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How to Become a Police Officer in Alaska

Over 1,000 law enforcement officers protect and serve Alaska’s population of 737,000 people.1,2 The cost of living is high in Alaska, at 36% higher than the national average.3 However, cops are compensated well in the state, earning an average salary of $81,980.1 This starting salary coupled with the number of police officers in the state makes Alaska an ideal location for aspiring cops. Each police department in Alaska has specific standards and requirements. Below, read about statewide requirements for police officers Alaska must meet as well as specific requirements for police interested in positions in highway patrol, sheriff’s offices, and major cities.

Alaska Police Officer Requirements

The Alaska Police Standards Council certifies all law enforcement officers in Alaska, develops and funds law enforcement training, provides polygraph and psychological exams for incoming officers, and decertifies cops when necessary.

Potential police officers who want to uphold public safety in Alaska must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Have no felony convictions or misdemeanors of domestic violence anywhere in the US, another territory, or by a military court
  • Not have used marijuana within one year prior to hire date (unless candidate was under 21 at the time of marijuana use)
  • Not have been denied, decertified, or suspended from a certified law enforcement agency in another state

Required Examinations

Aspiring cops in Alaska must undergo a number of examinations in order to be appointed to a police training academy. These exams are outlined by the Alaska State Legislature.The first exam is typically a background investigation completed during the application process. Prospective cops will also need to pass a state-approved physical fitness test and a medical exam. In addition, applicants must pass a psychological exam administered by a state-licensed psychologist.

Aspiring cops will also complete exams while enrolled in the police training academy for their jurisdiction. The police academy will consist of at least 650 hours of instruction on the law, emergency response skills, police tactics, and physical fitness.

Alaska State Patrol Requirements

The Alaska State Troopers are assigned to five geographic areas that patrol, enforce laws, and act as the first line of search and rescue for the state. The troopers have three main bureaus: the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, the Judicial Services branch, and the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol.

To become an Alaska state trooper, applicants must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Not have been discharged from a certified law enforcement position in any other state, territory, or county
  • Not be in violation of the department’s past drug use policies
  • Not have received more than three fish and wildlife enforcement citations within the past three years
  • Have no felony convictions or domestic violence misdemeanors or misdemeanors that resulted in physical injury or that occured in the past 10 years
  • Not have been convicted of two DUIs in the last ten years

Alaska Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Because Alaska has no counties, the state has no sheriff’s offices. The state troopers handle the duties that sheriff’s deputies would typically handle.4

Police Departments in Alaska

Alaska has 51 police departments, employing over 1,000 cops throughout the state.1,5 While all cops must meet the minimum criteria defined by the Alaska Police Standards Council, requirements for individual police departments may be more stringent.

Anchorage

The Anchorage Police Department (APD) employs 356 sworn officers.6 APD cops can work in patrol, drug enforcement, community affairs, or the K-9 unit. The department also works with the Anchorage Search Team with dedicated officers and command staff who respond to search and rescue needs in the Anchorage area and the state at large. Starting pay for Anchorage cops is $33.61 per hour.7

To join the APD, hopeful cops must:

  • Be a US citizen by the date of hire
  • Be at least 21 years of age by the date of hire
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (associate degree or higher is preferred)
  • Have no misdemeanors within the past five years and no felony or domestic violence convictions, and no criminal convictions past the age of 18
  • Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license
  • Have no marijuana use within the past three years

Juneau

Cops with the Juneau Police Department (JPD) serve and protect the state’s capital city. The JPD employs 50 sworn officers and 32 civilian staff across two divisions, operations and administrative services.6 Starting pay for law enforcement officers in Juneau ranges from $30.75 to $32.95 per hour.8

Candidates wishing to become a part of the JPD must:

  • Be a US citizen or resident alien authorized to work in the US
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license
  • Pass a typing test prior to application
  • Not have used marijuana within the year prior to application
  • Not have any disqualifying criminal convictions

Fairbanks

Police officers working for the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD) are dedicated to keeping Fairbanks citizens safe using a community-oriented policing philosophy. The department has an authorized strength of 45 sworn officers and six civilian support staff, with an annual budget of $6.9 million as of 2019.9 Opportunities within the FPD include patrol, SWAT, investigations, and the K9 unit. Following the first year of service, the pay for police officers in Fairbanks starts at $29.23 per hour depending on qualifications.9

To be considered for hire, prospective Fairbanks police officers must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (college credit related to criminal justice is preferred)
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid Alaska driver’s license
  • Not have a history of criminal convictions or mental or emotional disorders
  • Be drug free

Police Training Academies in Alaska

Basic training for law enforcement in Alaska is developed and monitored by the Alaska Police Standards Council. The course is a 24-week program where recruits receive training on defensive tactics, the use of firearms, and various law enforcement topics such as state law, officer survival training, and investigations, communications and traffic violations. The two basic training academies in Alaska are:

  • Anchorage Police Department Training Center – Anchorage, AK
  • Public Safety Training Academy – Sitka, AK

Alaska Police Jobs Outlook

There are currently 1,070 cops in Alaska earning an average annual salary of $81,980, the third-highest salary for law enforcement officers in the nation.1,10 Projections call for police employment in Alaska to remain stable through 2026, with 80 job openings per year due to replacements.11 Remember that employment is tied to local budgets. With competitive salaries and unique opportunities, Alaska can be a great place for an aspiring cop to begin his or her career.

This information is a good start for those looking to become a police officer, but always remember: “A badge does not make you above the law. You should live by a higher standard. Traffic laws along with other laws are meant for you too.” – Susan Ivy, police detective and author of Bad Luck Detective

To search law enforcement jobs in Alaska, check out our police jobs board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Alaska

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Anchorage550$83,700
Fairbanks90$77,370
Southeast Alaska nonmetropolitan area170$74,720
Balance of Alaska nonmetropolitan areas250$84,770

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.1

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Alaska: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm
2. US Census Bureau, Alaska: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ak/PST045217
3. Sperling’s Best Places, Alaska: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/alaska
4. National Sheriffs’ Association: https://www.sheriffs.org/
5. Alaska Police Standards Council, Member Agencies: https://dps.alaska.gov/apsc/agencies
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. Anchorage Police Department: http://www.muni.org/departments/police/joinapd/Pages/default.aspx
8. Juneau Police Department: https://beta.juneau.org/police
9. Fairbanks Police Department: https://www.fairbanksalaska.us/police
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes333051.htm
11. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm