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Career ProfileState Trooper

What They Do

Regardless of location, the primary role of a state trooper is to enforce state vehicular laws and regulations. It’s mandatory that a state trooper fully understands constitutional laws as well as their state’s particular laws. They must also stay abreast of any changes and amendments that occur

Since state troopers patrol the roadways and often encounter reckless drivers or drivers traveling at excessive speeds, it is critical that they are constantly alert and prepared for various scenarios. For example, in the case of suspected drunk drivers, a state trooper must use his or her judgment on whether to give an alcohol Breathalyzer test.

Sometimes state troopers are the first responders at accident scenes; in this case, they must administer first aid and quickly call for emergency assistance. Sometimes a trooper may be responsible for operating emergency equipment to help an injured or trapped person.

Additional duties include:
• Directing traffic
• Issuing citations
• Arresting criminals
• Preventing disturbances and riots
• Relaying evidence to detectives and testifying in court
• Assisting local law enforcement agencies in administrative tasks such as documenting evidence, taking photographs and conducting interviews

Working Conditions

State troopers spend the majority of their shifts working from their patrol car. However, there will be times when they will spend time in police departments or courtrooms. Troopers work full-time and their work is scheduled in shifts so that their patrol area is covered around the clock. While experience and seniority decrease the number of night, weekend and holiday shifts, beginners should expect to work long, and be prepared for overtime.

Similarly to other law enforcement professionals, state troopers encounter dangerous and stressful situations daily. They must keep a cool head to deal with these situations effectively. It is crucial that those interested in becoming a state trooper have sound emotional and mental health and can remain calm under pressure.

Career Growth and Salary Potential

Salaries for troopers vary from state to state, so those interested in becoming one should investigate hiring criteria and pay rates specific to the state where they will work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for police officers is $56,980; this career is expected to grow seven percent by 2020.

Education and Training

Each state is different, but like most careers within law enforcement the minimum education required to become a state trooper is a high school diploma or GED. That said, candidates who hold a B.A. in criminal justice or a M.A. in criminal justice leadership will increase their attractiveness to employers. They will also likely earn a higher salary and have greater opportunities for advancement.

Graduation from police academy is mandatory for troopers. This involves intense physical and mental preparation, and typically takes 12 to 14 weeks. Police academy students take courses in civil rights, traffic control, first aid, self-defense and firearm safety.

Special Skills and Qualifications

No matter where they work, it is required for state troopers to have outstanding driving abilities. It is also important for troopers to maintain the high levels of physical health. Strong written/verbal communication and reporting skills are also a must.