The modern law enforcement officer we know as a sheriff is also civilization's oldest law enforcement officer. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, King Alfred the Great divided the country into shires, with "rieves" to oversee them. The word "sheriff" is a contraction of the term "shire reeve," and since Old English times, sheriffs have been faithfully enforcing the law. The role of 21st century sheriffs may have changed since 1066, but the job qualifications and requirements are still many.
Modern Sheriff's Departments
U.S. sheriffs are frequently the chief law enforcement officers within their counties, though not always. Depending on the U.S. county, a sheriff may also have political and ceremonial duties and, alone among law enforcement officers, is also an elected official. Also, some states have basic law enforcement education and training requirements for elected sheriffs, while others don't specify any. Generally, though, almost every modern-day sheriff and deputy sheriff in the U.S. has some level of law enforcement training.
Deputy Sheriff Careers
Sheriffs require deputies to help them fulfill their duties, and modern deputy sheriffs are sworn law enforcement officers. Requirements and qualifications to become a deputy sheriff are similar to becoming a police officer. Generally, to become a deputy sheriff you must be at least 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED certificate plus be of strong moral character and have no felony convictions. Deputy sheriff applicants also undergo background investigations and usually must attend or already possess sheriff's academy training.
Deputy Sheriff Training
Depending on the size of the county, the sheriff's department may or may not have its own academy training course. Large U.S. counties, such as California's Los Angeles County, regularly recruit for deputy positions and offer their own training. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, for example, offers applicants career choices with their own training tracks, including patrol or custody management in its jailhouses. If you're contemplating a career as a deputy sheriff, check with your county's department for its training and education requirements.
Deputy Sheriff Salaries
As of 2010, there were nearly 3,100 sheriffs in the U.S., each with a department or law enforcement organization to run. There are also three U.S. states that don't have a sheriff system -- Alaska, Hawaii and Connecticut, which has gone to a state marshal system. As of 2011, deputy sheriffs earned a median wage of $54,230 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like other law enforcement positions, though, the job of deputy sheriff is also a hazardous one.
- Orange County Sheriff's Office: History of the Sheriff
- National Sheriffs' Association: FAQ
- DegreeTree: How to Become a Deputy Sheriff
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 33-3051 Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police and Detectives
- Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: General Dual Track Career Path Information for Prospective Applicants
- Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images