A state trooper, also called highway patrol officer or state police officer, enforces laws on interstates, highways, and local roads. State troopers also assist motorists with car trouble and those who have been involved in accidents; preparing reports and other information for police detectives in ongoing criminal investigations is another common job duty.
State troopers work with other law enforcement officials to ensure the safety of roads; in carrying out their responsibilities they may also issue citations, arrest suspects, and direct traffic.
Regardless of the education level obtained, aspiring state troopers must attend a police academy for specialized training; requirements for admission to training vary by state but may include restrictions on age and physical capabilities.
A state trooper is required to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent; an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or related discipline may be beneficial. Helpful courses include criminology, law enforcement, policing, police science, corrections, and law and ethics.
Candidates must also be United States citizens and pass a written test; further training at a police academy is also required. Prior work experience is often a prerequisite as well, and military experience is especially valued.
Earnings for state troopers vary according to experience and rank, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the median annual wages of police and sheriff’s patrol officers were $51,410. The middle 50 percent made between $38,850 and $64,940 with the highest earners in the state government ($57,270).
Notably, in addition to wages, police officers get paid for overtime and also receive sick leave, medical and life insurance, and paid vacation. They usually get a uniform allowance as well, and it is not uncommon for officers to retire at half-pay after working for 25 to 30 years.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment opportunities for police officers and detectives will grow at about the average rate for all occupations with those with college credits and/or military experience having an edge.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics