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How to Become a Police Officer in New Jersey

While residents of New Jersey experience a higher cost of living than residents of other states, salaries for police officers in the state are the highest in the nation, compensating for the cost of living difference.1,2 It’s the fourth smallest state in the nation, but the most densely-populated state in the US. Also densely-populated is New Jersey’s law enforcement population, with the fourth highest concentration of jobs for police and sheriff’s patrol officers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014.2 Together, the metropolitan area including New York, White Plains and Wayne has the nation’s highest employment level in the occupation.2

Every city and police department in New Jersey has its own individual requirements for police officers, but there are some basic requirements that apply to all cops in the state. Continue reading for those, and more department-specific guidelines.

New Jersey Police Officer Requirements

New Jersey law enforcement agencies are regulated by either the Civil Service (Department of Personnel) or their own local ordinances/regulations. Around half of the agencies fall under the Civil Service regulations.3

Nationality, Age and Education

All applicants to law enforcement agencies in New Jersey must be:

  • US citizens
  • Healthy enough for the retirement system
  • Able to read, write and speak the English language
  • Of good moral character, with no convictions of any criminal offense
  • Over the age of 18 and under the age of 35*
  • High-school educated, with a degree or GED equivalent**

*New Jersey State Police Officer candidates must be over the age of 21 at the time of the application.
**New Jersey State Police Officer candidates must also possess a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or 60 college semester hours plus two years of military experience.

Required Examinations and Background Clearance

All aspiring law enforcement in the state of New Jersey must comply with certain required exams and background clearance, including:

  • A written examination*
  • 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 (Department of Personnel) 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. With 21 counties, New Jersey is the home of the New Jersey Turnpike, which is the nation’s fifth busiest toll road, as well as other major freeways that are heavily congested with high volumes of travelers. In total, the state has 38,131 miles of roads, and the New Jersey State Police is responsible for patrolling them. The NJSP has roughly 2,400 state troopers and over 1,500 civilian employees. Applicants to the NJSP must:

  • Have reached at least 21 and under 35 years of age prior to graduation from the State Police class
  • Be citizens of the US
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • 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*

*All college credits and degrees must be from an accredited college or university.

New Jersey Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements

Sheriff’s officers 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 of an exam offered by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission

Essex County

With a population of 795,000, Essex County includes Newark, West Orange, Bloomfield, Verona, and other cities.4 Appointed in 1990, Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura is the head of New Jersey’s largest and most active sheriff’s department. He is the longest-tenured sheriff in Essex County’s history.

Burlington County

Burlington County has a population of around 450,000 and includes cities like Burlington, Willingboro, Moorestown, and Lumberton.4 The Burlington County Sheriff is Jean E. Stanfield. Divisions in this sheriff’s office include a civil division, a community services unit, a K-9 unit, a senior services unit, and a warrant unit.

Atlantic County

Frank Balles is the current Sheriff of Atlantic County, which includes the cities of Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, and Brigantine and has a population of 275,000.4 A lifelong resident of Atlantic County, Sheriff Balles began in law enforcement in 1984 as a police officer for the Pleasantville Police Department. The office employs about 100 officers and 35 civilians. Units include community policing/ bike patrol, courts, domestic violence, fugitives/ warrants, internal affairs and K-9.

Police Departments in New Jersey

In 2014, the state of New Jersey reported 22,200 police and sheriff’s patrol officers.2

Newark

Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, has a population of 277,000.4 The Newark Police Department (NPD) is the largest municipal law enforcement agency in the state of New Jersey, and in 2014, it employed over 1,000 officers. The Police Director is Eugene Venable and the Chief of Police is Anthony Campos. The NPD covers five precincts, a METRO division, and a special operations division.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City has a population of around 40,000, but more like 275,000 living in the metropolitan area that includes Hammonton. The Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) has been protecting the city of Atlantic City for years, with its patrol, traffic, and K-9 units. The Chief of Police is Henry White, who has held the post since 2013, and has served with the ACPD since 1985.

Police Training Academies in New Jersey

New Jersey State Police Academy

All state police officers are required to attend the New Jersey State Police Academy in Sea Girt. Training for these aspirants takes place over 24 weeks, and officers-in-training live on campus. Classes take place between Monday at 6:00 am and Friday at 6:00 pm, The curriculum is based on situation-based training and research. Recruits are also expected to endure physical training, self-defense courses, firearms courses, water safety courses, and driving instruction.

For a list of all police training academies approved by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Police Training Commission, see the Police Training Commission website.

New Jersey Police Jobs Outlook

The outlook for New Jersey cops is relatively positive. New Jersey boasts the highest-paid cops in the entire United States, with the average law enforcement officer earning a healthy $88,530 in 2014.2 While Projections Central predicts a decrease of 1.2% in the profession in New Jersey through 2022, it still predicts a growth of 700 new police and sheriff’s patrol officer jobs each year.5 As a whole, the police profession is projected to grow about 5% through 2022 nationwide, and with New Jersey’s high salaries for police officers, becoming a cop in New Jersey is worth your while.5

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in New Jersey

City Number Employed Average Annual Salary
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 51,250 $80,190
New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ 36,680 $75,320
Newark-Union, NJ-PA 4,880 $86,290
Edison-New Brunswick, NJ 4,500 $94,350

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

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, New Jersey: http://www.bestplaces.net/state/new-jersey
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 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 (NJSACOP): http://www.njsacop.org/index.asp
4. US Census Bureau, New Jersey: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/34,00
5. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm