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How To Become Police Officer in New York in 5 Steps

The state of New York has a multitude of police departments dedicated to enforcing the law and keeping citizens safe. If this is of interest to you, embarking on a career as a police officer in New York may be worth considering. By understanding the necessary steps to join the state’s law enforcement, you can assess whether this role is the right fit for you and plan the next steps in your career path.

In this article, we discuss how to become a police officer in New York and explore the average salary for this role and the job outlook you can expect in this state.

How to become a police officer in New York

Here are 5 steps you can follow if you are interested in becoming a police officer in New York:

1. Meet age requirements

The age requirements to become a police officer in the state of New York can vary, depending on some factors. New York has a standard age requirement for individuals to be at least 20 years old, but not older than 35, from the date of their application. The state also suggests that individuals not be younger than 19 years old on the date of their examinations. For individuals who have served in the military, there is a waiver or an age extension policy.

Under military law, if an individual is a veteran who spent a maximum of six years serving, they can have those years subtracted from their age when determining if they’re eligible to apply to be a police officer. This is the only age exception or extension.

2. Complete other minimum qualifications

In addition to meeting the age requirements, there are other minimum qualifications for you to meet before applying. To meet these requirements you must:

  • Have at least earned your high school diploma or GED

  • Be a United States citizen

  • Pass vision and hearing tests

  • Obtain a valid New York driver’s license by the date of your exam

  • Have residency in Niagara, Genesee, Erie, Cattaraugus, Wyoming or Chautauqua County for at least 90 days prior to the day of your exam

  • Complete some college credit hours, though those serving in the military may be exempt from this requirement

  • Possess a clean record of felonies or misdemeanors

  • Have a good, moral and ethical character

  • Be up-to-date on all required vaccinations

3. Go through the hiring process and gain medical clearance

After meeting the minimum requirements, you can begin the hiring process. The first step is to apply to the police department where you wish to work. If you meet the requirements, the department will send a notice for you to take the recruitment exam on the next available date. To prepare for this exam, you can obtain a preparation guide either in person at the department or on the department’s website. After passing the written exam, you’ll be required to take a physical fitness exam.

There are three sections to the physical fitness exam, which are sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. The state requires you to pass each section of the exam in order to qualify for the role. Assuming you pass, you move on to the medical and physical exam to determine if you’re healthy enough to perform the standard duties of this role. From there, you complete a few more exams, including a psychological evaluation, drug tests, a civil service exam, oral interviews, a polygraph test, fingerprinting and a background investigation. The types of required tests can vary by county.

4. Attend the police academy

After passing your exams, you can attend the police academy. In the police academy, you learn the state laws, defensive tactics and firearm training. You also learn how to conduct investigations, operate a patrol car and write reports. Some other topics instructors may cover in the police academy can include behavioral science, active shooter responses, cultural diversity, bias-related incidents and crisis intervention. Completing the police academy can take six months. Depending on the department, you’re likely to earn an income while completing basic training.

5. Choose an area of specialty

Once you’ve completed the police academy, you can begin working as a patrol officer. It’s important to consider if there are any specialized areas you might wish to pursue. Two specialties to consider are:

New York trooper or highway patrol

In the state of New York, there are 10 different troops you can join. To join, it’s required that you pass a written entrance exam. To be considered for this specialty, you must also:

  • Be between the ages of 20 and 30 years old

  • Meet the New York State standard police officer requirements

  • Complete 60 college credit hours

  • Have residency in the state of New York

  • Hold a valid New York driver’s license

  • Have eye vision no less than 20/100 in each eye and corrected to 20/20 vision

  • Cover any visible tattoos or other body modifications while wearing your police uniform or business attire

Additionally, individuals are required to take the Physical Ability Test (PAT), which is a physical test consisting of sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. In this role, you may experience a salary increase after graduation from the police academy and after one year of serving.

Sheriff deputy


In the state of New York, there are 58 sheriff deputies who are either elected or appointed, depending on each county’s law. Here are two county examples:

  • Nassau County: To become a sheriff in this county, the department requires individuals to meet the state criteria to become police officers. After that, individuals can complete a written exam to determine their further qualifications.

  • Erie County: In this county, the department requires its individuals to be at least 21 years old, earn their high school diploma or GED, complete 60 hours of college credit and have a valid New York driver’s license.

Salary and job outlook information

Your salary may vary depending on your location in the state, your education and your experience level. The state average salary for a police officer in New York is $58,200 per year. This is the same as the national average salary for this role. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Some benefits you may experience in this role include a retirement savings plan, health insurance and primary caregiver leave. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects police and detective roles to grow 3% between 2021 and 2031, which is about as fast as all occupations.

Frequently asked questions

Is prior law enforcement experience a requirement to become a police officer in New York?

Prior law enforcement experience is not a requirement to become a police officer in New York. Some agencies may prefer candidates with military experience or prior law enforcement training, especially for leadership roles within the police force.

What are some benefits you receive when working as a police officer in New York?

Benefits of being a police officer in New York may include health and dental insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation and sick leave, tuition reimbursement and career advancement opportunities. For example, those who enter as patrol or traffic officers may advance into sergeant or detective roles with enough experience.

Can I become a police officer in New York if I have a criminal record?

Having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily disqualify a person from becoming a police officer in New York, but it can make the process more difficult. The hiring agency conducts a thorough background investigation and considers the nature and severity of any past criminal offenses before making a decision.

Police Officer in New York
Police Officer in New York

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