How to Become a Police Officer in Utah

Utah is known for many things, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its beautiful and rugged natural scenery. What is less known about Utah is that the state has a strong job market with the third lowest unemployment rate in the country at just 3.4%.1 Anyone hoping to join a law enforcement agency in Utah needs to meet the requirements set by the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST). New recruits must also complete the basic police academy program, run by the Utah POST.

Utah Police Officer Requirements

The Utah POST sets the basic minimum requirements for any officer of the law in the state. Local cops, state police, and sheriff’s deputies must all meet these requirements before being certified as a law enforcement agent. They include having:

  • A minimum age of 21
  • US citizenship
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Good moral character as determined by a thorough background check
  • No felony convictions
  • No dishonorable discharge from the military
  • Passed the POST Academy entrance exam

With minimum requirements met, new recruits must either be hired by a sheriff’s office or police department before attending the main POST Academy. POST also runs satellite academies throughout the state. Anyone not hired by a law enforcement agency, but who meets the requirements and is willing to pay tuition, may attend one of the satellite programs. These programs include the same curriculum as the POST Academy.

Utah Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

The Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) hires troopers to protect travelers and Utah residents by keeping drunk drivers off the roads, seizing drugs, monitoring the safety of commercial vehicles, and educating young people about road and driving safety. New recruits have the chance to work toward specialty trooper units including the K-9 unit, executive protection, the SWAT team, and the helicopter division. In addition to the POST minimum requirements, hopeful new troopers must have:

  • A clean driving record
  • No visible tattoos in uniform
  • No illegal drug use within the last five years
  • No misdemeanor or domestic violence charges
  • No crimes of dishonesty within the last four years

Utah Sheriff Deputy Requirements

All counties in Utah have a sheriff’s office or department and each has its own process and standards for hiring deputies. Those hired must meet the POST minimum requirements and complete training and certification through the POST Academy or one of its satellite campuses.

Salt Lake County

With its county seat in the largest city in the state, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County has a sizable sheriff’s office. It is responsible for two corrections facilities, crime prevention in the county, search and rescue, and has a mounted posse division. The sheriff’s office hires deputies for both corrections and patrol and protection duties and follows the requirements set by POST. Salt Lake County runs its own satellite of the POST Academy, which new recruits attend for 12 weeks to become certified.

Davis County

Davis County has its county seat in the city of Farmington and is home to the Davis County Sheriff’s Office and a staff of dedicated deputies. To be considered for a position as a deputy here, new recruits have to meet the POST standards and also must:

  • Have a valid Utah driver’s license
  • Have proof of current auto insurance
  • Be willing to work weekends, holidays, and rotating shifts
  • Score at least 70 percent on the POST entrance exam
  • Pass a drug screening

Police Departments in Utah

From Salt Lake City to the smaller towns in rural Utah the state is home to many local police departments and hopeful new cops have plenty of opportunities for employment. New recruits can be hired by a police department and sponsored by that department to attend the POST Academy. Alternatively, those hoping to be hired in the future can pay tuition to attend a POST Academy satellite campus in order to become certified for law enforcement work in the state.

Salt Lake City

With a population of 191,180, Salt Lake City is Utah’s largest city, but it is small compared to many big cities around the country.2 The Salt Lake City Police Department recruits dedicated people wanting to make a difference and to help residents. They offer competitive pay and benefits including longevity pay and accumulated personal leave time. To be considered for a position as an officer, new recruits must meet the POST requirements and:

  • Pass a physical agility test
  • Pass an interview
  • Have good communication skills
  • Pass a psychological examination
  • Pass a medical examination and a drug screening
  • Have a valid Utah driver’s license within 30 days of being hired

West Valley City

West Valley City is a suburb of Salt Lake City and the state’s second largest city. The West Valley City Police Department is always looking for qualified and devoted new police officers to join the force. Hopeful recruits must meet the POST requirements, complete an application and written examination, successfully finish a physical fitness test and undergo a background investigation, a psychological and medical examination, and an interview. Preference is given to candidates with:

  • Military experience
  • Any level of college degree, including an associate’s degree
  • Proficiency in a foreign language
  • Residency in West Valley City

Police Training Academies in Utah

The main police training academy in the state is the POST Academy in Sandy, Utah. POST sets the standards for the curriculum and certification for instructors. The POST council also certifies several satellite academies at college campuses throughout the state:

  • Bridgerland Applied Technology College – Logan, UT
  • Dixie State University – St. George, UT
  • Salt Lake Community College – Salt Lake City, UT
  • Utah State University Eastern – Price, UT
  • Utah Valley University – Orem, UT
  • Weber State University – Ogden, UT

Utah Police Jobs Outlook

The outlook for deputy and cop jobs in the state of Utah is promising. Between now and 2022 the projection is for 19.4% growth in law enforcement jobs, which is equivalent to 270 new positions per year on average, and far higher than the national average of around 5%.3 For those hopeful new recruits, the average salary for patrol officers and deputies in Utah would be around $46,500 (average for 2014), although actual salaries vary by department and experience.4

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

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Utah

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Salt Lake City1,930$51,270

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

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
2. US Census Bureau, Utah: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ut/PST045217
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Utah: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ut.htm#33-0000