How to Become a Police Officer in Alabama
Alabama is a great place to live and an even better place to serve as a police officer. Alabama is home to over 4.8 million residents and has nine major cities.1 With a cost of living 11% lower and housing costs 33% lower than the national averages, law enforcement professionals can live comfortably in Alabama.2
According to the latest available data, 10,420 sworn police officers are employed in Alabama.3 Recently, 12 law enforcement agencies were merged to create the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. They include the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Investigation, the Fusion Center, the Criminal Justice Information Center, the Marine Police, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Enforcement, the Department of Revenue Enforcement, the Forestry Commission Investigations, the Public Service Commission Enforcement, and the Office of Prosecution Service Computer Forensics Lab. In addition to this agency, there are many police and sheriff’s departments across the state that can offer promising jobs for aspiring cops.
Alabama Police Officer Requirements
Candidates seeking to become cops in Alabama must have good moral character and meet several other qualifications. Prospective officers must:
- Be over age 17 to become a cadet, over age 20 to become a sworn law enforcement officer
- Be a US citizen
- Have either a high school diploma or GED
- Possess a valid driver’s license and have a three-year record of driving
- Have no felony convictions, nor pardons for felonies
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the US military
Any misdemeanors for domestic violence offenses may disqualify or make you a less desirable candidate for law enforcement. A candidate hoping to become an Alabama law enforcement officer must also be in good physical and mental health. Each applicant will need to undergo a physical exam and receive a physician’s declaration of the candidate’s good health and physical fitness in order to be appointed. Applicants will also need to undergo a psychological test.
In addition to your medical releases, you will be required to pass the physical ability/agility test which will include timed sit ups and push ups, climbing over a fence, running and climbing through small spaces like windows, and a timed run (discussed further below).
Multiple exams and one skills test are required to become an Alabama police officer. Throughout the police academy, candidates must maintain a score of at least 70% on all written tests. To graduate from the academy and become sworn officers, candidates must pass a physical agility exam which consists of completing a 1.5 mile run in less than 15 minutes and 28 seconds, 22 push-ups in 1 minute, and 25 sit-ups in 1 minute.
Police recruits must also pass a legal issues exam and a first aid exam, scoring 70% or more on both. Finally, the candidate must complete 43 hours of firearms training. Candidates must qualify to safely and effectively operate firearms on at least two of three scored attempts, including shooting a handgun and shotgun and proficiency with a patrol rifle.
Alabama State Trooper Requirements
The state of Alabama has 18 highway patrol offices. The Alabama Highway Patrol Headquarters is located in Montgomery and led by Chief Susanna Capps. For the details for each location including commanding officers, review the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency website.
In order to apply to be an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) trooper, candidates must:
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Be 21 years or older
- Be able to accept an assignment in any part of the state, not necessarily the candidate’s home county
- Pass the agency’s multiple-choice written exam; candidates are placed in the competitive application pool according to their exam scores
- Not have any disqualifying criminal convictions
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
In order to be selected for Alabama trooper training, candidates must:
- Have passed the Basic Ability Test for Law Enforcement Officers or hold an associate’s degree or higher
- Pass a physical agility test
- Pass a vision screening
- Complete a personal interview
- Undergo a full background check that will include a polygraph and testing for illegal drugs
- Pass a medical evaluation
Selected candidates will become trooper trainees. After training and a six-month probationary period, trainees will be eligible for promotion to ALEA troopers.
Alabama Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Alabama has 67 counties and there is at least one sheriff for each county. Jefferson County is the largest county in Alabama; its sheriff’s department has 573 sworn deputies and 168 civilian employees.4
To qualify as a sheriff’s deputy for Jefferson County, candidates must:
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Not have any felony convictions
- Not have any domestic violence convictions
- Pass a medical exam and drug test
- Possess a valid driver’s license and a good history or driving
- Pass the Alabama physical agility test and knowledge exams
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
Police Departments in Alabama
Alabama has 417 law enforcement agencies and roughly 250 sworn police officers per 100,000 residents.5 The state of Alabama covers 52,419 square miles. Its capital city is Montgomery and the largest city by population is Birmingham. Age requirements for aspiring police officers vary across the state, but all cities require candidates to possess a high school diploma or GED, have no felony convictions, possess a valid driver’s license, and not have been dishonorably discharged from the military.
