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How to Become a Police Officer in Ohio

With a population of over 11.6 million, Ohio can be a great state for aspiring police officers to launch a career.1 The state enjoys a low cost of living (about 12% lower than the national average) and respectable average salaries for cops ($59,280 average per year).1,2 Prospective cops in Ohio must meet statewide minimum standards as well as any additional standards held by the hiring agency. Continue reading to learn more about the requirements for police officers in Ohio.

Police Officer Requirements

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) oversees professional standards for law enforcement officers in Ohio. Every individual who seeks to become a police officer in Ohio must, at a minimum:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least a high school graduate or have a GED
  • Be at least 21 years of age when taking the civil servants exam
  • Have no felony convictions

Required Exams

The OPOTC requires that officer candidates pass a drug screen and background check as well as meet minimum physical fitness standards for the 1.5-mile run, situps, and pushups. While not required by law in Ohio, most hiring agencies will also have candidates take a polygraph test, a written exam, and a psychological evaluation. Successful recruits will be assigned to the police academy for training.

“Candidates should prepare the best way they can for the examination by taking as many practice exams as they can, studying how tests are made and what is involved. Reading comprehension, observation skills, and spatial orientation are always major components. These skills can be practiced. Today, a candidate cannot walk into a police exam and say, ‘All I have to do is get an 80 to get hired.’ Those days are gone.” – Joseph L. Giacalone, Author of the Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for the New Investigator

Ohio Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

Ohio has approximately 49,000 miles of highway, patrolled by the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).3 The Ohio State Patrol is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. About 1,600 uniformed officers work for the OSHP, with an additional 1,000 support personnel.3 In order to become an Ohio state trooper, recruits must meet state standards and:

  • Be 20 to 34 years of age
  • Be an established Ohio resident and hold a valid Ohio driver’s license upon commission
  • Have uncorrected vision of at least 20/100 in each eye correctable to 20/20 with normal color vision
  • Have hearing within required parameters

Starting base pay for Ohio state troopers is $49,400 per year.3 Troopers receive an annual increase each year through year six of service, at which time the base pay is $64,432 per year.3 Troopers also qualify for pay supplements and paid holiday overtime.

Ohio Sheriff’s Deputy Requirements

Ohio is divided into 88 counties and each of those counties has a sheriff, who is typically an elected official. Sheriffs appoint sheriff’s deputies in order to help them carry out the duties of the office which include county law enforcement services and overseeing county correctional facilities and inmates. In Ohio, sheriff’s deputies typically must meet the same standards as other law enforcement officers in the state plus any qualifications required by the hiring office.

Franklin County

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) has jurisdiction over Franklin County, which includes the city of Columbus. Those interested in a career with the FCSO must meet state requirements for law enforcement officers and register with the National Testing Network to take the department’s entry-level law enforcement exam. The hiring process is opened once per year, though candidates may test at any time.

After these basic screening measures are met and the hiring process is opened, prospective FCSO sheriff’s deputies must:

  • Take the PAT (Physical Abilities Test)
  • Participate in a candidate interview
  • Submit to a background investigation and polygraph test
  • Submit to a review of information gathered (a pre-employment offer may be made at this time)
  • Take a physical and psychological examination to determine fitness

Police Departments in Ohio

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 24,950 sworn police officers in the state of Ohio.2 Officers in Ohio work in rural communities, suburban towns, and metro cities alike. While all police officers in the state must meet OPOTC minimums, cities may look for additional qualifications in officer applicants.

Columbus

With a population of over 870,000, Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and one of the largest cities in the US.1 The city is home to one of the largest police departments in the United States, the Columbus Division of Police (CDP). The CDP employs over 1,800 sworn law enforcement officers.4 Prospective Columbus police must, in addition to state standards:

  • Be at least 20 years of age at the time of application
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Be a US citizen (permanent residency does not qualify)
  • Not have tried or purchased marijuana within the past year
  • Not have tried or purchased any other drugs within the past three years
  • Not have any DUI/DWI violations within the past five years
  • Have an acceptable background including, but not limited to, felonies, misdemeanors, protection orders, child support non-compliance, and traffic records

To learn more, see our informative guide on becoming a police officer in Columbus.

Cleveland

The Cleveland Police Department (CPD) is the second-largest police force in Ohio, with about 1,600 officers and 225 civilian employees working to protect its 385,000 residents.5 Prospective Cleveland police officers must meet state requirements and:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Attain US citizen prior to appointment to the police academy
  • Be available and willing to work any shift(s) during the week, including holidays and nights

Cleveland police make a starting annual salary of $51,691 per year.5 To learn more about the CPD, check out our Cleveland guide.

Cincinnati

Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio, with nearly 300,000 residents.1 The Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) currently employs approximately 1,000 sworn police officers and 125 civilian employees.6 The department is the main law enforcement agency for the City of Cincinnati and is responsible for a full array of policing services to 52 distinct neighborhoods. The law enforcement tasks are separated into three bureaus: patrol, investigations, and support. Those who would like to work for the CPD must meet statewide minimum requirements.

Police Training Academies in Ohio

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) is responsible for setting and enforcing minimum standards for police training in Ohio. There are over 60 police training facilities in the state that provide training in basic, advanced, and specialized skills. Those who are offered a law enforcement position with any agency in the state of Ohio must undergo training at one of these academies. Ohio police academies include:

  • Cleveland Police Academy – Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus Police Academy – Columbus, OH
  • Eastland Police Academy – Groveport, OH
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Academy – Grove City, OH
  • Greene County Criminal Justice Training Academy – Xenia, OH
  • Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy – London, OH
  • Toledo Police Academy – Toledo, OH

For a full list of police academies in Ohio, including community colleges that provide basic training for tuition-paying students, see the OPOTC website.

Police Jobs Outlook in Ohio

The outlook for police and sheriff’s patrol officer jobs in Ohio is positive. Employment of law enforcement officers in the state is expected to increase by 2.5% through 2026.7 Including replacements, there will be an anticipated 1,640 annual openings for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in the state through 2026.7

To check out police jobs in Ohio and across the United States, visit our police jobs board.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Ohio

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Cincinnati OH-KY4,160$61,650
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor5,100$60,440
Columbus4,750$70,330
Dayton1,630$63,160

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.2

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Ohio: https://www.bestplaces.net/state/ohio
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Ohio: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm
3. Ohio State Highway Patrol: https://statepatrol.ohio.gov/
4. Columbus Division of Police: https://www.columbus.gov/police/
5. Cleveland Police Department: http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/PublicSafety/Police
6. Cincinnati Police Department: https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/police/
7. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm