How to Become a Police Officer in Arizona
The Grand Canyon State is an excellent place to become a police officer, with high salaries and warm weather. Over 11,400 police officers were employed in Arizona in 2017.1 Police officers in Arizona work hard to protect the 7.1 million residents of the state, fight crime, and maintain order in the state’s communities. On this page, you can read about the minimum requirements for aspiring police officers in Arizona and find information about major police departments in the state.
Arizona Police Officer Requirements
The Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board sets the minimum requirements for Arizona cops. While these minimum requirements apply to all potential police officers in the state, individual police departments can set additional requirements. For example, a police department may require recruits to hold an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Even in departments that require only a high school diploma or GED, candidates with a degree are usually preferred.
In order to become a sworn officer, Arizona police officer candidates must:
- Have US citizenship
- Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Be 21 years of age upon graduation from the academy
- Possess valid Arizona driver’s license
- Have no felony convictions
- Have been honorably discharged, if a military veteran
- Not have been denied or revoked from certified status in any other law enforcement agency
- Meet guidelines for past use and sale of illegal substances
In addition to the qualifications above, applicants must successfully complete several examinations in order to become a police officer in Arizona. These include passing a written exam consisting of 100 multiple choice questions, passing a physical exam consisting of sit-ups, push-ups, a 1.5-mile run, a 300-meter run, and an agility run, and completing an oral interview covering interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Officer candidates will also need to complete a polygraph exam, background investigation, psychological evaluation, and a medical exam that will include a drug test.
Arizona Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Arizona Highway Patrol Division was established in 1931. The HPD is comprised of four Patrol Bureaus, a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau, and an Aviation Section. There is also a dedicated DUI squad. As of 2016, the HPD employed 575 troopers and 121 command staff.3 The starting salary for HPD troopers is $40,275 per year.3
In order to become a part of the Arizona Highway Patrol, officers must meet the above-listed state guidelines for police officers. It is strongly recommended that prospective troopers request and complete a Ride Along with a trooper before applying, which serves as an informational interview and introduction to the field.
Arizona Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Arizona has 15 counties, each of which has a sheriff’s office. The largest sheriff’s office in Arizona is the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO), which employs approximately 3,300 officers and civilians.4 A sheriff’s deputy’s minimum job requirements will vary by county, but they are similar to those for Arizona police officers.
The largest sheriff’s office in Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) operates in the fourth-largest county by population in the US. The current sheriff of Maricopa County is Paul Penzone, who was elected to his first term in 2016. In this post, he manages the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), the county jail, courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process.
The county is divided into six districts and includes four specialized units: Lake Patrol, Trails Division, Aviation Division, and a K9 Unit. Requirements to be a deputy sheriff for the MCSO are similar to those for police officers in the state; candidates must:
- Be 21 years of age at the time of testing
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Have no felony convictions
- Have no misdemeanor convictions within the last three years
- Be able to pass a drug test
- Have no dishonorable discharges from the armed service
- Have no driver’s license suspensions within the last 12 months
Police Departments in Arizona
In 2017, an estimated 11,480 police and sheriff’s patrol officers were employed in Arizona.1 While cops must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board, each police department may have its own set of additional requirements for prospective officers.
Serving a population of 1.6 million people (the fifth-largest in the US), the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) is staffed with nearly 3,000 officers and 1,000 support personnel.5 The PPD is organized into six divisions and 23 bureaus, with specialty units typical for major metros including SWAT, Vice, K9, and Mounted Patrol. The current Chief of Police is Jeri L. Williams.
Requirements to become a police officer for the PPD are similar to those for the state of Arizona; candidates must:
- Hold US citizenship
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have adequate vision and physical fitness
- Have no history of criminal or improper conduct
- Pass a qualifying written exam
- Pass a rigorous physical examination, as well as a polygraph test and a variety of other screenings
Police officer pay in Phoenix starts at $24.75 per hour.5 More information on working for the Phoenix Police Department, check out our Phoenix city police page.
The Mesa Police Department (MPD) serves the third-largest city in Arizona, with nearly 500,000 residents.6 Mesa cops start at an annual salary of $56,534 but can make up to $79,789 per year, with benefits including tuition reimbursement.6 To become part of the law enforcement team at the MPD, recruits must:
- Be at least 21 years old and a US citizen
- Possess a high school diploma or GED (a college education is preferred)
- Have a valid Arizona driver’s license
- Complete a background investigation and pass medical and drug tests
For more information on the MPD, see our Mesa police work page.
Additional Police Departments in Arizona
Police Training Academies in Arizona
Candidates who have been conditionally hired as a police recruit must attend and complete training at one of Arizona’s 13 POST basic training academies.
Arizona POST training academies include:
- Arizona Correctional Officer Training Academy – Phoenix, AZ
- Arizona Western Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy – Yuma, AZ
- Chandler-Gilbert Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy – Chandler, AZ
- Glendale Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy – Glendale, AZ
- Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy – Phoenix, AZ
- Mesa Police Department Training Academy – Mesa, AZ
- Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy – Taylor, AZ
- Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy – Prescott, AZ
- Phoenix Regional Police Academy – Phoenix, AZ
- Pima County Sheriff’s Department – Tucson, AZ
- Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center – Tucson, AZ
- Western Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center – Lake Havasu City, AZ
Learn more about Arizona Police Training Academies through the the Arizona POST Board.
Arizona Police Jobs Outlook
The metropolitan area of Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale has the ninth-highest concentration of employment for police officers out of all metro areas in the US.1 The outlook for law enforcement careers in Arizona is strong. A 6.9% increase in police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the state is predicted through 2026.7 This equates to 630 average annual openings including new positions as well as replacements, a promising landscape for aspiring cops.7
For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Arizona
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.8
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
2. US Census Bureau, Arizona: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/AZ/PST045219
3. Arizona Highway Patrol Division: https://www.azdps.gov/organization/HPD
4. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.mcso.org/Employment
5. Phoenix Police Department: https://www.phoenix.gov/police/
6. Mesa Police Department: https://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/police
7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Arizona: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htm