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Sheriff And Deputy Sheriff Careers

Career Description

Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs maintain order, enforce laws and ordinances, and protect life and property in an assigned patrol district. Perform combination of following duties: patrol a specific area on foot or in a vehicle; direct traffic; issue traffic summonses; investigate accidents; apprehend and arrest suspects, or serve legal processes of courts.

Common Work Tasks

  • Enforce the law on the county level
  • Drive vehicles or patrol specific areas to detect law violators, issue citations, and make arrests
  • Investigate illegal or suspicious activities
  • Verify that the proper legal charges have been made against law offenders
  • Execute arrest warrants, locating and taking persons into custody
  • Record daily activities and submit logs and other related reports and paperwork to appropriate authorities
  • Patrol and guard courthouses, grand jury rooms,  or assigned areas to provide security, enforce laws, maintain order, and arrest violators
  • Notify patrol units to take violators into custody or to provide needed assistance or medical aid
  • Place people in protective custody
  • Take control of accident scenes to maintain traffic flow, to assist accident victims, and to investigate causes

Other Job Titles

Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Police Officers
  • Police Chiefs
  • Bailiffs
  • Correctional Officers

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Applicants usually must have at least a high school education, and some departments require 1 or 2 years of college coursework or, in some cases, a college degree.

Law enforcement agencies encourage applicants to take courses or training related to law enforcement subjects after high school. Many entry-level applicants for police jobs have completed some formal postsecondary education, and a significant number are college graduates. Many junior colleges, colleges, and universities offer programs in law enforcement or administration of justice.

Physical education classes and participating in sports are also helpful in developing the competitiveness,  stamina, and agility needed for many law enforcement positions. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many Federal agencies and urban departments.

  Most sheriffs and deputy sheriffs start out as police officers and work their way up to sheriff. Candidates should enjoy working with people and meeting the public.  Because personal characteristics such as honesty, sound judgment, integrity,  and a sense of responsibility are especially important in law enforcement,  candidates are interviewed by senior officers, and their character traits and backgrounds are investigated. In some agencies, candidates are interviewed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist or given a personality test. Most applicants are subjected to lie detector examinations or drug testing. Some agencies subject sworn personnel to random drug testing as a condition of continuing employment.


The median annual salary for a Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff is $49,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $76,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $29,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of sheriffs and deputy sheriffs are:

  • Local Government- $50,330
  • State Government - $55,780
  • Federal Executive Branch - $47,970
  • Colleges, Universities, and Other Professional Schools - $44,010
  • Junior Colleges - $43,240

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  N/A
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: N/A
  • Employment 2006 : N/A
  • Employment 2016:  N/A
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