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How to Become a Police Officer in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a wise choice for anyone looking to work in law enforcement. Like most states, Massachusetts sets high standards in terms of police recruitment and the process of becoming a Massachusetts cop can be quite challenging, but the end result is certainly rewarding. The state training and certification process is regulated and overseen by the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the requirements are listed below.

Massachusetts Police Officer Requirements

The Massachusetts State Police Department (MSP) is the principal law enforcement agency that oversees the state’s police divisions as well as the highway patrol. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are currently 16,700 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the state.1 In order to become a Massachusetts cop, there are a number of requirements aspiring candidates must meet before attending an accredited Massachusetts police academy. Although the MSP requirements listed on this page are followed throughout the state, it’s quite common for local departments to have additional standards that may include a college degree in criminal justice or something similar.

Massachusetts State Police Requirements

All candidates applying to become Massachusetts police officers must meet a number of basic requirements. The prerequisites listed below are the state-mandated MDP standards for new recruit eligibility. However, as stated above, individual police departments may have additional requirements. In general, candidates must:

  • Be a US citizen (or naturalized before time of appointment)
  • Be between 21 and 35 years of age at the time of hire
  • Be non-smokers
  • Pass a physical fitness test, medical examination including a psychological component
  • Have no felony convictions (some misdemeanors are also grounds for disqualification)
  • Be official residents in the state and hold a valid drivers license

Educational Requirements

For educational requirements, Massachusetts police recruits must hold, at minimum, a US high school diploma or GED equivalent. However, anyone with a college degree, such as an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, will be favorably considered. Additionally, for candidates who enter the force with a high school diploma and would like to continue their education, the state offers a unique program. The Police Career Incentive Pay Program (PCIPP) offers federal funds for police officers who want to earn a college degree. Alternatively, the same program offers funds to current college students who’d like to pursue a career as a Massachusetts police officer.

“A career in policing is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I looked at it as more of a calling to serve the citizens of the community. There are many sacrifices you have to be prepared to make. There are no weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc. You will be working all hours of the night and day.” -Joseph L. Giacalone, retired NYPD Detective and author of The Criminal Investigative Function

Massachusetts Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The MSP is responsible for not only law enforcement in terms of police patrol and legal issues, but also includes the state trooper division. The Massachusetts State Patrol is primarily responsible for patrolling and safeguarding the state’s highway system, among many other duties.

To become a Massachusetts state trooper, candidates must complete an intense training program at the State Police Academy located in New Braintree, Massachusetts. The process is designed to develop the proper skills needed to perform well under stressful circumstances often seen on the job. The state trooper curriculum includes a variety of themes from criminal law and motor vehicle law to court procedures and community policing. Once the new recruits have graduated from the academy, they are required to work for twelve weeks under the supervision of senior officer.

Massachusetts Sheriff Deputy Requirements

The state of Massachusetts currently counts on 14 elected Sheriffs around the state to carry out three main responsibilities:

  1. Transport and hold inmates at county houses of corrections
  2. Execution of court orders and delivering legal documents
  3. Support and assist local and state police, fire departments, and others in law enforcement and public safety

The largest sheriff’s department in Massachusetts is Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, located in Boston. The current Sheriff is Steven W. Tompkins, who is responsible for a department of 2,622 sworn personnel.2 The requirements to becoming a Suffolk sheriff deputy are similar to the requirements listed for all Massachusetts police recruits. To be eligible for hire, all candidates must be at least 21 years old, a US citizen and pass the required examinations.

Police Departments in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police Department has one of the nation’s most recognized police forces: The Boston PD. The highly-regarded Boston Police Force depends on over 11,500 police and sheriff patrol officers to cover the Boston area as well as neighboring Cambridge and Quincy.

Boston

To become a police officer at the Boston Police Department, candidates must be a US citizen and at least 21 years old. Candidates must be a registered resident of the city and be eligible for a firearms license in the state. All potential Boston PD recruits are required to submit to an extensive background check and submit a hair sample for drug testing.

For educational requirements, Boston police officers are required to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. However, like most cities, the Boston PD highly values college degrees and will often prioritize those candidates who hold a degree in criminal justice or something similar.

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

Springfield

While Boston may be the largest force in the state, smaller cities like Springfield also have a highly-respected police force in the Springfield Police Department. Springfield is a city of 153,552 citizens that depends on a capable force of 1,740 police and sheriff’s patrol officers to serve and protect the community.3 The current police commissioner is Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet, a 35-year veteran of the SPD.

In order to join the Springfield Cadet Training program, candidates must be US citizens between 18 and 23 years of age at the time of appointment. They must be registered residents of Springfield and hold a valid Massachusetts driver’s license. For educational requirements, all candidates must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate, at minimum. However, once appointed as Police Cadet, candidates must enroll in an accredited institute and complete a two-year course of study in Criminal Justice.

Police Training Academies in Massachusetts

The Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) sets the requirements for Massachusetts police training. There are five MPTC Training Academies throughout the state: Boylston, Plymouth, Randolph, Reading and Western Mass (STCC). There are also two training satellite locations in Waltham PF and Foxboro.

The MPTC program is a comprehensive 800-hour curriculum over a 20-week training period with hands-on training and classroom instruction. In Massachusetts, anyone may apply for the police training academies. However, candidates who have already been hired as a police recruit officer will not have to pay the $2,500 fees required of voluntary students.

There are five regional academies that offer the intense Basic Training program designed by the MPTC:

  • Boylston Police Academy – Boylston, MA
  • Plymouth Police Academy – Plymouth, MA
  • Randolph Police Academy – Randolph, MA
  • Reading Police Academy – Reading, MA
  • Western Mass Police Academy – Springfield, MA

Consult the organization’s website, for more information on the MPTC training facilities.

Massachusetts Police Jobs Outlook

The ten-year outlook for law enforcement employment in Massachusetts reflects an estimated positive growth pattern. According to Projections Central, the 16,550 police and sheriff’s patrol jobs in the state reported in 2012 is expected to increase by 6.5% to 17,630 by the year 2022.4 This is even better than the national average growth over those same 10 years of 5.9%.4 With high average salaries of around $59,680 reported in 2014, Massachusetts is a decent place to become a cop.1

During the next ten years, a large number of baby boomer-era veteran police officers will be retiring from service. As with any sector, job openings and police recruitment cycles are often based on annual state and city budgets.

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Massachusetts

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Barnstable Town540$55,620
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy11,520$58,480
Springfield1,610$50,310

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, Massachusetts: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2012/may/oes_ma.htm
2. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Springfield, MA-CT: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_78100.htm
4. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm