How to Become a Police Officer in New Jersey
While residents of New Jersey see a higher cost of living than most other states, salaries for police officers in the state are the second-highest in the nation, which can help compensate for the cost of living difference.1,2 While there are some basic requirements that apply to all cops in the state, individual police departments can have their own additional requirements for police officers. Continue reading to learn more about the requirements for New Jersey police officers.
New Jersey Police Officer Requirements
New Jersey law enforcement agencies are regulated by either the Civil Service Commission or their own local ordinances/regulations. Around half of the agencies fall under the Civil Service regulations.3 To be hired as a police recruit in most New Jersey police departments, candidates must:
- Be between the ages of 21 and 35
- Be a US citizen
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be able to read, write, and speak the English language fluently
- Be of good moral character, with no disqualifying criminal convictions
All aspiring law enforcement officers in the state of New Jersey must pass qualifying exams, typically including:
- A written examination*
- A physical fitness test, including a timed run, push-ups, and sit-ups
- A background investigation, including a fingerprint and criminal history check
- A medical and psychological exam
- An in-person interview
*All Civil Service Commission agencies require applicants to take the Civil Service Exam. More information about this test can be found on the Civil Service Commission’s website.
New Jersey Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) is headquartered in West Trenton. New Jersey is the home of the New Jersey Turnpike, which is one of the nation’s busiest toll roads, as well as other major freeways with high volumes of traffic that fall under the NJSP’s jurisdiction. The NJSP has roughly 2,400 state troopers and over 1,500 civilian employees.4 Applicants to the NJSP must meet Civil Service Commission regulations and:
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have a bachelor’s degree OR possess a minimum of 90 college credits and will complete their degree prior to the time of the written evaluation OR have an associate degree or 60 college credits AND a minimum of 24 months of employment or military service OR at least 30 college credits AND at least 24 months of active duty military service with honorable discharge*
- Not have two or more driving while intoxicated offenses or other disqualifying offenses
- Not have any tattoos or body modifications on the face, head, neck, scalp, hands, or other parts exposed while in uniform
- Complete a two-day Academy Awareness Weekend during the selection process
*All college credits and degrees must be from an accredited college or university.
The starting salary for New Jersey state troopers is $62,736 per year, which rises to $70,515 in the second year of service.4 Troopers receive incremental increases each year thereafter.4
New Jersey Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements
Sheriff’s deputies in New Jersey will see different requirements based on the department, but in general, the requirements are similar to those of police officers. Basic requirements state that candidates must:
- Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be medically and psychologically sound
- Be able to pass an intense physical examination
- Successfully complete the written exam offered by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission
Essex County Sheriff’s Department (ECSO) is the largest and most active sheriff’s department in New Jersey.5 With a population of 795,000, Essex County includes Newark, West Orange, Bloomfield, Verona, and other cities.5 The ECSO follows the Civil Service Commission requirements and process for hiring deputy sheriffs, including a prequalifying written Civil Service exam.
Burlington County has a population of around 450,000 and includes cities like Burlington, Willingboro, Moorestown, and Lumberton.6 The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department (BCSD) includes a civil division, a community services unit, a K-9 unit, a senior services unit, and a warrant unit. Burlington County also follows the Civil Service Commission requirements and process when hiring deputy sheriffs.
The Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has jurisdiction over the cities of Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, and Brigantine, with a total population of over 275,000.7 The ACSO employs about 100 officers and 35 civilians.7 Units include community policing/ bike patrol, courts, domestic violence, fugitives/warrants, internal affairs, and K-9. To work for the ACSO, prospective sheriff’s deputies must meet Civil Service Commission requirements and pass the appropriate qualifying exams.
Police Departments in New Jersey
There are numerous local police departments in New Jersey in both small town and big city settings and prospective police officers in the state can choose from careers in busy metro areas or quieter beachfront vacation spots. As of 2017, about 19,580 police and sheriff’s patrol officers were employed in New Jersey.8 As noted above, about half of New Jersey’s police departments follow the Civil Service Commission process, while others set their own requirements.3
Newark is the largest city in New Jersey with a population of about 285,000.9 The Newark Police Division (NPD) is part of the largest municipal law enforcement agency in the state of New Jersey, and employs over 1,000 officers.9 The NPD covers five precincts, a METRO division, and a special operations division.
The Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) is a major metro police force with specialized patrol, traffic, and K-9 units, among others. Prospective recruits for the Atlantic City Police Department must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be between the ages of 18 and 35
- Be and have been a resident of Atlantic City for at least four years prior to application
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Pass the state Civil Service exam
- Have a New Jersey driver’s license
Lakewood Township is a large municipality in Ocean County. The Lakewood Township Police Department is a New Jersey Civil Service department that hires police recruits from a list which is made up of men and women who have successfully passed a civil service test. Tests are administered every few years and can be found by going online and applying for the test through the New Jersey Civil Service Commission. Prospective officers must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be a resident of Lakewood
- Be between the ages of 18-35
- Have a high school diploma
Once a thorough background check is completed, newly-hired recruits must successfully complete a police academy before becoming certified police officers. The entire process may last from a few months to years.
Police Training Academies in New Jersey
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Police Training Commission (PTC) is responsible for developing and enforcing police training standards in the state. The PTC certifies police academies, training materials, and instructors to ensure that all law enforcement officers receive adequate training for their responsibilities. Certified police academies in New Jersey include:
- Atlantic County Police Training Center – Egg Harbor Township, NJ
- Camden County College Police Academy – Blackwood, NJ
- Division of Criminal Justice Training Academy – Sea Girt, NJ
- New Jersey State Police Academy – Sea Girt, NJ
- Ocean County Police Academy – Lakewood, NJ
- John H. Stamler Police Academy – Scotch Plains, NJ
For a full list of approved police academies in New Jersey, see the NJPTC website.
New Jersey Police Jobs Outlook
The average salary for New Jersey police officers was $83,570 in 2017.8 While a decrease of 1.5% in law enforcement positions in New Jersey is expected through 2026, the state should still see an anticipated annual average of 1,270 police openings due to replacements during that time frame.10 With high average salaries and a continuing need to hire police officers as current officers retire or leave the force, New Jersey can be a great place to start a career in police work.
For more information current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.
Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in New Jersey
|City||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.8
1. Sperling’s Best Places, New Jersey: https://www.bestplaces.net/state/new-jersey
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
3. New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police: https://www.njsacop.org/content.asp?contentid=28
4. New Jersey State Police: https://nj.gov/njsp/
5. Essex County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.essexsheriff.com/
6. Burlington County Sheriff’s Department: http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/130/Sheriffs-Department
7. Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office: http://www.acsheriff.org/index.asp
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, New Jersey: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm
9. Newark Police Division: https://npd.newarkpublicsafety.org/
10. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm