The Sunshine State offers a multitude of advantages for its 20.2 million residents, including great weather and good communities.1 Residents in Florida are served and protected by the estimated 38,770 police officers working in the state.2 The state-level requirements for becoming a Florida cop are similar to other states. However, individual agencies may have additional requirements on top of the state’s recommended standards. For example, many agencies require new recruits to have an associate degree, while the state educational minimum is a high school diploma or GED certificate. On this page, you’ll find out more about Florida’s requirements for law enforcement training as well as more information on the top police departments in the state.
Florida Police Officer Requirements
The Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission (CJSTC), housed under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, oversees the training procedures and certification of police officers in the state. The CJSTC requires that candidates for law enforcement positions in the state:
- Be a US citizen, by birth or naturalization
- Be at least 19 years old
- Be a high school graduate or hold a GED certificate
- Hold a bachelor’s degree (if looking to work as a correctional probation officer)
- Complete a background investigation based on fingerprints
- Not have any felony convictions nor disqualifying misdemeanors
- Have an honorable discharge, if a military veteran
“Of the many professions and jobs that you could choose, there are few that can be as fulfilling as ensuring the safety, wellbeing, and harmony of your community. No two days are the same and you will share an equal amount of smiles as you will tears. Law enforcement is not for everyone and is a career that cannot be entered into lightly. If it is your calling to help those who cannot help themselves and seek nothing in return, this can be the lifelong career you have been looking for.” -The Kissimmee Police Department.
Applicants who meet the basic qualifications must pass a number of exams, including a physical examination and a Commission-approved Basic Abilities Test (BAT). Applicants must also complete a formal interview with the hiring department.
Recruits must complete the Florida Basic Recruit Training Program or Cross Over Training Program for their respective discipline. Training must be completed at a CJSTC-approved academy. Once the training is complete, applicants have three attempts to achieve a passing score on the State Officer Certification Examination (SOCE). Once a candidate has completed the required training and passed the examination, they are eligible to be sworn in as Florida police officers.
In Florida, it is possible (and in some departments, required) to complete basic police academy training at the applicant’s own expense prior to becoming hired by a police department. Individuals who have completed the required basic recruit training and passed the State Officer Certification Examination have four years from the start date of their Basic Recruit Training Program to become employed as an officer in Florida.
“During the background investigation stage be very honest about your background with the investigator and [do] not withhold information. Often times applicants who would otherwise be eligible for hiring disqualify themselves by withholding information.” – Steve Casey, Executive Director of the Florida Sheriff’s Association
Florida Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Florida State Patrol operates under the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The Florida Highway Patrol has an authorized force of 1,946 sworn and 529 non-sworn employees.3 To become a state patrol officer in Florida, candidates must meet state requirements and:
- Not have a history of repeated traffic violations
- Not be more than 20 pounds over recommended weight (at the discretion of the medical examiner)
- Be willing to relocate to any duty station in Florida
The Florida trooper educational requirements state that all candidates must hold a high school diploma. However, candidates who hold an associate degree or higher are often given employment preference. The FHP also awards preference to military veterans.
Entry-level Florida state troopers earn a starting salary of $38,034 per year, with adjustments for higher cost of living area assignments.3 Troopers are eligible to apply for promotion after five years of service.
Florida Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Florida has 66 sheriffs, one for each of the state’s counties, except for Miami-Dade County, which has a countywide combined police and sheriff’s department.* In Florida, sheriffs serve four-year terms. Requirements to become a sheriff’s deputy in Florida can vary from county to county. The generally held requirements are that candidates must:
- Be at least 18 to work as a deputy
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Possess a valid Florida driver’s license
- Pass a background investigation
- Pass the vision, medical, psychological, and fitness evaluations and a polygraph test
*In a 2018 referendum, the state constitution was changed to require Miami-Dade County to reinstate the office and elect a sheriff in 2024.
“Do your research on the different agencies you may be interested in working for to see which one best suits your goals and aspirations. Above the common information regarding benefits, pension, and pay, consider researching the agency’s options for promotional opportunities, type of equipment they provide, what specialized entities within the organization are available in the future, and how often those positions become available, is there a patrol vehicle take-home policy in place, and what sort of in-house training is conducted and offered by the department throughout the year. Most often, this information is overlooked. Answers to these questions can help a potential new hire decipher between agencies which can and will provide a better quality of life for the individual seeking employment.” – Lou Marino, Lieutenant-Training, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is the largest sheriff’s office in the US, with 5,500 sworn and non-sworn employees and an annual budget of $730 million.4 The office provides law enforcement and fire rescue emergency services across Broward County. To become a Broward County sheriff’s deputy, candidates must meet state requirements and:
- Pass the Florida Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Basic Abilities Test, swimming test, and basic motor skills test (must be done prior to application)
- Possess a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) certificate at the time of application
- Provide a full and complete Department of Motor Vehicles driving history for each state of residence in the past 10 years
Palm Peach County
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) has 1,584 sworn law enforcement officers, 697 sworn corrections officers, and 1,905 civilian support staff.5 Over 1.4 million people live within the county’s borders, which encompass 2,383 square miles and 45 miles of ocean shoreline.5 Prospective sheriff’s deputies must fulfill state requirements and must also:
- Provide in-depth documentation including birth certificate; naturalization records; an original social security card; a full driving history; any court documentation pertinent to marital status and changes; college transcripts; military history; or records of name changes
- Provide proof of auto insurance meeting or exceeding state minimum coverage
- Not have any at-fault driving incidents within the past 12 months and no license suspensions within the past three years
Sheriff’s deputies in Broward County earn a monthly salary of $4,567, or $54,804 per year.5
Police Departments in Florida
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has 38,770 police officers.2 Each city typically has its own primary police department. The largest police department in Florida is in Miami-Dade County.
The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) is the largest police department in Florida, providing police and sheriff services with approximately 2,700 sworn officers and 1,400 support personnel to 2.7 million county residents.6 To become a police officer in Miami, applicants must meet state requirements and:
- Hold an associate’s degree or 60 college credits; have two years of active military service; one year of full-time sworn law enforcement experience; or three years of full-time work experience post-high school
- Pass the department’s Physical Abilities Test
Miami-Dade cops earn a starting annual salary of $52,380 per year.6 For more information on the Miami Police Department, take a look at our Miami police guide.
The Tampa Police Department (TPD) has approximately 951 sworn and 261 non-sworn employees.7 Tampa is one of the many cities that competitively recruit candidates with college degrees. In order to work as a Tampa police officer, candidates must meet state requirements and:
- Have an associate degree or completion of two years of college (60 semester or 90 quarter hours in total), or hold a high school diploma and have three years prior law enforcement experience or three years of military experience
- Not have any visible tattoos or body modifications while in uniform
- Be law-enforcement certified at the time of application, if not a military veteran (a small number of applicants may be sponsored by the department for training each year)
The Orlando Police Department (OPD) depends on more than 700 active duty police officers to protect the approximately 240,000 citizens within its 110 square miles.8 To work as an Orlando police officer, candidates must satisfy state requirements and:
- Have a valid driver’s license with at least one year of driving history
- Have a good work history
- Have no history of drug use within the past three years
- Have vision correctable to 20/40
- Live within 35 miles of the intersection of Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue, Orlando, 32801
While not required, a college degree is preferred. Officers with a four-year degree earn $960 to $1,560 more per year depending on longevity; the base starting salary for officers is $48,276 per year.8
Additional Police Departments in Florida
If you are interested in a police department other than Miami-Dade, Tampa, or Orlando, check out the Florida city page below.
- How to Become a Police Officer in Jacksonville
Police Training Academies in Florida
All police candidates must attend an approved police training academy. Know that some Florida police departments require candidates to complete all or part of basic training at their own expense. For non-certified candidates, the program is 25 weeks. For those who already hold a Florida Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission Certificate, an eight-week transitional academy is typically available.
There are a number of accredited police academies in Florida, including:
- Broward County Sheriff’s Office – Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Citrus County Public Safety Training Center – Inverness, FL
- Criminal Justice Academy of Osceola – Kissimmee, FL
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement – Tallahassee, FL
- Miami Police Training Center – Miami, FL
See a complete list of Florida police training centers through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Florida Police Jobs Outlook
The future for law enforcement careers in Florida looks quite promising. Through 2026, police and sheriff’s patrol officer positions in Florida are expected to increase by 12.9%.9 There will be an estimated 3,270 average annual openings for law enforcement in Florida, including replacements.9 Many new officers will be needed to replace the high number of retiring baby boomer police officers in the coming years. Of course, local budgets also play a hand in the recruitment cycle of each police department.
For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.
“This is not a job. It is a profession. Jobs are tasks that you do where the outcome is miniscule and the benefit is even less. This profession gives you the ability to change someone’s life forever. This profession is not done because of self-gratification, money, or prestige; it is done for those that need a voice when they are not heard or a shield when they are not protected. This profession will constantly change on how you are to do your job but having the ability to be able to help someone will always remain the same.” -The Kissimmee Police Department.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Florida
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach||13,440||$71,380|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.10
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Florida: https://www.bestplaces.net/state/florida
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
3. Florida Highway Patrol: https://www.flhsmv.gov/florida-highway-patrol/about-fhp/
4. Broward County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.sheriff.org/Pages/Home.aspx
5. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.pbso.org/
6. Miami-Dade Police Department: https://www8.miamidade.gov/global/police/home.page
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26-state-cuts/table-26-florida.xls
8. Orlando Police Department: https://www.orlando.gov/Public-Safety/OPD/Apply-to-Become-an-Orlando-Police-Officer/
9. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Florida: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
The test is taken online and consists of 200 questions and the candidate needs to answer at least 80% to pass it successfully. The fourth step is to be recruited as an officer by a Florida agency. You have four years to choose an agency and start working there after completing the exams as listed above.How do you answer the question why do you want to be a police officer? ›
- Lower crime rates in the community.
- Help people build trust and respect for the police.
- Treat people of all backgrounds fairly.
- Work to help people understand the law better.
Felony records are the most relevant part of determining whether or not you are suitable for employment as a police officer. Crimes especially violence or domestic abuse can be problematic.Is it hard being a cop? ›
Police work is rife with circumstantial stressors. Our fuses and energy become short with sleep deprivation, long shift hours, societal isolation, and continued exposure to negative human elements. Because police officers are in constant danger, we are also overly suspicious of everything and everyone.How many sit ups does it take to pass the police test? ›
Train for Sit-Ups
They test the endurance and strength of your abdominal muscles. To pass the test, men and women must perform 40 and 35 sit-ups, respectively.
According to Wonderlic, a score of 20 to 27 is the particular range that best fits with the successful performance of police work. The national median score for police officers is 21, the equivalent of a 104 IQ, or just slightly above average.How do I pass a police interview? ›
- Know the keywords. ...
- Make a mental list of your skills and experience. ...
- Review common interview questions. ...
- Elaborate on your answers. ...
- Have a positive approach. ...
- Anticipate the participants. ...
- Plan to avoid failure. ...
- Prepare to discuss your future.
- Tell us a little about yourself.
- How did you hear about this job opening?
- What would you say is the most important thing about being a police officer?
- What are your strengths when working as a police officer?
- What are your weaknesses and what have you done to improve them?
Professionalism, Ethics, Personal Values, And Professionalism. that demonstrates good character and is marked by pride in self and career. Examples of these characteristics include service, integrity, respect, quality, fairness, honesty, courage, compassion, leadership, trustworthiness, and common sense.What things disqualify you from being a cop? ›
- Not a US citizen or resident alien having filed for citizenship.
- Inability to communicate with a variety of types of people as is expected of a police officer.
- Poor credit history.
- Poor job history (discipline, firing, attendance problems, lack of stability, etc.)
- Signs of immaturity from a background investigator.
Felony convictions. Serious misdemeanors. Current drug use or past drug abuse. Dishonorable discharge from military service.What is the hardest part of the police recruitment process? ›
Police Officer Assessment Centre. The police assessment centre is the hardest stage of the police officer recruitment process. You will undergo 5 hours of rigorous testing, and will take a number of challenging and difficult exercises. This is all designed to assess how suitable you are for a job in the police service.What personality makes the best cop? ›
- Communication skills. Are you the type who is extremely thorough when writing emails or letters? ...
- Compassion & empathy. ...
- Integrity. ...
- Negotiation skills. ...
- Eagerness to learn. ...
- Mental agility.
