Career Guide: State Trooper

Sometimes known as highway patrol officers, state troopers provide crucial services and protection. While police officers work for specific city and county jurisdictions, state troopers work at the state level, patrolling federal highways and property, in addition to working in cooperation with city and county police. State troopers patrol interstates and highways, ensuring the safety of drivers, assisting in emergencies, and responding to highway accidents.

Working as a state trooper is a great option for those interested in a worthy, fulfilling career in police and law enforcement. This guide explores what state troopers do, how to become one, and the job and salary outlook for these law enforcement officers.

What Does a State Trooper Do?

State troopers provide a unique connection between local police and federal authorities in order to assist in various kinds of criminal investigations, particularly those that cross jurisdictional lines. State troopers often spend most of their time patrolling state roads and highways and state-owned land. Additionally, state troopers may handle the protection of state officials, such as governors and others in high ranking positions.

State troopers patrol interstates and highways, ensuring the safety of drivers, assisting in emergencies, and responding to highway accidents.

In their cross-jurisdictional position, state troopers often investigate serious statewide crimes, including wide-reaching drug rings and trafficking. Despite serving as a distinct self-contained operation, state troopers work closely with city and county police. State troopers offer local police services and access to special equipment in addition to specially trained units and task forces.

State troopers serve important roles at the local and state levels, carrying out a wide variety of crucial tasks and protections on a daily basis. You can learn more about what state troopers do on the State Trooper Job Description page.

State Trooper Job Description

How to Become a State Trooper

Steps For Becoming a State Trooper

Step 1:

Learn more about the profession to determine whether it suits your career goals and lifestyle.

Step 2:

Earn a degree in criminal justice or a related field or gain the necessary experience. While not mandatory, a bachelor’s degree can give you a significant advantage in the job market.

Step 3:

Find open positions in the field and ensure you meet eligibility criteria, which may include a background check.

Step 4:

Enroll in and complete the required training academy, which includes physical fitness tests and written examinations.

Step 5:

Complete required extra state trooper training prior to beginning your career in the field.

To learn more about degree options for state troopers and the general criminal justice system, you can review the following pages:

State Trooper Salary and Job Growth

Becoming a state trooper or similar law enforcement official offers the potential for a comfortable living wage, with possible salary growth contingent on experience. According to data from PayScale, state troopers earn an average salary of $54,834, with the potential to earn up to $78,000 in their late career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for police and law enforcement will grow by 7% over the coming years. You can learn more about what state troopers earn on the State Trooper Salary page.

State Trooper Salary

Take the Next Steps

Now that you know more about what a career as a state trooper entails, you can consider the next steps toward entering this exciting field. The links below offer more information about earning a degree to kickstart your career.

Criminal Justice Degree & Career Information

Check out this page to learn more about criminal justice degrees and the careers you can pursue with these credentials.

Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement

A bachelor’s degree in law enforcement can help you get the education you need to pursue a career as a state trooper.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations provide a great resource for students in criminal justice and law enforcement programs, offering opportunities for networking, continuing education, professional conferences, and access to special job boards. Many organizations also exist for those working in the field, offering unique and professional support systems for law enforcement and police officers.

The organizations and resources below can provide some further insight into becoming a state trooper or other law enforcement officer and may also offer unique opportunities for law enforcement and criminal justice students to supplement their degree.

  • Alpha Phi Sigma This organization acknowledges the achievements of undergraduate and graduate students in criminal justice programs. Members may also attend a yearly conference and apply for scholarships and grants.
  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences This professional organization aims to further research and scholarship opportunities in criminal justice fields. Aspiring state troopers may benefit from attending the yearly meeting and accessing the employment board.
  • American Association of State Troopers AAST aims to connect state troopers across the nation, providing support, scholarship opportunities, and fundraising assistance. Members receive a variety of benefits, including a wellness stipend to use at a fitness club.