Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor: Career Info & Requirements

Standardized field sobriety test instructor jobs typically require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and examinations to see if this is the right career for you.

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If you are a police officer with an interest in teaching or police education, you could consider becoming certified to teach the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. This involves about 32 hours of instruction, as well as fulfilling the variable requirements of the state in which you work. Different professional associations exist that help certified SFST training officers network and find jobs.

Essential Information

Standardized field sobriety tests help police officers determine whether someone has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A standardized field sobriety testing instructor is qualified and certified to present the standard field sobriety testing course, which teaches officers how to determine whether or not a driver is chemically impaired.

While this job requires only a high school diploma or the equivalent, a candidate must first be employed as a police officer, and then take the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) instructor course and pass certification examinations. This job might appeal to an individual with interests in law enforcement training, police procedure and education.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Additional Requirements Current police officer employment
SFST (standardized field sobriety test) training and certification examination
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for all police and detectives
Median Salary (2015)* $58,320 for police patrol officers
$82,090 for first-line supervisors of police and detectives

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) is the term used to refer to commonly accepted practices for determining whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Depending on local laws, police officers may be required to take SFST training after joining the academy. In some cases, lawyers who specialize in DUI cases may also attend SFST training.

SFST instructors are certified to teach law enforcement officers about field sobriety and the procedures used in the test. Instructors earn certification after completing a training course and passing an examination. Some training jobs are volunteer while others pay by the hour. By networking and joining an association, standardized field sobriety testing instructors have a better chance of finding employment.

Requirements

Certification Requirements

Many SFST instructors begin as Field Training Officers (FTO). An FTO is typically a police officer who has attended Field Training Officer School and becomes certified to instruct new police recruits about policy and procedure. Instructor certification and licensure requirements differ by state and legislation, so potential instructors must check with their local enforcement agency to be sure that all requirements are met.

The minimum educational requirement needed to apply for instructor certification is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Applicants must then enroll in an instructor development course and pass an exam. Certification must be regularly renewed; renewal periods vary by state. Once certified, instructors can join an association such as the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), which allows instructors to network and find teaching opportunities.

Experience Requirements

To become an instructor, candidates must already be employed as a police officer. SFST instructing requires applicants to have already successfully completed the SFST training program and be able to show competency and experience in field sobriety testing. They must then undergo roughly 32 hours of training and pass an examination to become SFST instructors.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary data specifically for field sobriety testing instructors, although it does show that employment of detectives and police officers was expected to increase by 4% during the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, the BLS reported that sheriffs and police patrol officers earned a median salary of $58,320, while first-line supervisors of police and detectives earned a median of $82,090.

In summary, a SFST training officer can become certified if they have a high school diploma, are already a police officer, and have passed the required instructor training program. This job involves teaching other police officers how to administer the standard test for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Other than the training course, requirements to be able to work as an SFST instructor tend to vary by state.

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