Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff

Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff

What is a Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff?

A sheriff is an elected law enforcement officer who will serve a term of service that is usually four years long. Deputy sheriffs work under the sheriff to enforce federal, state, and local laws within their jurisdiction. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs typically work at the county level, in smaller departments than what police officers serve in. 

A sheriff, at the top of the county’s law enforcement department, handles both patrol and administrative duties. This professional is responsible for handling essential paperwork such as warrants and citations. The sheriff oversees department funding, supervises activity in the county jail, provides training, develops guidelines and procedures, and performs disciplinary actions for those in his or her department. Sheriffs will also take emergency calls, deploy the deputy sheriffs in their jurisdiction, and provide their own services within the county, such as patrolling the area, controlling car accident scenes, and more. 

A deputy sheriff doesn’t have the leadership and management responsibilities of a sheriff. This individual does more hands-on work in the community. This may include providing community education, arresting offenders, or testifying in court. Deputy sheriffs are also responsible for a certain amount of paperwork, as they must document their activities and complete the necessary reports for tickets, arrests, and other actions.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Enforcing court orders 
  • Seizing property 
  • Responding to vehicle accidents 
  • Acting as a first responder to medical emergencies 
  • Providing assistance in emergency weather situations 
  • Serving court summons 
  • Assisting with search and rescue missions 
  • Investigating suspicious or illegal activities 
  • Monitoring their patrol area and providing a presence that deters illegal activity 
  • Verifying legal changes filed against law offenders 
  • Logging daily activities 

What is the Job Outlook for Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  

About 64,500 openings for police and detectives are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.  

A desire for public safety may result in a need for more officers. However, demand for employment is expected to vary by location, driven largely by local and state budgets. Even when crime rates fall, demand for police services to maintain public safety is expected to continue.” 

As sheriffs are elected, one must also consider his or her public presence for an opportunity to earn this position. Sheriffs typically serve a term of four years.

Where Do Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Work?

Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs are typically employed at the county level. Their jurisdiction covers the entire county, which may include several cities or towns. In very small cities where there is not a larger police department in service to the city, the sheriff and deputy sheriffs may also serve the city in addition to the county. However, city law enforcement is usually provided by police officers rather than sheriffs.

What Training is Required for a Job as a Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff?

Training for a position as a deputy sheriff varies by jurisdiction. Most require a minimum of a high school diploma, with higher degrees preferred. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs must be at least 21 years old with a clean criminal background. Agencies usually operate their own training academies for new hires, which will provide specialized training for a number of months before the deputy sheriff can begin work independently. 

You can improve your employability in this competitive field with a related degree such as the AAS Criminal Justice Studies degree from Bryant & Stratton College. Major requirements cover security in the 21st century, justice information systems, security administration, the science and practice of criminal investigations, and more. This will give you a solid background that can greatly improve your chances of getting a job as a deputy sheriff. 

To become a sheriff, you must campaign in the next election in the jurisdiction where you want to work. A solid background in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff, police officer, or other professional experience will give you a great advantage when you’re running for a position as sheriff.

What Can I Do with My AAS Criminal Justice Studies Degree?

An AAS Criminal Justice Studies degree will prepare you for a variety of positions in law enforcement, on the county level as well as city or state-wide jurisdictions. If you’re looking for a career as a deputy sheriff or something similar, consider these job titles in your search. 

  • Civil division deputy sheriff 
  • Civil process server 
  • Bailiff 
  • K-9 deputy 
  • Security guard 
  • Sheriff’s deputy 
  • Loss prevention detective 
  • Sheriff’s officer 

Additional Training/Requirements

Students interested in the Criminal Justice Studies Associate Degree program must first successfully complete the Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma. Completion of either or both programs does not guarantee a student has met all the requirements for employment in the criminal justice field. The Bryant & Stratton College’s programs are educational programs and the college makes no representations regarding whether a particular program will qualify a graduate for employment in any specific position, is necessary for attaining any such position or whether potential employers may require additional training or education.* Before enrolling in a program, potential students are encouraged to consult any relevant agency with which the student may wish to seek employment for a complete list of position requirements and pre- requisites. All applicants should be aware that criminal justice employers may consider numerous factors when determining eligibility or suitability for employment including but not limited to: criminal background screening, citizenship, state residency, physical and psychological health, age and military discharge information. A criminal conviction and or record of certain other conduct may prevent or hinder a graduate’s employment as a law enforcement officer or other positions in security, corrections and others depending upon the requirements in various jurisdictions. 

*Virginia residents should be aware that neither program will provide the required training for entry level positions in law enforcement, corrections, armed security, certain unarmed security and other careers requiring certification, licensure, or registration with the Virginial Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Students who complete these programs in Virginia will be required to obtain certification through DCJS- approved training facilities to meet minimum requirements for those positions. 

For more insights into the field of criminal justice, check out our blog section on criminal justice studies. You’ll find information on the best courses of study for a future in this area, as well as detailed information on the job opportunities you might explore.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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