How to Become a Police Officer in Missouri
Missouri is the “Show Me State” and residents here are proud of their midwestern heritage. With rural farmland, thriving suburbs and the cultural metropolises of Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri has something for everyone. That includes anyone interested in a career in law enforcement. There are 12,810 cops and sheriff’s deputies employed here with plenty of opportunities for new recruits.1
The Missouri Department of Safety’s Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, is responsible for setting the minimum requirements for working in law enforcement in the state. It also sets the examination that all hopeful cops and deputies must pass.
Missouri Police Officer Requirements
In order to work in law enforcement in the state of Missouri, whether that means working for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, as a county sheriff’s deputy, or as a cop for a city police department, a recruit must meet the minimum peace officer licensing standards as set by POST. New recruits must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a citizen of the US
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Graduate from an authorized state basic law enforcement training academy
- Pass the Missouri Peace Officer License Exam
- Not have a criminal history
Missouri Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Missouri State Highway Patrol hires troopers to enforce traffic laws and promote safety on the state’s highways. They also investigate crashes, deal with roadway emergencies, assist local police departments, and investigate crimes. After going through a rigorous hiring process, those offered employment must go through a 25-week session at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement Academy. New recruits hoping to become troopers must:
- Meet the minimum standards set by POST
- Undergo a background evaluation and polygraph test
- Have completed 30 college credit hours, served two years in the military, or worked as a POST-licensed peace officer
- Not have tattoos that would be visible in uniform
- Be able to work weekends, nights or holidays
- Be willing to accept an assignment anywhere in the state
- Pass physical and mental health examinations
- Pass a drug test
- Demonstrate good moral character
Missouri Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Each Missouri county sets its own hiring process for sheriff’s deputies. The minimum requirements for working as a deputy are those set by POST, but each sheriff’s office can include further requirements, testing, and hiring procedures.
Jackson County is home to the state’s largest city, Kansas City, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office offers opportunities for young recruits hoping to work in law enforcement. Patrol deputies have the chance to work with the K-9 Unit, the Motorcycle Unit, the ATV Unit, or the Emergency Response Tactical Team. When hiring, the office gives priority to individuals who are already POST-certified for working in a Class A county.
The capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, is also the county seat of Cole County, where the sheriff’s office sets strict standards for recruiting deputies. In addition to POST licensing, new recruits must:
- Have completed 60 college credit hours, served three years in the military, or worked three years as a POST-licensed peace officer
- Not have visible tattoos
- Have a clean driving record
- Have no felony convictions or arrests
- Pass an extensive background check, including a polygraph test
Police Departments in Missouri
For those hopeful future cops, Missouri offers a variety of local police departments. From small, rural departments to the big cities, Missouri has plenty of opportunities for new cops. To become an officer in any of the state’s local departments, a new recruit must meet the POST standards and pass the exam to become licensed. Once this has been achieved an individual must then meet the requirements of the local department, be offered employment, and complete a course at a training academy.
Kansas City is Missouri’s largest city and it sits on the border with Kansas, right next to that state’s Kansas City. The population is around 460,000 and the city is most famous for its legendary barbecue. Recruits to the Kansas City Police Department must first meet the POST standards and pass the exam and a physical abilities test. The recruits must then:
- Undergo a background check
- Pass a polygraph test
- Go on an officer ride-along
- Pass an oral interview
- Pass a physical and psychological examination
Once a candidate has successfully completed each stage of the hiring process, he or she is placed in a pool of eligible candidates. Only when the recruit has been offered employment from this pool will he or she then attend and complete a training academy program. For more information on the KCPD, refer to our How to Become a Police Officer in Kansas City page.
St. Louis may not be the state’s largest city, but together with its suburbs it is the largest metropolitan area in the state and has a large police force. It has also been recognized as the 20th best city in the country for working as a police officer.2 The Metropolitan Police Force of St. Louis requires that new recruits:
- Complete 30 college credit hours within 24 months of being hired
- Become a resident of St. Louis within 120 days of being hired
- Have no felony convictions
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Pass a physical examination and meet fitness requirements
Police Training Academies in Missouri
Once a new recruit for law enforcement has been hired by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a county sheriff’s office, or a local police department, completion of a POST-approved academy program is the next step. Some departments have their own training academies for recruits. For example the Highway Patrol sends its recruits to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement Academy. Some of the other state academies include:
- Kansas City Regional Police Academy – Kansas City, MO
- St. Louis Police Academy – St. Louis, MO
- Springfield Police Regional Training Center – Springfield, MO
- Law Enforcement Training Institute University of Missouri – Columbia, MO
- Missouri Sheriff’s Association Training Academy – Jefferson City, MO
For a complete list of the approved academies see the POST website.
Missouri Police Jobs Outlook
Cop and deputy sheriff hopefuls in Missouri have a bright future to look forward to with expected growth in the number of positions available over the next few years. Projections suggest that law enforcement jobs will grow by 4.4 percent and will add an average of 430 new positions for patrol officers and deputies each year through 2022.3 Starting salaries across the state vary for new recruits, but the average salary is a reasonable $45,020.4
For more information about current law enforcement openings, take a look at our Police Jobs page.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Missouri
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm#33-0000
2. Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis: http://www.slmpd.org/hr_commissioned.shtml
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm