How to Become a Police Officer in Michigan

Working as a cop or a sheriff in Michigan is a rewarding career. In addition to the state police and sheriff’s departments, there are many local police departments always looking to hire the best people for patrol jobs. According to the most recent statistics, there are 15,050 patrol officers and deputies working in the state.1

To become a Michigan police officer or deputy, there are minimal requirements set by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). Different departments within the state may set additional standards or create their own pathway for anyone wishing to become an officer.

Michigan Police Officer Requirements

Future cops and sheriff’s deputies in Michigan must meet the MCOLES minimum standards and requirements before being offered a job by any type of law enforcement department. These are just the minimum, though, which means that individual departments may set additional standards for their recruits. Basic requirements include being able to pass certain physical and written exams as well as drug tests and oral interviews.

These are the minimum guidelines for Michigan officers as set by MCOLES:

Nationality, Age, and Education

The most basic requirements for officer recruits in Michigan include being a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age. There is no maximum age restriction. A recruit must also have a high school diploma or its equivalency. A college degree is considered to be evidence of the meeting high school requirement.

Required Examinations

The path to becoming a cop in Michigan requires several health and written examinations and the completion of a training course, as well as an in-person interview. For physical and mental health, the following are required:

  • A physical health examination to determine there are no diseases or disorders that would affect an individual’s performance as a law enforcement officer, including screening for hearing and vision
  • A mental health evaluation conducted by a licensed physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist
  • A physical fitness examination before admission to a police training program

Future law enforcement officers and deputies must also participate in a training program and pass the appropriate written and oral examinations:

  • Completion of an MCOLES-approved police basic training academy
  • A basic reading and writing examination
  • A MCOLES licensing examination after basic training
  • An in-person interview to assess appropriateness for law enforcement, communication skills, and appearance

Background Clearance

Recruits for law enforcement in Michigan must meet certain background clearance requirements, including proof of good moral character. The requirements include:

  • A state or federal fingerprinting and criminal check
  • Drug testing
  • A check of moral character to include law violations, expunged convictions, personal protection orders, employment and school records, and personal character traits

Michigan Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Michigan State Police (MSP) patrol the state highways, but also investigate crimes across jurisdictions, apprehend criminals, and perform community outreach services. The detectives and investigators of the state police work in specialized areas such as fraud, cold case homicides, computer crimes, gaming, fire, and traffic crash reconstruction. Candidates for becoming a Michigan State Trooper must:

  • Be at least 18 years old at the time that the entry level exam is passed, and 21 years old by recruit school graduation
  • Be a US citizen
  • Be a Michigan resident upon graduation from recruit school
  • Have a Michigan driver’s license and a good driving record
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Be free of felony convictions
  • Meet MCOLES standards for vision and hearing
  • Show fiscal responsibility and good moral character

Michigan Sheriff Deputy Requirements

The requirements and training to become a sheriff’s deputy in Michigan are overseen by the Michigan Sheriffs’ Coordinating and Training Council. It is a part of the state’s Department of Corrections and sets minimum standards for becoming a sheriff’s deputy, along with those already set by MCOLES. Each county’s sheriff’s office may set additional requirements and recruits must also pass the National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory 2 exam.

Police Departments in Michigan

In addition to the Michigan State Police and the county sheriffs’ offices, candidates for law enforcement who meet the MCOLES requirements may consider working for one of the state’s many local police departments. Two of the largest forces in the state are the Detroit Police Department and the Grand Rapids Police Department. In addition to the minimum requirements for being any kind of law enforcement officer in the state, those wishing to apply to a particular city’s force must also meet the standards of that department.


As the largest city in the state, Detroit also has the largest police force. The Detroit Police Department had 2,250 sworn police officers protecting the city in a 2008 census by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.2 Officers in the Detroit Police Department earn a starting salary of between $31,701 and $51,748.3

Requirements to become an officer in Detroit include meeting the MCOLES minimum standards such as being 18 years old, having a high school diploma or equivalency, having no felony convictions, and passing the health, fitness and written exams. Recruits must also go through an orientation process and a background interview. They must also be assessed by the board and fingerprinted. Once an acceptance letter is offered, the recruit must complete and pass the police academy.

To read more about the Detroit Police Department, check out our How to Become a Police Officer in Detroit comprehensive guide.

Grand Rapids

With a population of 192,294, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan and has a sizable police force in the Grand Rapids Police Department.4 The department invites anyone to apply who has completed a police academy approved by MCOLES, met the statewide minimum requirements, and has passed the examination.

Once a recruit has completed the above and has been given a conditional offer of employment, an eight-week orientation and 17-week field training are required to become an officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department. Those completing training remain on probation for one year and earn a starting salary of $40,232.5

Police Training Academies in Michigan

One of the basic requirements set by MCOLES for all law enforcement officers in the state is to complete a police training academy program. These programs are designed to be intensive and to offer new recruits training in all the important and essential areas of police work. This includes firearms training, traffic codes, criminal law, ethics, and physical fitness. Some academies offer two-year associate degrees in criminal justice and other subjects as well as training for police work. The list of MCOLES-approved police academies includes 21 institutions such as:

  • Lake Superior State University – Sault Ste. Marie, MI
  • Washtenaw Community College – Ann Arbor, MI
  • Oakland Police Academy – Auburn Hills, MI
  • Grand Rapids Community College – Grand Rapids, MI
  • Detroit Metropolitan Police Academy – Detroit, MI
  • Kalamazoo Law Enforcement Training Center – Kalamazoo, MI

For a complete list of the approved academies see the MCOLES website.

Michigan Police Jobs Outlook

For anyone looking for an exciting career in Michigan, the job growth in the state is looking optimistic. The unemployment rate has been dropping over the last year and is now close to the national average. Growth projections for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Michigan indicate that there will be an average of 540 new positions every year through 2022, representing a growth of one percent.6 Cops in Michigan can expect average salaries of around $56,450, which is around the average for police officers across the country.1 But with a cost of living at 11.2% lower than the rest of the country, those entering the law enforcement field in Michigan can expect a decent living.7

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Michigan

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Grand Rapids-Wyoming950$58,930

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.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. City of Detroit, Detroit Police Officer: https://detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/Police/Jobs/DPDRecruit%20Pay%20Flier%20Rev10302014.pdf
4. US Census Bureau, Michigan: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/mi/PST045217
5. City of Grand Rapids, Police Department Recruiting: https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Jobs
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
7. Sperling’s Best Places, Michigan: https://www.bestplaces.net/state/michigan