How to Become a Police Officer in South Dakota

South Dakota is a great place for an aspiring cop to begin a career. More than 1,600 law enforcement officers serve the state’s population of roughly 850,000.1,2 The state’s low cost of living (2% lower than the national average) makes it an appealing place for officers to call home.3

While every police department in South Dakota has its own standards and requirements, there are some statewide requirements that all cops in the state must meet. More city-specific requirements are listed below.

South Dakota Police Officer Requirements

The South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission certifies all law enforcement officers in the state. They administer the law enforcement basic certification course to all South Dakota cops and are responsible for licensing of polygraph examiners, tracking continuing education requirements for certified law enforcement officers, and coordinating advanced training courses.

To become a law enforcement officer in South Dakota, candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Been fingerprinted
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Not have used any controlled substances, marijuana or prescribed drug (illegally) within the past year
  • Not have been decertified as an officer from any other state through revocation, suspension, resignation or dismissal

Required Examinations

Candidates must undergo a physical exam by a licensed physician to ensure that he or she is in good physical condition.

To maintain certification, cops in South Dakota must complete 40-hours of training every two years. Training must include firearms training and domestic violence training.

“Real strength can only be achieved if you have the respect of the citizens you serve. Having weapons and might is a fa├žade. Be firm but fair as you deal with the citizens you serve. They are your masters.” – Paul Huebl, author of the Crime, Guns, and Videotape blog and former Chicago Police Officer

South Dakota State Patrol Requirements

The South Dakota Highway Patrol (SDHP) employs 162 sworn officers across four units.3 Those units include: the police service dog unit, aircraft patrol unit, emergency support vehicles, and emergency communications unit.

Potential cops looking to join the South Dakota Highway Patrol must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be 21 years of age prior to starting the training academy
  • Have visual acuity of 20/20 binocular vision (corrected) and normal color, depth perception and field of view
  • Have normal hearing in both ears
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Be willing to be stationed in any county in South Dakota and responsive 24 hours a day

South Dakota Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Sheriff’s in South Dakota keep ensure the public safety of the state’s 66 counties. Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, South Dakota’s second largest county, has 372 sworn and civilian employees, 40 of which are in the patrol division.5

Deputy sheriff’s make between $42,307 to $45,572 annually. To join the Pennington Sheriff’s Office as a deputy, candidates must:

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Have no felony convictions

Police Departments in South Dakota

Police officers in South Dakota earn an average salary of $42,840 annually.1 All cops must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission, each police department may have different criteria that prospective officers must meet.

Sioux Falls

The Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) is currently hiring full-time police officers. The department has three divisions: administrative services, investigative services and uniformed services.

To join the SFPD, law enforcement hopefuls must:

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be at least 21 years of age at the time of the written exam
  • Have an associates degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university, or two years of law enforcement experience, or two years of active military experience, or any combination of education, experience and training (approved by the hiring authority)
  • Have no convictions of any crimes punishable by imprisonment
  • Not have used any controlled substances, marijuana or prescribed drug (illegally) within the past year
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have a visual acuity of 20/40 (corrected) and can distinguish between red, green and amber
  • Have hearing abilities to hear a forced whisper at five feet without the use of a hearing aid

Rapid City

The Rapid City Police Department (RCPD) just announced a summer recruitment drive to hire new officers. RCPD employs 153 full-time employees.6 The department has three divisions: field services, criminal investigations, and support services. Possible areas of work include traffic enforcement, crash investigation, criminal investigation, street crimes unit, forensic laboratory, and the special response team.

To join RCPD, future cops must:

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Have no felony convictions or serious misdemeanor offence

To satisfy the education and experience requirement, candidates must have one of the following:

  • An associate degree or no fewer than 64 credit hours from an accredited academic institution OR
  • Four years of certified law enforcement experience OR
  • Four years of active, full-time military experience OR
  • An equivalent combination of education and experience

Police Training Academies in South Dakota

South Dakota has one basic training academy, the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center administered by the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Located in Pierre, South Dakota, basic training is a 13-week, 520-hour course. Basic training will teach recruits police practices and procedure, human behavior, firearms proficiency, emergency vehicle operations, use of force and defensive tactics.

South Dakota Police Jobs Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 1,640 cops in South Dakota.1 The average annual salary for South Dakota law enforcement is $42,840.1 It is projected that by 2022, that workforce will increase by 3.5% with 60 projected annual job openings.7 With many cities and counties actively recruiting, South Dakota is a great place for an aspiring cop to begin his or her career. As always, the number of new law enforcement officers hired depends on the city or county’s budget and priorities.

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in South Dakota

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Central Sorth Dakota nonmetropolitan190$37,090
Rapid City270$43,450
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD280$55,980

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

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
2. US Census Bureau, South Dakota: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sd/PST045217
3. Sperling’s Best Places, South Dakota: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/south_dakota
4. South Dakota Department of Public Safety, South Dakota Highway Patrol: https://dps.sd.gov/safety-enforcement/highway-patrol/history
5. Pennington County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.pennco.org/sheriff/
6. Rapid City Police Department: https://www.rcgov.org/departments/police-department/about-the-police-dept.html
7. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm