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How to Become a Police Officer in Nevada

Working in Nevada law enforcement is a wise choice for anyone looking to become a police or patrol officer. With a large law enforcement presence, the state is currently looking for qualified officers to help and protect local communities. The state’s police force, currently comprised of 4,440 sworn police and patrol officers, is overseen by the Nevada Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (POST), which sets the requirements for law enforcement and training certification.1

Nevada Police Officer Requirements

Although Nevada’s POST requirements for police candidates are considered to be the statewide standard, many local police departments will require additional prerequisites in order to be eligible for employment. For example, the state requires that all Nevada police candidates must hold a US high school diploma or equivalent GED certificate. However, many local police or sheriff departments expect new recruits to have a college degree before being accepted into the training program. In most cases, even if having a college degree is not mandatory, a two-year degree or higher can generally improve your chances of employment.

The minimum standards required by Nevada’s POST regulations are that candidates must:

  • Be a US citizen, by birth or naturalization process
  • Be at least 21 years old at the time of appointment
  • Have a US high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Submit to a full extensive background check, which will include checks into criminal behavior, drug use, driving record, financial history, employment history, etc.
  • Submit to a complete physical and psychological evaluation
“Many young people spend a lot of their time and money pursuing a degree in criminal justice before they get hired. In a Civil Service state that degree will not help you till you score high enough for consideration. My personal recommendation would be to pursue a degree in a separate field that interests you that intersects with police work (psychology, social services, etc) before you get hired and consider a criminal justice degree after hire.” – Thomas Gerace, Police Lieutenant and FBI National Academy Graduate

Nevada Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) is a division of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The current chief is Colonel Dennis S. Osborn, a 20-year veteran of public service. Going back to 1908, today the Nevada Highway Patrol has 356 commissioned officers and 177 civilians working to serve the Nevada highways.2

For anyone looking to work in the NHP division, applicants must be US citizens and 21 years of age by the time of employment. Once the minimum requirements have been met, recruits must complete a basic law enforcement training program that lasts approximately five months.

Nevada Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements

Nevada has sixteen counties and each county has an elected sheriff. Currently, Clark County Sheriff’s Department serves the most populous county in the state with Las Vegas serving as the county seat.

To become a sheriff’s deputy in Clark County, candidates must pass the physical and written examination, pass an extensive background check and drug screen. If candidates are given clearance to move forward in the recruitment process, they will face an oral board review and upon approval, they will be allowed to enroll in the police training academy.

Police Departments in Nevada

Working in law enforcement in Nevada is a great decision for anyone looking for a solid career as a police or sheriff patrol officer. It’s a dynamic state with a large population of 2,790,136, the majority of which reside in Las Vegas.3 The bustling tourist destination of Las Vegas is protected and served by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD or Metro).

Las Vegas

The LVMPD is a the police force serving both the city of Las Vegas and the county of Clark. The LVMPD is managed by the Sheriff of Clark County, Joseph Lombardo, who was elected in 2014. Anyone interested in working as a cop in Nevada would be wise to consider the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. Covering 7,560 square miles and protecting a jurisdiction population of 1,483,047, the LVMPD is also responsible for protecting nearly 4 million tourists each year.4 With around 3,747 employees, sworn and civilian, the LVMPD is not only the largest police department in the state of Nevada, but also one of the largest departments in the country.4

The requirements to become a Nevada police officer are that candidates must:

  • Be 21 years old
  • Be US citizen by birth or naturalized by the time of application
  • Hold a US high school diploma or GED
  • Meet all physical requirements need to fulfill the job duties
  • Submit to an extensive background check
  • Have no history of felony conviction, domestic violence or more than one DUI

For more information on the Las Vegas Police Department, take a look at our in-depth guide on How to Become a Police Officer in Las Vegas.

“Police officers go through extreme stress day in and day out while on shift. Know your weaknesses. You will see humanity at its worst. Always be at your best. Ask for help from fellow officers and supervisors. You are not a one-man or woman crime crusader. You are part of a team.”- Suzy Ivy, Police Detective and Author of Bad Luck Detective

Police Training Academies in Nevada

Nevada’s Basic Training Bureau is responsible for the training process for incoming peace officers. All of the basic training academies in Nevada use the curriculum developed by the bureau, which can last up to 16 weeks. During the program, cadets must attend an intense physical and mental training program as well as theoretical classroom time. All recruits must maintain an 80% or better on their grade average and pass the POST Physical Fitness Test (PPFT) to graduate.

Nevada POST-approved Training Academies:

  • High Sierra Regional Law Enforcement Academy – Reno, NV
  • Las Vegas Metro Training Academy – Las Vegas, NV
  • Nevada Department Of Corrections Academy – Carson City, NV
  • Nevada Law Enforcement Academy – Carson City, NV
  • Nevada Peace Officer Standards and Training – Carson City, NV
  • North Las Vegas Police Department Training Center – North Las Vegas, NV
  • Nye County Sheriffs Office Regional Training Academy – Beatty, NV
  • Southern Desert Regional Police Academy – Henderson, NV

Nevada Police Jobs Outlook

Although Nevada has a number of vibrant, expanding communities, led by bustling Las Vegas, the projected law enforcement outlook is positive. According to Projections Central, the growth for police and sheriff’s patrol officers is estimated to be 5% over the 10-year period from 2012 to 2022.5 For that same period of time, there will be an estimated 160 annual job openings.5 Cops in Nevada can expect to earn an average salary of around $68,110, which is on par with the highest tier for police officers in the country.1

In terms of future employment prospects, Nevada police recruitment cycles will mainly be affected by the large amount of baby boomer-era police officers expected to retire over the next five to ten years, leaving job openings in many local departments.

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Nevada

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Las Vegas-Paradise 2,910 $71,050
Western Central Nevada nonmetropolitan area 230 no data
Other Nevada Nonmetropolitan Area 320 $55,420

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Nevada: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nv.htm
2. Nevada Highway Patrol: http://nhp.nv.gov/
3. US Census Bureau, Nevada: http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/32
4. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, 2013 Annual Report: http://www.lvmpd.com/Portals/0/pdfs/2013AnnualReport.pdf
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm