How to Become a Police Officer in New York

    new-york-policeFrom the major metro of New York City to rural upstate communities, the state of New York offers many opportunities for aspiring law enforcement officers. The state depends on 46,940 sworn police and sheriff patrol officers to protect and serve residents.1 The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services sets minimum qualifications and training criteria for new recruits statewide, though each New York municipality can set additional requirements. This page provides additional information on the qualifications needed to become a New York police officer as well as profiles of some of the top departments for law enforcement careers within the state.

    New York Police Officer Requirements

    To become one of New York’s finest, there are a number of requirements candidates must meet. Although the specific requirements can change from department to department, all aspiring cops must:

    • Be between 20 and 35 years of age (with select exemptions for military or police service)
    • Have a high school diploma or GED
    • Have proportionate height and weight
    • Be of good moral character
    • Not have any disqualifying felony or misdemeanor convictions

    Required Examinations

    New York police candidates will typically take a written civil service examination as a pre-qualification test. All hopeful cops must also submit to a character and background examination, psychological evaluation, a medical exam, and a physical agility test.

    “As an ‘applicant’ keep your nose clean! Go cut your neighbor’s lawn and shovel his snow because he may get a call asking what kind of person you are! Challenges would involve any history you have such as tickets or scrapes with the law. If you weren’t a stupid teenager, you probably missed a lot, but good for you! Don’t get discouraged if a particular job or department is not coming through. Take any test that you can and you will still be able to continue pursuing the department of your dreams even after you have been hired somewhere else.” – John Paolucci, Retired Police Officer and Forensics Expert at the NYPD

    New York Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

    The New York State Police (NYSP) operates with over 4,500 state troopers and more than 900 non-sworn employees.2 The state is divided into 10 troops, with each geographic area headed by a Troop Commander. The NYSP requires prospective recruits to complete a written entrance exam, which is only offered periodically. Candidates also must:

    • Be between the ages of 20 and 30
    • Meet New York state requirements for prospective officers
    • Have completed at least 60 college credit hours
    • Be a resident of New York state
    • Have a valid New York driver’s license
    • Have vision no worse than 20/100 in each eye correctable to 20/20
    • Not have any visible tattoos or body modifications while in uniform or business attire, including in short sleeves

    Candidates must pass an intensive Physical Ability Test (PAT), which includes a required number of sit-ups, push-ups, and a one-and-a-half mile run. The starting salary for New York state troopers is $53,993 while in the police academy, which is increased to $71,712 after graduation and to $76,712 after one year of service.2

    New York Sheriff Deputy Requirements

    There are 58 New York sheriffs, who may be elected or appointed depending on county laws.3 Unlike in most other states, the training of sheriffs and sheriff’s deputies in New York is not overseen by the statewide police training board. Instead, training for county law enforcement is designed by the New York Sheriffs’ Association. For those looking to become a sheriff’s deputy in New York, candidates must meet statewide requirements.

    Nassau County

    The Nassau County Sheriff’s Department (NCSD) provides law enforcement and corrections services to Nassau County, which includes Long Island. The department also executes warrants, conducts evictions, and supports the Department of Social Services. Prospective sheriff’s deputies in Nassau County must meet state requirements for law enforcement officers. The county hiring process begins with a written exam, which is offered when hiring is open.

    Erie County

    The Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) is the largest sheriff’s office in the state of New York and the fourteenth-largest in the US.4 The department hires two types of deputy sheriffs: criminal deputy sheriffs, who provide law enforcement and crime prevention services, and officer deputy sheriffs, who provide correctional services for inmates in the county holding center, in court, during transport, and elsewhere in the chain of custody.

    To qualify, prospective Erie County Deputy Sheriff-Criminal applicants must meet state requirements for law enforcement and:

    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Have a high school diploma and at least 60 college credit hours, or an equivalent combination of experience and education
    • Have a valid New York driver’s license

    To apply as an Erie County Deputy Sheriff-Officer, applicants must meet state minimums and:

    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Have a valid New York driver’s license

    Police Departments in New York

    There are over 500 law enforcement agencies in the state of New York, employing an estimated 46,940 police and sheriff’s patrol officers.1 Prospective cops in New York can work in major metros like New York City or Hempstead or in smaller towns like Niagara Falls or Long Beach. While departments may set their own requirements above the state minimums, all will follow the minimum guidelines for certifying police officers in New York.

    New York City

    Frequently shown on the small and big screens, the New York Police Department (NYPD) is one of the most well-known police forces in the US, if not the entire world. The NYPD is the largest police department in the US and one of the largest in the world, with approximately 36,000 officers.5 To be eligible to join the ranks of the NYPD, recruits must pass through one of the most rigorous selection processes for police officers in the US. To apply, candidates must:

    • Take the Police Officer’s Entrance Exam
    • Be at least 21 years of age and not older than 35, though applicants can take the Police Officer’s Entrance Exam at the age of 17.5
    • Have at least 60 credit hours of college experience or two years of active service in the US Armed Forces
    • Have a valid New York driver’s license
    • Live within the boroughs of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, or Orange within 30 days of hire
    • Have an acceptable criminal history as well as an acceptable employment history

    The starting salary for NYPD recruits is $42,500 per year, which rises to $85,292 after five-and-a-half years of service.5 For more information on careers in the NYPD, check out our New York City police page.


    Buffalo is located on the edge of Lake Erie close to Niagara Falls. The Buffalo Police Department (BPDNY) counts on its law enforcement officers to serve one of the most populous cities in New York outside of NYC. To be eligible to work as a Buffalo police officer, applicants must:

    • Take the required civil service exam
    • Be between the ages of 19 and 35 on the exam date
    • Be an official resident of the county
    • Have 60 college credits hours or two years of continuous military service


    Syracuse has an active police force in the Syracuse Police Department (SPD). New York’s fifth most populous city counts on over 450 sworn police to keep its streets safe for residents.6 To become a Syracuse police officer, aspiring recruits must meet state requirements and:

    • Be between the ages of 19.5 and 35
    • Possess a valid New York driver’s license
    • Have vision no worse than 20/100 correctable to 20/30

    Syracuse police recruits earn a starting salary of $44,377 with regular increases up to $66,116, plus overtime and other incentives.6

    “Once you get ‘IN’ you will realize that most of the bad guys you arrest won’t typically spend years in prison. Some of the people you help will still despise you and the same people will continue to break the law…get arrested…get released…break the law again. When you see this don’t despair. You are seeing what ‘real life’ is versus all the years to television and movies you based your impression of LE on. You are still doing a needed and worthwhile thing. Some people become jaded and cynical and that can keep you from advancing, from performing to your potential and from enjoying your career.”-Thomas Gerace, Police Lieutenant and FBI National Academy Graduate

    Police Training Academies in New York

    Once hired, prospective cops in New York start their careers as recruits in a police academy. Police academies in New York are overseen by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and are divided into geographic regions. Accredited police academies in New York include:

    • Central New York Police Academy – Syracuse, NY
    • City of Albany Law Enforcement Training Center – Albany, NY
    • Nassau County Police Academy – Massapequa Park, NY
    • New York City Police Academy – New York, NY
    • New York State Police Academy – Albany, NY
    • New York State Prepardness Academy, NYS Office of Homeland Security – Oriskany, NY
    • Suffolk County Police Academy – Brentwood, NY
    • Westchester County Department of Public Safety Police Academy – Valhalla, NY

    For more information on New York police academies, consult the DCJS website.

    New York Police Jobs Outlook

    There are currently 46,940 police and sheriff’s patrol officers in New York.1 The future of police careers in New York looks promising. According to 10-year growth estimates, the state should see 9.4% growth in law enforcement jobs through 2026.7 During this period, there will be an estimated 4,000 average annual openings.7 These job openings are expected to be due to growth as well as replacements.

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

    Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in New York

    CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
    Buffalo-Cheektowga-Niagara Falls2,250$66,280
    Nassau County-Suffolk County5,200$101,790
    New York-Jersey City-White Plains NY-NJ37,820$74,560

    Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.1

    1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New York: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ny.htm
    2. New York State Police: https://joinstatepolice.ny.gov/
    3. New York Sheriffs’ Association: https://nysheriffs.org/
    4. Erie County Sheriff’s Office: https://www2.erie.gov/sheriff/
    5. New York Police Department: https://www.nyc.gov/site/nypd/index.page
    6. Syracuse Police Department: https://joinsyracusepolice.com/
    7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm

    Image Credit: Cezary Piwowarski