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Deputy Sheriff: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Find out what deputy sheriffs do. See what the education and training requirements are. Learn about career prospects and earning potential to see if this job is right for you.

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Career Definition

The primary role of a deputy sheriff is to ensure law and order, and work to prevent crime. More specifically, a deputy sheriff is responsible for patrolling assigned areas, investigating reported crimes, and answering requests for service. Operating in these capacities, a deputy sheriff will make arrests, interview witnesses and victims, question suspects, collect and file evidence, and testify in court. A deputy sheriff is typically employed at the county level.

Become a Deputy Sheriff

Educational Requirements

The minimum necessary education to be employed as a deputy sheriff is a high school diploma (or equivalent GED). Depending on your state or county, there will likely be a civil service exam you'll need to pass in order to gain admittance to the training program for deputy sheriffs. A 2-year associate's or 4-year bachelor's degree program or certification from a vocational training school, especially in a field like criminal justice, law enforcement and administration, or behavioral science, will improve your desirability in the eyes of employers for this position.

Skills Required

To become a deputy sheriff, you'll be given a background check and physical test. You shouldn't have any felonies or misdemeanor convictions, and you should be in good physical shape and health in order to pass tests for hearing, vision, agility, and strength. Good team work skills, sound judgment, and strong interpersonal skills will also serve you well as a deputy sheriff.

Career and Economic Outlook

Data from May 2012 shows that deputy sheriffs had a median annual salary of $55,270, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, Employment in this field is expected to grow at a below-average rate of 6% from 2012-2022. Job applicants with military experience, work experience in law enforcement, or a relevant educational background will have the best opportunities.

Alternate Career Options

Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are dispatched through 911 calls for medical help. They provide first-on-the-scene assistance to sick and injured people, such as controlling bleeding or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). EMTs are also trained and qualified to transport people to the hospital and report to doctors and nurses on patients' condition to that point. Licensing and certification requirements apply for employment as an EMT. Aspiring EMTs need to have a high school diploma and CPR certification. They must complete a 1-2 year training program to qualify for the required national certification exam; ambulance driving training may also be required. The BLS reports that jobs in this field are expected to increase 23% from 2012-2022. In 2012, EMTs earned median pay of $31,020.


A firefighter uses specialized knowledge, training, and tools to respond to 911 emergency calls for assistance. In addition to fighting the fire itself, firefighters rescue people trapped by fire and administer first aid. Firefighters may also provide aid in other emergency situations, like accidents. Firefighters with hazardous materials training may respond to oil spills. Firefighters typically need to be at least 18, have a high school diploma and a driver's license, and pass a physical exam. New firefighters attend a training academy and may also be required to earn EMT certification; state firefighter certification requirements may also apply. Jobs for firefighters are predicted to increase 7% from 2012-2022, per the BLS, and firefighters earned median pay of $45,250 in 2012.

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