Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
33-3051.00

Maintain order and protect life and property by enforcing local, tribal, state, or federal laws and ordinances. Perform a combination of the following duties: patrol a specific area; direct traffic; issue traffic summonses; investigate accidents; apprehend and arrest suspects, or serve legal processes of courts. Includes police officers working at educational institutions.

Sample of reported job titles: Deputy, Deputy Sheriff, Law Enforcement Officer, Patrol Deputy, Patrol Officer, Peace Officer, Police Officer, Police Patrol Officer, Public Safety Officer, State Trooper

Also see: Customs and Border Protection Officers

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Identify, pursue, and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.
  • Provide for public safety by maintaining order, responding to emergencies, protecting people and property, enforcing motor vehicle and criminal laws, and promoting good community relations.
  • Record facts to prepare reports that document incidents and activities.
  • Render aid to accident victims and other persons requiring first aid for physical injuries.
  • Review facts of incidents to determine if criminal act or statute violations were involved.
  • Investigate illegal or suspicious activities.
  • Monitor, note, report, and investigate suspicious persons and situations, safety hazards, and unusual or illegal activity in patrol area.
  • Testify in court to present evidence or act as witness in traffic and criminal cases.
  • Relay complaint and emergency-request information to appropriate agency dispatchers.
  • Monitor traffic to ensure motorists observe traffic regulations and exhibit safe driving procedures.
  • Drive vehicles or patrol specific areas to detect law violators, issue citations, and make arrests.
  • Execute arrest warrants, locating and taking persons into custody.
  • Patrol and guard courthouses, grand jury rooms, or assigned areas to provide security, enforce laws, maintain order, and arrest violators.
  • Photograph or draw diagrams of crime or accident scenes and interview principals and eyewitnesses.
  • Evaluate complaint and emergency-request information to determine response requirements.
  • Patrol specific area on foot, horseback, or motorized conveyance, responding promptly to calls for assistance.
  • Investigate traffic accidents and other accidents to determine causes and to determine if a crime has been committed.
  • Verify that the proper legal charges have been made against law offenders.
  • Transport or escort prisoners and defendants en route to courtrooms, prisons or jails, attorneys' offices, or medical facilities.
  • Direct traffic flow and reroute traffic in case of emergencies.
  • Question individuals entering secured areas to determine their business, directing and rerouting individuals as necessary.
  • Notify patrol units to take violators into custody or to provide needed assistance or medical aid.
  • Place people in protective custody.
  • Serve statements of claims, subpoenas, summonses, jury summonses, orders to pay alimony, and other court orders.
  • Inform citizens of community services and recommend options to facilitate longer-term problem resolution.
  • Locate and confiscate real or personal property, as directed by court order.
  • Provide road information to assist motorists.
  • Conduct community programs for all ages concerning topics such as drugs and violence.
  • Process prisoners, and prepare and maintain records of prisoner bookings and prisoner status during booking and pre-trial process.
  • Supervise law enforcement staff, such as jail staff, officers, and deputy sheriffs.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology
Hot Technologies are requirements most frequently included across all employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Deal With External Customers — 86% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others — 80% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 85% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 76% responded “Extremely important.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 86% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 82% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 78% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 69% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 67% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 74% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 62% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 68% responded “Very important results.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 62% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 60% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 69% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Electronic Mail — 59% responded “Every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 40% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 38% responded “Every day.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 51% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 48% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Letters and Memos — 47% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Time Pressure — 46% responded “Every day.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 36% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 34% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Consequence of Error — 59% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 46% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 30% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 45% responded “About half the time.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 33% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 28% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 28% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 34% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 37% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 27% responded “Never.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
Education
Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related Experience
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, desktop publishers, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters and simultaneous captioners, and medical assistants.
SVP Range
1-2 years of preparation (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.

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Knowledge

  • Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 40%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 21%
     
    responded: Post-secondary certificate required
  • 17%
     
    responded: Associate’s degree required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.
  • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
  • Dynamic Strength — The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Response Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).

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Interests

Interest code: ERS
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

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Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

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Work Styles

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$31.06 hourly, $64,610 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2021)
684,900 employees
Projected growth (2021-2031)
Slower than average (2% to 3%)
Projected job openings (2021-2031)
58,700
State trends
Top industries (2021)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2021-2031 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2021-2031). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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