The Birmingham Police Department (BPD) is led by Chief A.C. Roper. To qualify, candidates must be at least 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. The BPD has several divisions and task forces where officers can find career advancement opportunities. Project ICE (Isolate Criminal Events) works with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau to invest federal firearm violations. The Pawn Shop Detail reviews pawned property to identify burglary suspects. The Major Fraud Unit investigates white-collar crime in the city. The Victims Liaison Unit works to improve the way victims of crimes are treated. For more information on the Birmingham Police Department, see our How to Become a Police Officer in Birmingham page.
Montgomery, Alabama is home to one of the five largest police forces in the state. With 503 sworn police officers and 11 civilian employees, the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) serves 200,000 residents and an estimated 150,000 annual visitors.6,7 The MPD is led by Chief Ernest N. Finley, Jr.
Potential recruits must be a US citizen, have a high school diploma or GED, and be at least 19 years of age. Additionally, candidates must live within an hour from the police headquarters upon completion of the training academy. Montgomery Police Department offers lateral transfers for out-of-state Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST)-certified officers and military and federal police.
Under the leadership of Chief Lawrence Battiste, the Mobile Police Department (MPD) is actively recruiting police officers. The MPD employs over 490 sworn officers and 240 non-sworn employees.6 Candidates must possess a high school diploma or GED, but can earn higher base salaries based on the level of education completed.
Candidates must be 21 years old to be a sworn police officer, but individuals ages 17 to 22 years old can take advantage of MPD’s Civilian Cadet Training Program. This salaried program provides cadets with public safety training that will give them more experience if they decide to pursue becoming sworn and licensed later on.
The Mobile Police Department has several units that serve the city, including:
- Ranger Unit, a group designated to reduce crime in targeted areas
- Mounted Patrol Detail, patrol officers on horseback
- Traffic Safety Unit, officers that respond to traffic accidents, provides traffic escorts and enforces traffic laws such as the speed limit
- Tactical Response Unit, a team of officers that respond to hostage situations, barricaded suspects and sniper events
- Jaguar Detail, officers that respond to areas with high crime rates related to drug activity, shootings, and robberies
- Homeland Security Unit, a team that works with federal law enforcement agencies on matters of homeland security
- Marine Detail, officers stationed at the Port of Mobile, designated to protect citizens and visitors around the Carnival Cruise ship port
Police Training Academies in Alabama
Prior to becoming a licensed law enforcement officer, candidates must complete 480 hours of basic training at a school certified and authorized by the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOSTC). In addition to physical training, cadets will be exposed to the following topics:
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- General Topics
- Criminal Investigations
- Criminal Procedures and Laws of Evidence
- Juvenile Procedures
- Patrol Techniques
- Traffic Operations
- Offensive and Defensive Tactics
- Community/News Media Relations
- Firearms Training
There are ten approved training academies in the state of Alabama:
- Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center – Selma, AL
- APOSTC Law Enforcement Academy at Tuscaloosa – Tuscaloosa, AL
- APOSTC Law Enforcement Academy-Baldwin County – Stapleton, AL
- Birmingham Police Academy – Birmingham, AL
- Department of Corrections Training Academy – Selma, AL
- Huntsville Police Academy – Huntsville, AL
- Jefferson County Law Enforcement Academy – Fultondale, AL
- Mobile Police Academy – Mobile, AL
- Montgomery Police Academy – Montgomery, AL
- Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy – Anniston, AL
For details regarding each academy in Alabama, you can read more on APOSTC’s website.
If you fail any portion of the physical fitness test, you will be given a retest between 48 and 72 hours later. If you fail the test for the second time you are dismissed from the Academy. Because the agency only has six months to get you through a full 13-week academy, they will normally separate the failing officer at this point. So if you are interested in getting a job in law enforcement, find out the physical requirements and start training now. Your future job is dependent on it.” -Randy Vaughn, Director, Alabama Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Commission (APOSTC) Law Enforcement Academy-Tuscaloosa
Alabama Police Jobs Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 10,420 people serving as law enforcement officers in Alabama, earning an average of $44,490 per year.3 It is projected that by 2024, that workforce will grow by 4.9% to 11,210 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers.8 On average, there are expected to be 740 law enforcement job openings per year in the state.8 This number may fluctuate as budgets for new officers are closely tied to city budgets and priorities, and officers may retire, relocate, or change industries.
For a full listing of law enforcement jobs in your area, check out our police jobs board.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Alabama
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.3
1. US Census Bureau, Alabama: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/al/PST045217
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Alabama: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/alabama
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm
4. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department: https://jeffcosheriff.net/about-us/history/
5. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law
Enforcement Agencies, 2008: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
6. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26-state-cuts/table-26-alabama.xls
7. Montgomery Police Department: http://www.montgomeryal.gov/city-government/departments/police
8. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/Longterm