Even if you're in very good shape, applying to be a police officer requires commitment to fitness. The physical fitness tests for police officers include specific requirements for speed, distance and strength, in addition to passing scores on vision and hearing tests.Is being a cop a good idea? ›
In addition to a stable and attractive paycheck, police officers can look forward to health insurance, retirement packages and other benefits that many large private corporations don't usually provide their employees. A career in law enforcement can also provide quite a bit of upward mobility and career advancement.Will 100 sit-ups day do anything? ›
A sit-up is actually the least effective abs exercise you can do. Doing 100 sit-ups a day will not change your body in the slightest.How much do 100 sit-ups burn? ›
Assuming it takes you 3 to 6 minutes to complete 100 sit-ups, the total burn would be just over 15 calories.What happens if I fail my police fitness test? ›
But, if you fail the fitness test three times, you may be subject to Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures (UPP). It is recommended that a period of at least six weeks is advisable between each re-take to allow officers time to train to achieve the 5:4 standard.How can I prove my IQ? ›
To test your IQ, take the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale test if you're over the age of 16, or take the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale test if you're 16 years old or younger. If you're on a budget, sign up to take the Mensa admissions test, which includes an IQ test.Can you be denied a job as a police officer for being too smart? ›
Appellate courts in the U.S. have said that this is legal. Rejection of police person applicants who are “too smart” is sometimes based on a formal test where applicants that score more than just slightly above average in intelligence are rejected.
And though the belief is not entirely accurate, it's not wrong either. There is no official or universal bar or cutoff for IQ squares across the nation, but in at least some states, it is legal for police departments to reject applicants who score "too high" on intelligence tests.What should you not say in a police interview? ›
- You have no recollection of the alleged offence and cannot provide an accurate account.
- You do not understand the line of questioning.
- You are not guilty of the offence, but may have concerns about being implicated for a separate offence.
The police officer interview is known to be tough. Only those with the correct values, integrity, skills, and qualities that match the core competencies will pass.What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›
- Tell me about yourself.
- What attracted you to our company?
- Tell me about your strengths.
- What are your weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?
Accountability: Being responsible for your actions. Respect: Treating others as you would want to be treated. Integrity: Always doing the right thing. Service: Working to meet the community's needs.What is your weakness best answer? ›
Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.Why are police interviews so hard? ›
While any position may come with some doozies, police officer interview questions can be some of the most challenging ones around. Mainly, this is because of how law enforcement impacts the local community, as well as their position within the larger legal structure.What skills should cops have? ›
- Physical fitness.
- Critical thinking.
- Sound judgement.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Communication skills.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Strong moral character.
- Sense of ethics.
- legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations.
- knowledge of public safety and security.
- negotiation skills for keeping people safe.
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
- sensitivity and understanding for dealing with traumatic situations.
/pəˈlis/ an official force whose job is to maintain public order, deal with crime, and make people obey the law, or the members of this force: I think you should call the police. Police arrested two people in connection with the robbery. police.
In general, whether you're accepted into the police force depends on your performance on an exam and a medical assessment. However, there may be a few extra requirements for those with a history of depression, anxiety or another mental disorder.What is the most challenging for being a police officer? ›
They may feel they can't give up the emotional self-control, cynicism or other behaviors that help them react to work situations. Additionally, many cops struggle with mental or physical health issues from exposure to high stress, injury and diseases.Do police departments know what other departments I applied to? ›
They can specify which of the subscriber agencies they want their results to be sent to. Agencies in that system can see what other agencies an applicant applied to. Most other places, agencies will know what other outfits you applied to only if you tell them. If you are asked this, you should respond truthfully.Can you join the police with a drug conviction? ›
Police officers must uphold the highest of values, standards and behaviours. Anyone who is using illegal drugs will be ruled out of our recruitment process.How can I prepare for up police? ›
- Public Interest.
- Law & Order.
- Communal Harmony.
- Crime Control, Rule of Law.
- Professional Information (Basic Level), Police System, Contemporary Police Issues & Law and Order.
- Interest in Profession, Mental Toughness.
- Sensitivity Towards Minorities and Underprivileged, Gender Sensitivity.
But being a police officer isn't for everyone – it's one of the most challenging careers you can choose, being physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. You should consider whether you can: Deal with the complex and sensitive cases, requiring clear reasoning and evidence gathering.What is the best city to be a cop? ›
To Serve The Community
In fact, an incredible 68% of law enforcement officers chose their career path to help people and better serve society. In building a relationship with members of the community, police officers further gain the opportunity to reduce crime rates in the area.
Dating a police officer is like dating a self-assured person who can work independently without being frazzled by anything. So, being a police officer's partner can be reassuring. No matter what life or your relationship may throw at them, they will always be up for dealing with the challenge.What weight should a cop be? ›
at least 140 pounds but not more than 180 pounds.
Depending on the police department or city you ask, the answer varies. In the States, some police departments still refuse officers the right to expose their tattoos on the job, while others have opted to change their policies to be more inclusive of body art.How many miles do you run in Police Academy? ›
You should also be running at least 3 miles, 3 times a week, at a 9 minute per mile pace. Prior to reporting to the Academy, you should also be able to complete 50 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and 4 pull-ups.Do cops love their jobs? ›
A majority of officers (58%) say their work nearly always or often makes them feel proud. Almost as many (51%) say they nearly always or often feel frustrated by the job.Does being a cop change you? ›
Common themes of personality changes after becoming officers are a gradual increase in self-confidence and assertiveness, an emotional 'hardening,' and either more or less dogmatic.Why is being a cop so stressful? ›
Police work is highly stressful, since it is one of the few occupations where employees are asked continually to face physical dangers and to put their lives on the line at any time.Is the police polygraph test hard? ›
The polygraph test is often one of the most stressful exams for the prospective law enforcement officers. Therefore, it is a good idea to prepare for it in order to avoid to “falsely fail” it.What is the pass mark for police inspector exam? ›
65% (91 correct answers out of 140) for the inspectors' examination.What is a good grade on police exam? ›
Although the specific exam may vary by agency, written tests typically cover similar material. A passing score generally is 70% or above. If you get a higher score, it will give you an advantage when you enter the next stages of the selection process.What is the most difficult police academy? ›
Police Training Academy of New Jersey
The academy is considered the toughest due to the tough daily routine that the trainees have to follow. The trainees are called on the military drill at 6 AM in the morning, followed by breakfast. The daily training routine then continues until 10 PM in the night.
Can a person fail a lie detector test even if he/she is telling the truth? A person can fail a polygraph test even if he/she is telling the truth. A polygraph test does not measure whether a person is lying.
Can You Fail a Lie Detector Test if You Are Nervous? Nervousness may result in a person failing a polygraph test. Even if you aren't lying but because you are nervous, your blood pressure is high, and you are breathing heavily. As lie detectors cannot differentiate between Anxiety, nervousness and lying.Can a liar pass a polygraph test? ›
Yes, it is possible to lie and pass a polygraph. First, the machine itself has flaws which can be exploited and many consider these devices to be, at best, "pseudoscience"; it's best to do some reading on this aspect, as the discussion is lengthy.Who is 3 stars in police? ›
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP): Three stars.Who has 2 stars in police? ›
ASP ( ASSISTANT SUPIRENDENT OF POLICE) ONLY PROBATION WITH TWO STARS, RANK 2. 3. ACP( ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF POLICE ) OR DCP( DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF POLICE) WITH THREE STARS . 4.How can I crack the police exam? ›
- Understand the Syllabus. ...
- Make a Study Plan. ...
- View Best Study Materials. ...
- Reading Newspaper. ...
- Practice Mock Tests. ...
- Manage Your Time. ...
- Avoid Last-Minute Preparation. ...
- Don't Overburden Yourself.
a) Height : For males : 170 cms. For Females : 157 cms.Is there math on police exam? ›
The Entrance Exam for police officers measures the basic skills necessary to perform successfully as a police officer. The test covers four areas: (1) math skills, (2) reading comprehension skills, (3) language skills, and (4) writing skills.What is a 4 star cop? ›
CHIEF OF POLICE. The Chief of Police is denoted by the four silver stars on the uniform insignia. The Chief of Police is the highest ranking officer in the agency and is considered the department head.What are the weaknesses of a police officer? ›
Weaknesses in conventional policing are represented by miscarriages of justice, negligent investigations, failure to prosecute, vindictive investigations/prosecutions, excessive/inadequate penalties and wrongful convictions.Which state has the best police training? ›
|Overall Rank||State||Law Enforcement Training Requirements|
|4||District of Columbia||3|
- Be sure to get enough rest.
- Don't take criticism personally.
- Keep your career goals in mind.
- Build relationships with other recruits in your class.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Remind yourself often that it's okay to make mistakes while you're learning.