper.

  1. Earn a college degree.

  2. Apply to become a state trooper.

  3. Attend the state trooper training academy.

  4. Pass tests and physical requirements.

1. Earn a college degree

The education requirements to become a state trooper will vary by state. For instance, Maine only requires their state troopers to have a high school diploma or GED before applying. However, in most states candidates are required to earn at least an associate's degree before attending the academy.

Though any degree is acceptable, a degree in criminal justice or another related field would benefit your career as a state trooper and give you an advantage over other candidates. Students that study criminal justice take courses that focus on policies and laws, criminal investigations, criminal procedures, police supervision and criminal behavior.

Some states accept relevant experience as a substitution for their education requirements. Veterans and police officers can often use their previous service in lieu of a college degree. This service usually includes any time in the reserves, National Guard or armed forces.

2. Apply to become a state trooper

Before attending the academy, you will need to apply and be accepted. A resume and cover letter are generally necessary during the application process so be sure that both adequately communicate any education and experience, as well as a passion for law enforcement. Part of the application process could also include a basic abilities test that is designed to test the comprehension and critical thinking skills of applicants, which indicates their likelihood of being successful at the academy.

3. Attend the state trooper training academy

The training academy to become a state trooper incorporates physical fitness training as well as classroom instruction. These courses vary in length depending on the state and can last as long as 24 weeks in some cases.

During their time at the academy, students are taught about firearms, emergency response protocols, traffic control, self-defense, constitutional and state laws and civil rights. Because there are stringent physical fitness requirements to become a state trooper, applicants should consider beginning their physical training before attending the academy.

4. Pass tests and physical requirements

After completing training, prospective state troopers must pass various examinations, such as:

Overall health examination

There is a standard health examination performed on all potential law enforcement officials. The vision and overall health are assessed by healthcare professionals to determine a candidate's fitness for this demanding profession.

Physical fitness assessment

These tests assess the stamina, speed and strength of prospective state troopers. The instructors measure a candidate's physical fitness by asking them to perform various physical fitness tasks, such as timing how quickly they can run (both long and short distance), measuring the number of pushups and sit-ups they can perform, assessing their flexibility and examining their vertical jump.

Physical abilities test

A physical abilities test is administered to measure a candidate's ability to perform essential job-related tasks. Their capabilities are tested through various physical tests, such as carrying a weighted dummy, climbing a wall and running. Oftentimes, these tests have a universal time limit that transcends gender or age.

Background check

Background checks are performed on all candidates to make sure that they don't have any problems from the past that could inhibit them from becoming a state trooper.

Polygraph test

To test their honesty, polygraph tests are administered to prospective state troopers.

Law enforcement psychological examination

This exam uses various assessment tools to build personality profiles for candidates. It is designed to measure a candidate's honesty, intelligence, maturity, and ability to handle stress.

Qualities of effective state troopers

Though most of the skills that are necessary for becoming an effective state trooper are taught in the academy, some inherent characteristics can ensure success in this field. Some of these traits include:

  • Interpersonal skills: As a state trooper, you will need to possess the ability to effectively interact with the public.

  • Critical thinking skills: Being able to think of innovative and creative solutions will be beneficial in this line of work.

  • Persistence: Maintaining the ability to respond quickly, regardless of fatigue, is imperative as a state trooper.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a list of frequently asked questions for those who want to become a state trooper.

  • What is the demand for state troopers?

  • Is there growth potential in the state trooper field?

  • Is being a state trooper dangerous?

  • Do state troopers have to do a lot of paperwork?

  • Do state troopers have to be witnesses in court?

  • Are there any licensure requirements to become a state trooper?

  • Do state troopers arrest criminals?

  • Once I become a state trooper, can I work in any state?

What is the demand for state troopers?

The demand for this position will vary by geographical location. However, the overall employment of police and detectives is expected to grow by 5% over the course of the next decade. This number is fairly average for all careers.

Is there growth potential in the state trooper field?

State troopers can advance to different ranks within the field, including senior trooper, captain, lieutenant and sergeant. Advancement is often gained through experience and continued education.

Is being a state trooper dangerous?

As with any occupation in law enforcement, being a state trooper can be dangerous at times. You could encounter criminals with weapons, combative individuals and vehicular dangers. You will be trained on how to deal with these situations while in the state trooper academy.

Do state troopers have to do a lot of paperwork?

There is a fair amount of paperwork involved in this line of work. State troopers must write tickets as well as fill out the necessary paperwork after an arrest or incident.

Do state troopers have to be witnesses in court?

State troopers are often called in to be witnesses and provide testimonies in court to give information about traffic citations and arrests that they made.

Are there any licensure requirements to become a state trooper?

There aren't any certification courses required to perform your duties as a state trooper. However, you do have to have a valid driver's license without any infractions within a certain amount of time.

Do state troopers arrest criminals?

At times state troopers do have to arrest people. After an arrest, it is the duty of the state trooper to transport the criminal to the nearest police facility.

Once I become a state trooper, can I work in any state?

The specific requirements for transferring to another state will depend on the state that you wish to move to. Some states will allow you to transfer without completing additional training, while others will require you to complete their specific requirements beforehand.

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