How to Become a Police Officer in Minnesota

With diverse cities from rural communities to the major metropolis of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota is a great place to be a police officer. There are approximately 8,680 police officers employed in the state, serving a population of almost 5.5 million people.1,2 The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) sets the standards for cops in the state. On this page, you will find information about Minnesota’s police requirements, police salaries, jobs outlook, and more.

Minnesota Police Officer Requirements

The Minnesota POST sets minimum standards for the certification of law enforcement officers in the state. All law enforcement agencies must follow these minimum standards, but can set additional requirements beyond the minimum. At the state level, prospective Minnesota cops must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a valid driver’s license in their state of residence
  • Have an associate’s degree or higher or have acceptable military experience in lieu of college
  • Not have any record of felony convictions of any kind, nor have had any disqualifying misdemeanors
  • Pass a written exam, background investigation, physical exam, fitness exam, and psychological exam

Note that background checks for police officers need to be rigorous. An investigator will often visit former employers, talk with the employers, and look through the personnel file. The investigator may also speak with ministers, schoolteachers and professors, family members and friends, and others with knowledge of the applicant. Credit reports may be accessed to use as evidence of integrity, as someone with a poor credit score may be someone who could be enticed by bribery. Often this information is also used for the polygraph exam.

Required Examinations

Police officer candidates in Minnesota will need to pass a number of exams in order to become certified law enforcement officers. The exam content may vary from agency to agency, but in all cases will meet the state-level minimums set by the POST. These exams include:

  • A qualifying written exam
  • Physical fitness test
  • Psychological exam
  • A medical exam
  • POST Licensing Exam: given to students upon the completion of the Professional Peace Officer Education (PPOE)
  • Reciprocity Licensing Exam: given to those who have worked in law enforcement in another state within the last six years
  • Military Reciprocity Licensing Exam: given to those who have experience in a military law enforcement capacity
  • Reinstatement of License Eligibility Exam: for those who need to renew their eligibility

Candidates who are successful will attend approximately 16 weeks of training at a POST-approved police academy in Minnesota. Recruits who complete the police academy successfully will typically participate in field training with a senior officer. These recruits then become sworn police officers and are given their first assignment, typically in patrol.

Minnesota Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) employs approximately 600 state troopers who work to ensure the safe and efficient movement of traffic on Minnesota’s roads, investigate crimes that are within the state’s jurisdiction or cross local jurisdictions, and provide other law enforcement services.3 Troopers also spend their time educating citizens, investigating crashes, conducting rescue missions, and working closely with other law enforcement agencies. Applicants must meet POST standards, which include having a two- or four-year degree in any course of study. The MSP also uses an initial online personality assessment as a first screening test. The starting salary for MSP officers is $54,789 per year.3

Minnesota Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Sheriff’s deputies patrol county roads and provide security for the county, similarly to police officers patrolling cities. Sheriff’s deputies are also responsible for county-level corrections, including prisoner transport and security. Aspiring sheriff’s deputies in Minnesota must meet state POST standards for law enforcement officers. It is not uncommon for counties to require additional qualifications, such as prior POST certification and law enforcement experience.

Ramsey County

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) has approximately 400 employees and active volunteers serving an area with over 500,000 residents.4 Sheriff’s deputies with the RCSO earn a starting salary of $55,890 per year and can earn up to $81,764 per year.4 The RCSO seeks deputies who meet the state’s requirements and have familiarity with Ramsey County and its communities.

Hennepin County

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) oversees the largest county in Minnesota, Hennepin County, which has over 1.2 million residents and includes the city of Minneapolis.5 To carry out its mission, the HCSO employs over 800 people.5 As part of a major metropolis, the office has specialty units and assignments including initiatives involving undercover narcotics operations and homeland security in partnership with other agencies. The starting salary for sheriff’s deputies is $54,435 per year, which can be increased to up to $76,005 per year.5 In addition to meeting state minimums, prospective HCSO deputies must have a GPA of 2.0 or better in their college coursework and be willing to work any shifts including holidays, weekends, and nights.

Police Departments in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota was home to nearly 9,000 police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the year 2018.1 Each department in the state can have its own requirements for the employment of cops, though all departments will follow the Minnesota POST minimum standards. Some of the larger police departments across the state are listed below:

Saint Paul

St. Paul is the second-largest city in Minnesota and is known as a highly livable city with many amenities; the city has adopted “The Most Livable City in America” as its motto. The St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) employs over 600 sworn officers and responds to over 200,000 calls for service per year.6 The SPPD offers officers a starting salary of $62,212 per year with opportunities for pay increases, promotions, and special assignments.6 Officer candidates must meet Minnesota POST standards and be able to work any shift assignments.


The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) employs approximately 840 officers and 300 civilian employees.7 This city boasts of being the most bike-friendly city in the US. It also shares the distinction of best parks in the nation with St Paul. To become part of the Minneapolis PD, recruits must meet all Minnesota POST board requirements and possess acceptable hearing and vision. The MPD offers a starting salary of $62,878 per year.7

Check out our Minneapolis page for more information on the city police department’s requirements.

Police Training Academies in Minnesota

All law enforcement officers in Minnesota are required to take the POST Regular Basic Course (training academy) as the minimum entry-level training requirement. POST basic training includes an intense curriculum designed to provide recruits with hands-on training, including weapons training, patrol procedures, arrest, and control techniques. All candidates must pass a variety of written, scenario, and physical examinations. Police academies in Minnesota include:

  • Alexandria Technical & Community College Police Academy – Alexandria, MN
  • Minneapolis Community & Technical College Police Academy – Minneapolis, MN
  • Minnesota State Community & Technical College – Moorhead, MN
  • Minnesota West Community & Technical College – Worthington, MN
  • Rochester Community & Technical College – Rochester, MN

For a full list of POST-approved academies, visit the Minnesota POST website.

Minnesota Police Jobs Outlook

For anyone considering applying for a Minnesota law enforcement position, the future looks positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for police and patrol officers in Minnesota was $64,700 in March 2018.1 Growth for law enforcement positions in Minnesota is projected at 7.6% through 2026, with an expected 720 average annual openings including replacements.8 Replacement hires are expected to rise significantly due to a large number of baby boomer police veterans who will be retiring over the coming years. Additionally, employment and recruitment cycles tend to coincide with allocated state budgets.

For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Minnesota

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Minneapolis-Saint Paul5,220$69,210
St. Cloud320$63,310

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.1

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Minnesota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mn.htm
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Minnesota: https://www.bestplaces.net/state/minnesota
3. Minnesota State Patrol: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/msp/Pages/default.aspx
4. Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.ramseycounty.us/your-government/leadership/sheriffs-office
5. Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.hennepinsheriff.org/
6. St. Paul Police Department: https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/police
7. Minneapolis Police Department: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/
8. Projections Central: http://www.profectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm