How to Become a Police Officer in Minnesota

Minnesota offers history at its finest with traditions collected from its ethnically diverse culture. From prairies filled with buffalo, marshes, and ribbons of lakes, Minnesota is a great place to be a police officer. There are over 9,000 police officers employed at this time taking care of 5.5 million people.1 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March 2015 the unemployment rate for Minnesota was 3.7%, one of the lowest in the United States.2

Minnesota Police Officer Requirements

The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) sets the standards for cops in the state. Minnesota police officers must be 21 years of age and have completed the necessary requirements to be considered for a place on Minnesota’s police force. Minnesota is one of two US states to require at least an associate degree for all law enforcement officers. Candidates can meet the requirements in three ways, according to the POST website:

  1. Obtain a 2- or 4-year degree at an approved criminal justice or law enforcement degree program, followed by passing the POST Licensing Exam
  2. Possess a 2- or 4-year degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university, then complete Law Enforcement certificate courses through a Professional Peace Officer Education (PPOE) program, followed by passing the POST licensing exam
  3. Meet requirements for reciprocity or military reciprocity, then pass the POST reciprocity licensing exam

Candidates who are successful with the academic requirements will finish a maximum of 16 weeks of training at the Minneapolis Police Academy. Before candidates are accepted for training they will be required to pass a medical exam, a physical agility exam, a psychological evaluation, and a drug screening. Recruits who complete the police academy successfully will participate in five months of field training. These recruits then become police officers and are hired for a patrol assignment.

Police officer candidates in Minnesota must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a US citizen
  • Must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license (Class D), or equivalent out-of-state license with no suspensions or revocations on your record within the last two years, prior to appointment (parking-related offenses may be excluded)
  • Have no criminal, felony or assault convictions on their record
  • Be in good physical condition
  • Successfully complete a background investigation, psychological examination and a medical examination
  • Be POST-licensed or eligible to be licensed as a peace officer in the state of Minnesota, by the date of conditional offer for employment

Required Examinations

  • 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

Background Clearance

Background checks for police officers need to be rigorous. They will investigate the applicant’s reliability, integrity, punctuality, attendance, discipline, etc. An investigator will often visit former employers, talk with the employer and look through the personnel file. The investigator may also speak with ministers, schoolteachers and professors, family members and friends. 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.

Medical and Psychological Requirements

  • Physical fitness test
  • Psychological exam
  • Physical exam
  • Polygraph exam

Minnesota Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

Since 1929 the Minnesota State Patrol has protected Minnesota roads and motorists. Around 600 state troopers work to ensure the safe and efficient movement of traffic on Minnesota’s roads. They also spend their time educating citizens, investigating crashes, conducting rescue missions, and working closely with other law enforcement agencies. Applicants must have a two- or four-year degree in any course of study. Applicants must pass the physical fitness exam and the POST exam. Full-time Minnesota troopers enjoy excellent health and dental benefits, along with generous vacation pay. The current Chief of the State Patrol is Colonel Matt Langer.

Minnesota Sheriff Deputy Requirements

A sheriff deputy’s job is much the same as a police officer in Minnesota. Sheriff’s deputies patrol and provide security for the county where police officers do the same for cities. Sheriffs are elected by the community and are not required to have a law enforcement degree. Aspiring sheriff’s deputies should:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have no convictions of felony or domestic violence
  • Be willing to work irregular hours
  • Have a firearms license
  • Have two or more years of POST-certified law enforcement higher education or have sufficient military experience to substitute

Ramsey County

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department includes 400 full-time, part-time, temporary employees, and active volunteers. These officers serve over 500,000 residents providing law enforcement and public safety. Requirements include:

  • Familiarity with Ramsey County
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Ability to lift and carry 100 pounds
  • Ability to operate a computer
  • Being a US citizen
  • Either two years of a Minnesota POST-certified secondary education program or a military service/law enforcement experience
  • No felony or domestic violence convictions

Dakota County

The Dakota County’s Sheriff’s Department employs 30 officers who participate in several specialty units including Dive Team, MAAG Team, and Crisis Incident Team. They serve and protect a 587-square-mile rural area with over 400,000 residents. Recruits must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Possess a two-year degree from a Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST)-certified college or university, or an equivalent military or law enforcement experience*
  • Have no domestic violence or felony convictions
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Possess the ability to work in stressful situations and lift over 100 pounds

*Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice are preferred.

Police Departments in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota employed 9,060 police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the year 2014.1 Each department in the state has its own requirements for the employment of cops. Some of the larger police departments across the state are listed below:

Saint Paul

St. Paul is the largest city in Minnesota and known as the most livable city in America. The St. Paul Police Department is regarded as an authority in Minnesota law enforcement. Thomas E. Smith is currently the Chief of Police and resides over 635 officers. To become a part of this team, recruits must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a US citizen
  • Have a valid Minnesota driver’s license
  • Have no gross misdemeanors or equivalent on their record
  • Have no felonies
  • Have no physical or domestic assault convictions or of eluding the police
  • Be in good general physical condition
  • Successfully complete a background investigation, medical exam, and psychological examination
  • Be Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-licensed or eligible
  • Either possess a college degree or certificate in Law Enforcment


Minneapolis has a police department with 840 officers and 300 civilian employees. 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. JaneƩ Harteau is the current Police Chief presiding over five precincts that are each commanded by their own inspectors. To become part of this team, recruits must:

  • Have and maintain a valid driver’s license
  • Successfully complete all Minnesota POST board requirements
  • Be a US citizen
  • Not have a felony conviction
  • Possess standard hearing and vision
  • Be medically and psychologically fit
  • Be able to carry firearms
  • Meet and maintain physical fitness standards

For more details regarding the Minneapolis Police Department, visit our How to Become a Police Officer in Minneapolis page.

Police Training Academies in Minnesota

All city police officers and sheriff deputies in Minnesota are required to take the POST Regular Basic Course (training academy) as the minimum entry-level training requirement. The POST basic training includes an intense curriculum designed to provide recruits with hands-on training, including weapons training, role-play, patrol procedures, arrest, and control techniques. All candidates must pass a variety of written, scenario and physical examinations. Academies 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 relatively positive. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for police and patrol officers was $58,720 in May 2014.1 The state’s growth for law enforcement is projected to grow by 2.5%, represented by approximately 320 annual job openings, between 2012 to 2022.3 Replacement hirings are expected to rise significantly due to the large number of baby boomer police veterans who will be retiring over the next five to ten 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 page.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Minnesota

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Minneapolis-Saint Paul5540$64,120
St. Cloud300$53,560

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Minnesota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mn.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate for States: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
3. Projections Central: http://www.profectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm