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How to Become a Police Officer in Arizona

Arizona employed 12,110 police officers in 2014.1 In fact, the metropolitan area of Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale had the tenth highest employment level for police officers in 2014.1 The Grand Canyon State is an excellent place to become a police officer, with high salaries and warm weather.

Police officers in Arizona work hard to protect the 6.7 million citizens of the state, to fight crime, and to maintain order in the state’s communities. Arizona enforces a minimum set of standards for those wishing to become a police officer, but each police department will usually have their own set of standards for recruits, in addition to these state-mandated ones. On this page, you can read about the minimum requirements for aspiring police officers in Arizona and find out information about certain police departments in the state.

Arizona Police Officer Requirements

The Arizona Peace Offerings Standards and Training (POST) Board sets the minimum standards and requirements for the state’s cops. While these minimum requirements apply to all potential police officers in the state, many individual police departments will set additional requirements for cops at their department. For example, POST may require police officers to possess a high school diploma or GED, but a certain police department may require recruits to hold an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Even in departments that require only a high school diploma or GED, candidates with a degree are usually preferred.

The minimum guidelines for becoming a police officer in the state of Arizona are as follows:

Nationality, Age and Education

Arizona police officer candidates must meet the following minimum requirements in order to become a police officer in the state. They must:

  • Have US citizenship
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Be 21 years of age upon graduation from the academy
  • Possess valid Arizona driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions

Required Examinations

In addition to the qualifications above, applicants must successfully complete several examinations in order to become a police officer in Arizona. These examinations include:

  • Written exam: 100-question multiple-choice; Must pass with 75% or higher
  • Physical exam consisting of sit-ups, push-ups, 1.5-mile run, 300-meter run, and agility run
  • Oral exam: interview covering interpersonal and problem-solving skills
  • Polygraph exam
  • Background investigation
  • Psychological evaluation performed by a psychologist
  • Medical exam
  • Drug test

Arizona Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Arizona Highway Patrol Division was established in 1931. The HPD is comprised of four Patrol Bureaus, a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau and the Aviation Section. There is a dedicated DUI squad. Since 2011, the Assistant Director of the Arizona HPD has been James McGuffin. Lt. Col. McGuffin joined the Arizona Department of Safety in 1986 as a highway patrol officer.

In order to become a part of the Highway Patrol Division (HPD) of Arizona, officers must pass the above listed guidelines for police officers. In the HPD, an officer might choose to work for a section like Arizona Law Enforcement Academy (ALEA) & Training, Aviation, Canine, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Directory/ Contacts, DUI Enforcement, Explorers, Freeway Service, Motorcycle, Reserves, or Student Transportation.

Arizona Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Arizona has 15 counties, each of which has been appointed a deputy sheriff. The largest sheriff’s office is the one in Maricopa County, which has over 750 sworn officers and nearly 3,000 civilian employees. A sheriff’s deputy’s minimum job requirements will vary by county, but they are similar to those for Arizona police officers. In Maricopa County, for example, sheriff’s deputies must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 21 years of age at the time of testing
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions within the last three years
  • Be able to pass a drug test
  • Have no dishonorable discharges from the armed service
  • Have no driver’s license suspensions within the last 12 months

Maricopa County

The largest sheriff’s office in Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) operates in the fourth largest county in the entire US. The current sheriff of Maricopa County is Joe Arpaio, who has been elected to office six times since 1992. In this post, he manages the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), the county jail, courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process.

The county is divided into six districts and includes four specialized units as well: Lake Patrol, Trails Division, Aviation Division, and a K9 Unit. Requirements to be a deputy sheriff for the MCSO are similar to those for police officers in the state, and also include being a US citizen, 21 years of age, possessing a high school diploma or GED, no recent drug use, and a driver’s license in good standing. All applicants must also pass a polygraph test, a physical test, and medical screening.

Police Departments in Arizona

In 2014, the state of Arizona employed 12,110 police and sheriff’s patrol officers.1 Officers in Arizona work hard to protect the communities of the state, which make up a large population of almost 7 million people. While cops must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board, each police department may have its own set of additional requirements for prospective officers.

Phoenix

Serving a large population of 1.6 million people (the sixth largest in the US), the Phoenix Police Department is staffed with nearly 3,000 officers and over 1,000 support personnel. The PPD is organized into six divisions, 23 bureaus, and has an operating budget of $577 million. The current Chief of Police is Joseph Yahner. Requirements to become a police officer for the PPD are similar to those for the state of Arizona, and include US citizenship, minimum of 21 years of age, a vision requirement, and no history of criminal or improper conduct. All applicants must also pass a rigorous physical and written examination, as well as a polygraph test and a variety of other screenings.

For more information on the Phoenix Police Department, check out our in-depth guide on How to Become a Police Officer in Phoenix.

Mesa

The Mesa Police Department (MPD) serves the third largest city in Arizona and the 38th largest in the United States, with nearly 500,000 residents. Cops at the MPD start with a salary of $50,960, but can make up to $76,502, with benefits including tuition reimbursement.2 To become part of the law enforcement staff at the MPD, recruits must be 21 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED (a college education is preferred), complete a background investigation, have a valid Arizona driver’s license, be a US citizen, and pass a medical and drug examination. After pre-screening is complete, recruits will undergo a physical fitness test, a written test, a selection interview, along with a background investigation before they are hired as full-time police officers. For more information on the MPD, see our How to Become a Police Officer in Mesa page.

Additional Police Departments in Arizona

How to Become a Police Officer in Tucson

Police Training Academies in Arizona

Candidates who have met all of the requirements and passed all of the exams must attend and complete training at one of Arizona’s 13 POST basic training academies.

Arizona POST training academies include:

  • Arizona Correctional Officer Training Academy – Phoenix, AZ
  • Arizona Law Enforcement Agency – Phoenix, AZ
  • Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy – Phoenix, AZ
  • Mesa Police Department Training Academy – Mesa, AZ
  • Pima County Sheriff’s Department – Tucson, AZ
  • Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center – Tucson, AZ
  • Western Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center – Lake Havasu City, AZ

See a complete list of Arizona Police Training Academies.

Arizona Police Jobs Outlook

The outlook for law enforcement careers in Arizona is strong. Projections Central predicts a 7.2% increase in police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the state through 2022, higher than the national average of 5% for the same period.3 860 new job openings are expected to open in the field each year in Arizona through 2022, promising for a state that employs around 12,000 law enforcement total.3,1

For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our Police Jobs Page.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Arizona

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale 7,760 $62,360
Tucson 1,740 $56,220
Flagstaff 500 $52,450

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

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
2. Mesa Police Department: http://www.mpdjobs.com/
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm