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How to Become a Police Officer in Alaska

Over 1,000 law enforcement officers protect and serve Alaska’s population of 736,000 people.1,2 The cost of living is high in Alaska, 35% higher than the national average, but cops are compensated well in Alaska, earning an average salary of $75,670.3,1 This starting salary coupled with the number of police officers in the state makes Alaska an ideal location for aspiring cops. Each police department in Alaska has specific standards and requirements. Below are some statewide requirements that all cops in Alaska must meet with highway patrol-, sheriff deputy- and city-specific requirements following.

Alaska Police Officer Requirements

The Alaska Police Standards Council certifies all law enforcement officers in Alaska, develops and funds law enforcement training, provides polygraph psychological exams for incoming officers of certain states, and decertifies cops when necessary.

Potential police officers who want to uphold public safety in Alaska must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have been fingerprinted
  • Have no felony convictions or misdemeanors of domestic violence anywhere in the US, another territory or by a military court
  • Not have used marijuana within one year prior to hire date (unless candidate was under 21 at the time of marijuana use)
  • Not have been decertified or suspended from a certified law enforcement agency in another state

Required Examinations

Aspiring cops in Alaska must undergo a background investigation, a physical fitness test, and a medical exam. In addition, applicants must pass a psychological exam administered by a state-licensed psychologist.

Alaska State Patrol Requirements

The Alaska State Troopers are assigned to five geographic areas that patrol, enforce laws and are the first line of search and rescue for the state. The troopers have two main bureaus, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol.

To become an Alaska state trooper, applicants must:

  • Be a US citizen or a resident alien who has demonstrated the intent to become a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Not have been discharged from a certified law enforcement position in any other state, territory or county
  • Not have used, purchased, or transported any controlled substance (other than marijuana) during the past 10 years.
  • Not have used marijuana within the last 12 months
  • Not received more than three fish and wildlife enforcement citations within the past three years
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence misdemeanors or misdemeanors that resulted in physical injury
  • Not have been convicted of two DUIs in the last ten years

Alaska Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Because Alaska has no counties, the state has no sheriff’s offices. The state troopers handle the duties that the sheriff’s deputies would typically handle.4

Police Departments in Alaska

Alaska has 51 police departments, employing 1,100 cops throughout the state.5,2 While all cops must meet the minimum criteria defined by the Alaska Police Standards Council, requirements for every police department may vary.

Anchorage

The Anchorage Police Department (APD) employs 560 officers with an hourly wage of $25.10 to $39.28.2,6 APD cops can work in patrol, drug enforcement, community affairs, or the K-9 unit.

To join the APD, hopeful cops must:

  • Be a US citizen or a permanent resident alien who has demonstrated intent to become a US citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age upon completion of the academy
  • Have a high school diploma or GED*
  • Have no misdemeanors within the past five years and no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license
  • Have no marijuana use within the past three years
  • Have no criminal convictions after age 21

*Associate degree or higher is preferred.

Juneau

Cops of the Juneau Police Department (JPD) serve and protect the state’s capital city. The JPD employs 90 individuals, 55 sworn officers and 35 civilian staff across two divisions, the operations division and the administrative services division.7 Starting pay for law enforcement officers is between $28.98 to $31.05 per hour.8

Candidates wishing to become a part of the JPD must:

  • Be a US citizen or resident alien authorized to work in the US
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license
    • Guidelines from the expert for police officers new to the field: “Don’t make anything personal! You can’t objectively enforce the law if you let your ego make decisions. Don’t get involved in the politics and gossip. Make your own decisions as to who is a good guy and who is not – avoid peer pressure!” – John Paolucci, retired police officer and forensics expert at the NYPD

      Police Training Academies in Alaska

      Basic training for law enforcement in Alaska is developed and monitored by the Alaska Police Standards Council. The course is a 24-week program where recruits receive training on defensive tactics, the use of firearms, and various law enforcement topics such as state law, officer survival training, and investigations, communications and traffic violations. The two basic training academies in Alaska are:

      • Anchorage Police Department Academy – Anchorage, AL
      • Public Safety Training Academy – Sitka, AL

      Alaska Police Jobs Outlook

      The are currently 1,100 cops in Alaska earning an average annual salary of $75,670, the third-highest salary for law enforcement officers in the nation.2. Projections say that by 2022, that workforce will increase by 1.6%, amounting to 90 job openings per year.9 With the handsome salary and a growing police force, Alaska would be a great place for an aspiring cop to begin his or her career. Planned retirements, especially of the baby-boomer generation, may create more job openings, but remember that employment is tied to local budgets.

      This information is a good start for those looking to become a police officer, but always remember: “A badge does not make you above the law. You should live by a higher standard. Traffic laws along with other laws are meant for you too.” – Susan Ivy, police detective and author of Bad Luck Detective

      To search law enforcement jobs in Alaska, check out our Police Jobs Board.

      Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Alaska

      City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
      Anchorage 560 $76,610
      Fairbanks 110 $68,700
      Southeast Alaska nonmetropolitan area 140 $68,970
      Railbelt 290 $79,750

      Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

      References:
      1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Alaska: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm
      2. US Census Bureau, Alaska: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/02000.html
      3. Sperling’s Best Places, Alaska: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/alaska
      4. National Sheriffs’ Association: http://www.sheriffs.org/
      5. Alaska Police Standards Council, Member Agencies: http://dps.alaska.gov/apsc/agencies.aspx
      6. Anchorage Police Department: http://www.muni.org/departments/police/joinapd/Pages/default.aspx
      7. Juneau Police Department: http://www.juneau.org/police/documents/2015AnnualReport.pdf
      8. Juneau Police Department: http://www.juneau.org/police/entry_officer.php
      9. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm