Sheriff Jobs – Deputy Sheriff Careers and Job Description

Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff careers are in high demand and will continue to grow for years to come. Although there are fewer sheriff jobs than those of police officer, an opportunity for a life of adventure is definitely there.

Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs enforce the law on the county level. Sheriffs’ departments tend to be relatively small, most having fewer than 50 sworn officers. Sheriff’s Deputies have law enforcement duties similar to those of officers in urban police departments. Note that Sheriffs are usually elected to their posts and perform duties similar to those of a local or county police chief. Sheriffs’ deputies who provide security in county courts are sometimes called bailiffs.

People depend on sheriff deputies to protect their lives and property. They carry out these duties in a variety of ways, but the premise is the same: pursue and arrest individuals who break the law and issue citations or give warnings. The majority of sheriff officers patrol their jurisdictions and investigate any questionable events they observe. In most jurisdictions, they are expected to exercise authority when necessary, whether on or off duty.

Deputy Sheriff Requirements

In most cases, Deputy Sheriffs must be U.S. citizens (born or naturalized). To start a Sheriff’s Deputy career, a person must pass a written test, a physical exam, and be at least a high school graduate – see Education and Training below for more info.

Education and Training

Many Sheriff departments require only a high school diploma for one to be eligible for a police officer position. However, there are numerous agencies that require at least an Associate degree or a college credit equivalent.

Deputy Sheriff training is for the most part carried out by state certification programs and/or police academies. Law enforcement certification programs and academy sessions usually last several months. Deputy Sheriff hopefuls that need to attend an academy may be required to stay on the premises at all times throughout training, with exception of weekends.

Training includes classroom instruction in constitutional law and civil rights, State laws and local ordinances, and accident investigation. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in patrol, traffic control, the use of firearms, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response.

It is highly recommended that deputy sheriffs continually upgrade their education, especially those with little or no college education. As time on the force goes by, opportunities for advancement are often granted to those that invested in their self-development through agency sponsored training, certificate programs, and completion of Bachelor level or even advanced degrees. Many agencies pay all or part of the tuition for officers to work toward degrees in criminal justice, police science, administration of justice, public administration, and others. Deputy Sheriff salaries are often gauged on the amount of training and formal education an individual possesses.

Sheriff Deputy Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sheriff’s patrol officers has median annual earnings of $47,460. The middle 50 percent earns between $35,600 and $59,880. The lowest 10 percent earns less than $27,310, and the highest 10 percent earns more than $72,450.

The salary information will be updated here with a new release of salary statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so don’t worry about years of difference – it’s just a formality. Salaries for the current year are not that far off, but for the most accurate information call or visit the agency in question. Many police departments offer salary, benefit, and hiring info right on their website.

Career Opportunities

Sheriff Deputy officers have many criminal justice career opportunities that can be obtained through tenure, training, and education. Some of the sheriff jobs include: Detective / Investigator, Crime Scene Investigator, Bailiff, Narcotics Officer, K9 Officer, and SWAT Officer. Sheriff departments across the country also participate with other local, county, state, and federal agencies in lowering crime through inter-agency collaboration.

Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

11 comments… add one
  • Diane Mims

    I am interested in applying for a position for criminal investigator or sheriff civil investigator if someone could contact me with more information.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      For any criminal investigator or sheriff civil investigator positions please “Google” the department of interest. Many Sheriff Offices have their own website with job offerings, position descriptions, salary and benefits info.

  • Rony

    I think if they would of raise the salary of the sheriff deputies higher a lot more people would want to become a sheriff. I love the job but I’m not really liking the salary. Does your salary go up higher if you have a AA or BA degree in criminal justice or it remains the same? But anyways, do sheriff deputies get called in to work anytime, such as in the middle of the night, for any reason or for a specific reason(s)?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Certain counties pay more than others, especially those that serve a larger city vs. a rural area only. The county serving Los Angeles, CA — I think it’s Los Angeles County — pays pretty well to start. I think people get the misconception that you’ll be stuck at the same salary, but granted you are a good officer and work for a progressive county, things seem to move around faster (salary increases, career advancement, etc.)

      Many law enforcement agencies reward those with college degrees. Criminal Justice is very much in demand if you are considering to be a Law Enforcement Officer, like a Deputy Sheriff.

      These same agencies that offer rewards for academic achievements take care of those — for the most part — who completed a higher level degree. So, for example, if an Associate’s pays $35,000 to start a Bachelor’s degree could pay $38,000 and a Master’s $42,500. Of course, it’s an example.. but, you can expect a higher payout and even faster movement through ranks/departments when carrying a college degree ( the higher the better – in my honest opinion ). Yes, there are some departments that payout the same regardless of educational accomplishments. These are usually small agencies and/or those in rural areas.

      Yes, Sheriff Deputies are on call 24/7 as is any law enforcement officer, but I think the actual percentage of those who actually get “called on” is small – with exception of detectives, SWAT, tactical teams, etc. If you get called to come in, it’s usually for a relevant reason.

      • Rony

        Ok thank you for the response Radek. I’d also like to know the difference between a sheriff deputy and a State Trooper. I already know that sheriff deputies patrol in the county level and the Troopers patrol in the state level.

        I also heard that sheriff deputies sometimes have to be in the correctional in jail; which, by the way, I’m not interested in. I want to know whether it’s a certain types of sheriff deputy that does correctional or all.

        • Radek M. Gadek

          Yes, you got the first one right on the money. However, depending on the county, you may OR may not be required to work at a prison or work at a court, before being placed on your own route / participate in investigative work. Please contact the county Sheriff’s Office in question. Also, you might find this info readily available on the Sheriff’s Office Website.

  • kyle croten

    what is the difference between civil deputy and criminal deputy?

  • Fredrick Bishop

    I’m getting ready to retire from the military in about 2 plus years. I will be about 40 yrs old. Is there an age limit to become a sheriff?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Military experience, especially military law enforcement experience, can serve as an age-requirement waiver. It’s agency dependent and I highly recommend you visit the website / contact directly the agencies you’re interested to work with. Good luck!

  • kim

    Could you become a sheriff if you were charged with a DWI but the case was dropped but you still had to get an interlock because you did not meat the 10 days to fight it at the MVD?

  • Iban

    Can I still be in Orange County sheriff with a DUI

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