How to Become a Police Officer in Missouri
Missouri is the “Show Me State” and residents here are proud of their midwestern heritage. With rural farmland, thriving suburbs, and the cultural metropolises of Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri has a variety of law enforcement agencies that can be attractive options for a career in law enforcement. There are an estimated 12,950 cops and sheriff’s deputies currently employed in Missouri.1
The Missouri Department of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) is responsible for setting the minimum requirements for working in law enforcement in the state. Continue reading to learn more about these requirements and additional requirements held by many of the state’s major law enforcement agencies.
Missouri Police Officer Requirements
In order to work in law enforcement in the state of Missouri, whether that means working for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, as a county sheriff’s deputy, or as a cop for a city police department, a recruit must meet the minimum peace officer licensing standards as set by the Missouri POST. New recruits must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a citizen of the US
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Graduate from an authorized state basic law enforcement training academy
- Pass the Missouri Peace Officer License Exam
- Not have a criminal history
Missouri Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) hires troopers to enforce traffic laws and promote safety on the state’s highways. They also investigate crashes, deal with roadway emergencies, assist local police departments, and investigate crimes. After going through a rigorous hiring process, those offered employment must go through a 25-week session at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement Academy. New recruits hoping to become troopers must:
- Meet the minimum standards set by POST
- Have completed 30 college credit hours, served two years in the military, or worked as a POST-licensed peace officer
- Not have tattoos that would be visible in uniform
- Be able to work weekends, nights, and holidays
- Be willing to accept an assignment anywhere in the state
Missouri Sheriff Deputy Requirements
Each Missouri county sets its own hiring process for sheriff’s deputies. The minimum requirements for working as a deputy are those set by POST, but each sheriff’s office can include further requirements, testing, and hiring procedures.
Jackson County is home to the state’s largest city, Kansas City, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) offers many opportunities for young recruits hoping to work in law enforcement. Patrol deputies have the chance to work with the K-9 Unit, the Motorcycle Unit, the ATV Unit, or the Emergency Response Tactical Team. When hiring, the office gives priority to individuals who are already POST-certified for working in a “Class 1” county (that is, a county that has been identified by the state’s legislature as meeting certain benchmarks for assessed property values).
The capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, is also the county seat of Cole County, where the Cole County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) sets strict standards for recruiting deputies. In addition to meeting POST basic standards, CCSO recruits must:
- Be a POST-licensed peace officer at the time of application
- Not have visible tattoos
- Be able to type at least 25 words per minute
- Have a clean driving record
Police Departments in Missouri
From small, rural departments to big cities, Missouri has plenty of opportunities for new cops. To become an officer in any of the state’s local departments, a recruit must meet the state’s POST standards. Once this has been achieved, an individual must then meet the requirements of the local department, be offered employment, and complete the police training academy.
Kansas City is Missouri’s largest city and sits on the border with Kansas, into which the greater Kansas City metropolitan area extends. Recruits to the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) must meet POST standards and pass a written exam and a physical abilities test. The recruits must then:
- Undergo a background check
- Pass a polygraph test
- Go on an officer ride-along
- Pass an oral interview
- Pass a physical and psychological examination
Once a candidate has successfully completed each stage of the hiring process, he or she is placed in a pool of eligible candidates. Only when the recruit has been offered employment from this pool will he or she then attend and complete a training academy program.
To learn more, see our in-depth guide on becoming a police officer in Kansas City.
St. Louis might not be the state’s largest city, but together with its suburbs it is the largest metropolitan area in the state and has a large police force. It has also been recognized as one of the best cities in the US to work as a police officer.3 The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) requires that new recruits:
- Complete 30 college credit hours within 24 months of being hired
- Become a resident of St. Louis within 120 days of being hired
- Have no felony convictions
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Pass a physical examination and meet fitness requirements
Police Training Academies in Missouri
Once a recruit has been hired, completion of a POST-approved police academy program is the next step. Some departments have their own training academies for recruits. For example, the Highway Patrol sends its recruits to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement Academy. Other academies in Missouri include:
- Kansas City Regional Police Academy – Kansas City, MO
- St. Louis Police Academy – St. Louis, MO
- Springfield Police Regional Training Center – Springfield, MO
- Law Enforcement Training Institute University of Missouri – Columbia, MO
- Missouri Sheriff’s Association Training Academy – Jefferson City, MO
For a complete list of the approved academies see the POST website.
Missouri Police Jobs Outlook
Cops and deputy sheriffs in Missouri have a bright future, with expected jobs growth of 8.3% through 2026.4 An average of 1,000 annual openings are expected during this period including replacements as well as new positions.4 The average salary for Missouri law enforcement officers is $47,080 per year.1
For more information about current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Missouri
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Kansas City MO-KS||4,220||$53,700|
|St. Louis MO-IL||6,250||$55,460|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.1
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
2. Kansas City Police Department: https://www.kcpd.org/
3. Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis: http://www.slmpd.org/hr_commissioned.shtml
4. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm