How to Become a Police Officer in North Dakota

The Midwestern state of North Dakota is home to over 700,000 people.1 North Dakota is an affordable state with low utility and transportation costs. The overall cost of living is just 5% higher than the national average.2 With an annual average salary of $50,550, future cops can live comfortably with a solid career in North Dakota.3

Requirements for becoming a law enforcement officer in North Dakota may vary across cities and counties but there are some basic criteria that will apply to all potential officers. This guide will provide an overview of those prerequisites in addition to more specific requirements for sheriff’s deputies, state patrol, and a few local police departments in the state.

North Dakota Police Officer Requirements

Just over 1,000 law enforcement officers are employed in the state of North Dakota.3 The North Dakota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board establishes the training curriculum for all public law enforcement agencies in North Dakota and certifies officers.

Cops looking for employment in North Dakota must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a US citizen or a resident alien (as defined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service laws)
  • Have no felony or domestic violence convictions, nor have convictions for any crimes of moral turpitude
  • Not be prohibited from using or having a firearm in the state of North Dakota
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a satisfactory background investigation and be fingerprinted

Required Examinations

To move from applicant to recruit, potential cops must pass a medical exam and a psychological evaluation from a POST-approved psychologist.

North Dakota State Patrol Requirements

Under the leadership of Superintendent Colonel Michael Gerhart, Jr., the North Dakota Highway Patrol employed 146 sworn highway patrol officers in 2014.4 The Department is actively working to fill 10 state trooper positions across the state, but a larger number of cops are needed in western North Dakota. The starting wage for North Dakota State Patrol is $4,200 per month.4

To become a North Dakota State Trooper, applicants must:

  • Have been a US citizen for at least two years
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have visual acuity of 20/30 (corrected) in each eye and normal color and depth perception
  • Have no class A misdemeanors within the past five years, no class B misdemeanor convictions within the past three years, nor any felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Pass a written and physical exam, psychological and polygraph evaluation, an oral interview and a background examination
  • Have no suspension or revocation of driver’s license within the past three years
  • Possess a valid unrestricted driver’s license (except for corrective lenses)

In addition to those basic requirements, hopeful state patrol officers must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university OR
  • Have an associate degree* from a regionally accredited college or university plus two years of work experience dealing with the public OR
  • Have an associate degree* from an accredited college or university plus two years of military service

*60 credit hours may be a substitution for an associate degree

North Dakota Sheriff Deputy Requirements

North Dakota sheriff’s offices uphold the public safety of the state’s 53 counties. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) serves the state’s largest county that has a population of 167,006.5 CCSO patrol has four divisions for deputies:

  • Administrative/court services
  • Field services
  • Jail and corrections
  • Special projects

To join the CCSO, aspiring law enforcement officers must:

  • Be at least 21 year of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no misdemeanor convictions involving domestic violence, perjury, or false statements
  • Have been honorably discharged from the military

Police Departments in North Dakota

1,160 cops are currently employed in the state of North Dakota.3 Annual salaries for police officers range from about $43,000 in far eastern North Dakota (nonmetropolitan area) to over $57,000 in Fargo.3 All cops must meet the minimum requirements defined by the North Dakota POST, but other requirements may vary by city.


The Fargo Police Department employs 156 sworn officers and 22 civilian personnel.6 The department has several divisions, including a Canine (K9) Unit, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), Community Trust Officers (CTO), Cultural Liason Officers (CLO), Downtown Resource Officers (DRO), LGBTQ Liaison Officer, School Resource Officers (SRO), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and Truck Regulatory Officer (TRO).

To become a Fargo police officer, potential cops must:

  • Be a US or naturalized citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have visual acuity of 20/20 (corrected)
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have an associate degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university
  • Not have used marijuana regularly within the past five years or occasionally within the past three years, and not have used other controlled substances
  • Have no class A misdemeanors within the past three years, no class B misdemeanors within the past year, and no felony convictions
  • Have no drug convictions (excluding marijuana), no impaired driving convictions within the past two years (or refusal to submit to a chemical test)
  • Have no visible tattoos, body piercing or extreme body modification
  • Be honorably discharged from the military


The Bismarck Police Department (BPD) keeps the city’s 67,000 residents safe.7 The BPD employs cops and civilians in administrative services, field services, and the support services division.

To become a part of the BPD, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Possess (or be eligible to possess) a North Dakota driver’s license
  • Score 70% or higher on the Law Enforcement Entrance Exam
  • Have an associate degree or 60 credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher from an accredited college or university, have served at least four years of full-time active duty in the military or national guard (with an honorable discharge), or have three years of full-time work experience of sworn law enforcement experience in another jurisdiction
  • Have no DUIs within the past year nor felony convictions

Police Training Academies in North Dakota

Aspiring law enforcement in North Dakota will have to attend a four-month basic training at a POST-approved training academy. A few of the topics will include criminal and traffic law, firearm use, criminal investigation, and defensive driving. There are two training academies in North Dakota:

  • Law Enforcement Training Academy – Bismarck, ND
  • Peace Officer Training Program – Devils Lake, ND
“Never stop learning; never assume that anything you learn or observe is irrelevant; never assume that anything or anyone is safe; and never forget that you are here to protect and serve; that everyone deserves respect without earning it and no one deserves trust unless they earn it” – Dr. Joel F. Shults, author of The Badge and the Brain

North Dakota Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 1,160 cops in North Dakota with an annual salary of $50,550.3 It is projected that by 2022, the number of law enforcement officers will grow by 9.8% with an average of 71 annual job openings, which is faster than average for the US.8 The number of new police officers a city can hire is closely tied to a city’s budget and priorities, affecting the number of job openings. North Dakota is an affordable city where a hopeful law enforcement officer can begin a great career.

To search law enforcement jobs in North Dakota, check out our Police Jobs Board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in North Dakota

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Grand Forks, ND-NM90$47,910

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

1. US Census Bureau, North Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/nd/PST045217
2. Sperling’s Best Places, North Dakota: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/north_dakota
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, North Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nd.htm#33-0000
4. North Dakota State Patrol 2014 Annual Report: https://www.nd.gov/ndhp/
5. US Census Bureau, Cass County, North Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/casscountynorthdakota/PST045217
6. Fargo Police Department: http://fargond.gov/city-government/departments/police/about
7. US Census Bureau, Bismarck, North Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/bismarckcitynorthdakota/PST045217
8. North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network: http://www.jobsnd.com/labor-market-information