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 with a low cost of living and natural beauty. Alabama is home to over 4.8 million residents and has nine major cities.1 With a low cost of living, law enforcement professionals can live comfortably in Alabama where housing costs are 26% lower than the average US state.2 Health care costs are 12% lower than the national average.2
According to the latest available data, Alabama employs 10,780 sworn police officers.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.
Police Officer Requirements
Candidates seeking to become cops in Alabama 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. There should be no cases where you pled not guilty or no-contest to any felonies in the state of Alabama. Any misdemeanors for domestic violence may make you a less desirable candidate for law enforcement
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the US military
Candidates hoping to become an Alabama law enforcement officer must be in good physical and mental health. A signed medical release form from a licensed physician that states physical condition must be submitted by each applicant.
In addition to your medical release form, 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 a window, and a timed 1.5-mile run.
Three exams and one skills test are required to become an Alabama police officer. 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. Candidates must pass a legal issues exam and first aid exam, scoring 70% or more on both. He or she must pass 43 hours of firearms training and must qualify two out of three attempts that includes shooting a handgun, shotgun and to be familiar with a patrol rifle.
Alabama State Trooper Requirements
The state of Alabama has 19 highway patrol offices. The Alabama Highway Patrol Headquarters is located in Montgomery and led by Chief Tim Pullin and Captain 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 state 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
In order to be selected, candidates must:
- Pass the Alabama physical agility test described above
- Pass a vision screening
- Complete a personal interview
- Be willing to undergo a full background check that will include testing for illegal drugs and a polygraph test
- Pass a medical evaluation
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
-Steve Casey, Executive Director of the Florida Sheriff’s Association
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 possess a high school diploma or GED, have no felony convictions, possess a valid driver’s license, and have not been dishonorably discharged from the military.
The Birmingham Police Department 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 that officers can be a part of. 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 the second largest police force in the state. Boasting 524 sworn police officers and 200 civilian employees, the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) serves 200,000 residents and 150,000 visitors.6 In 2014, the Central Alabama Violent Gang and Safe Streets Task Force was created to reduce crime related to drug sales and trafficking, assaults and robberies. 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 (POSTC) certified officers and military and federal police.
Under the leadership of Chief James Barber, the Mobile Police Department (MPD) is actively recruiting police officers for academy classes that will take place in 2015 and 2016. Candidates must possess a high school diploma or GED, but are paid on a sliding scale based on highest level of education completed. A candidate with a master’s degree can make over $4,000 more in base pay than a candidate with a high school diploma.
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 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.
Alabama Police Jobs Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 10,890 people serving as law enforcement in Alabama, earning an average of $41,910.3 It is projected that by 2022, that workforce will grow by 6.7% to 11,620 police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers.7 On average, there are 420 law enforcement job openings per year in the state.7 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 2014.
1. US Census Bureau, Alabama: http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/01
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Alabama: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/alabama
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 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. Montgomery Police Department: http://www.montgomeryal.gov/city-government/city-departments/police
7. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/Longterm