Pennsylvania’s sheriffs deal with a variety of law enforcement and public administration concerns within the 67 counties of the Keystone State. Overseeing county jails, communicating and coordinating on tasks with other law enforcement agencies and serving warrants are some of their regular responsibilities. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, then this guide would tell you how to become a sheriff in Pennsylvania.

Should I Become a Sheriff in Pennsylvania?

  • Education
  • Area of Study/Major Requirement
  • Licenses/Certifications
  • Experience/Training
  • Key Skills
  • Annual Mean Salary (2019)-National
  • Job Outlook(2018-2028)
  • Annual Mean Salary (2019)-Pennsylvania
  • High School Diploma/GED(General Educational Development) Certificate.
    *Unless stated otherwise, specialized post-secondary education is not a binding requirement in most counties. However, attaining it is certainly beneficial for your long-term career growth.
  • Criminal Justice, Judicial Function, Human Relations, Criminology, Forensic Science, Law Enforcement, etc.
  • N/A
  • Required
  • Resource and Personnel Management, Problem Sensitivity, Public Safety and Security, Communication, Inductive/Deductive Reasoning, Judgment and Decision Making
  • $94,950 (First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives)
  • 5% (Police and Detectives)
  • $96,040(First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives)

Sources:O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

As a county sheriff in Pennsylvania, you will regularly interact with other public offices. Moreover, you will supervise the work of sheriff deputies, correctional officers and other staff under your command. Communicating and collaborating with local police units is also a major part of the job.

Career Outlook

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Detectives jobs will increase by 5% from 2018 to 2028 owing to the ever-increasing safety concerns of the public.

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Pennsylvania

Aspiring Pennsylvania sheriffs need to follow the process outlined below.
*Sheriffs are elected by and work for counties rather than states.


Exceptions aside, you will need at most a High School Diploma or GED (General Educational Development) Certificate to pursue employment with most county sheriff offices in Pennsylvania. But, it is always advantageous to have better educational credentials. So, if you have the opportunity, do not hesitate to go for an Associate’s/Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Criminology, or a related subject.

Law Enforcement Employment

Having enough law enforcement experience is one of the major requirements of becoming a sheriff in Pennsylvania. You can acquire that by working as a police officer or by pursuing direct employmentwith a county sheriff’s office (correctional officers, sheriff’s deputies, etc.).
To join a police force in the Keystone State, you have to pass various evaluations (written test, physical and medical assessment, drugs and polygraph examination, background investigation, etc.) and then undergo police academy training.

Work Experience

Once the training is over, you can begin service as a law enforcement officer.

Pennsylvania County Sheriff Elections

When you have enough law enforcement experience on your resume, you can contest the sheriff’s ballot. Win it to earn the right to become a Pennsylvania county sheriff. You can go for reelection upon the completion of your stint in office.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Sheriff in Pennsylvania?

The process of becoming a Pennsylvania sheriff is a long one. The initial selection and law enforcement training procedure can take about 2 years. After that, you have to serve as a law enforcement officer for a number of years (depending on the requirement set by your county) to be eligible to enter the sheriff’s ballot.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Sheriff in Pennsylvania?

You need to fulfill the below-mentioned criteria to become a Pennsylvania county sheriff.

  • Should be at least 21. The age requirement tends to be different in some counties.
  • Be a legal US citizen.
  • Have a High School Diploma or a GED Certificate. Some counties may prefer candidates with better educational credentials.
  • Hold a valid Pennsylvania driving license.
  • Should not have any kind of criminal record.
  • Undergo law enforcement training.
  • Obtain the required law enforcement experience.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Sheriff in Pennsylvania?

According to the latest records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives in Pennsylvania drew $96,040 in annual mean salary in 2019.
*There is no state-wise compensation data available. The annual mean salary for First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives has been mentioned here as a reference point only.

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