How to Become a Sheriff in Illinois?

Sheriffs in Illinois are a part of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association – an organization that aims to train and develop Sheriffs, while providing them with the support needed. Initially founded in 1928 as a non-profit organization, the ISA has come a long way in supporting the office of sheriff across counties in Illinois.
If you want to become a part of this organization, you might want to continue reading.

How to Become a Sheriff in Illinois
How to Become a Sheriff in Illinois

Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Illinois

Disclaimer: These requirements vary from county to county. Check your county’s website for a detailed list of requirements.
To become a sheriff in Illinois, you will need to fulfill the basic eligibility criteria. For most counties, the following requirements would be applicable:

  • All candidates must be US citizens. You will not be eligible to apply if you are either not a citizen or are in the process of becoming one.
  • Candidates should be at least 18 years of age. Some counties might set this requirement at 21 or even 20 years, though 18 is considered to be the generally accepted age cut-off. Some counties might even set the upper age limit for Sheriff applicants.
  • Candidates should have at least a high school diploma or a GED. You may opt for a college degree at some point in your career, but having finished high school is the bare minimum.
  • Candidates need to be in a good physical and mental shape. This is important since the job of a sheriff can be very straining. You may want to start working out if you don’t already – this would help you clear the physical fitness exam at a later stage.
  • Candidates should be residents of the county they are applying in. Some counties might even require you to have been a resident for at least a year before applying.

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Illinois

Disclaimer: These steps may vary from county to county. To get a more detailed look into the exact requirements of your county, you can contact your local sheriff’s office.

Step 1: Pass a Police Training Academy:

A sheriff is responsible for the security of his/her entire county and its citizens. The element of responsibility involved in this job is huge; therefore, it is important that you are properly trained for it. Getting enrolled in a police academy is the ideal way to do so. A police training academy would teach you the basics of various security procedures, including the use of firearms, crowd control methods, arresting procedures, constitutional law, and high speed driving, etc.

Step 2: Get Some Experience:

Once you have cleared a police academy, you would have to work as an officer for a few years, before being eligible to apply to become a sheriff. The number of years of experience required would vary from county to county, but mostly it would be somewhere between one year to five years. You may need to obtain additional licensure and certification as well, so make sure you check your county’s exact requirements before applying.

Step 3: Get a Law Enforcement Degree:

While this is not a requirement in most counties, having a higher educational qualification than a high school diploma would give you an edge over your competitors. This would also make the voters feel more confident in your ability to lead and would improve your overall job prospects. Consider finishing a degree in either criminal justice or law enforcement to better equip yourself for the job of a sheriff.

Step 4: Fulfill the Minimum Requirements to apply for Sheriff – Set by the County:

Every county will have its own set of requirements for applicants. You are advised to visit the official county website or the courthouse in your county to get more details on this. As a general matter, the following requirements may be applicable in your county:

  • Clear a written exam that covers written and logical reasoning skills, along with some job specific questions
  • Pass an oral interview that will check your communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills, along with your reasons for wanting to become a sheriff
  • Clear a thorough background check that will check for any felony convictions, bad credit history and traffic violations
  • Pass a physical fitness exam that will check the stamina and proficiency of using various kinds of firearms
Step 5: Submit your Application:

Make sure you have met all requirements and are filing the documents before the deadline.

Step 6: Begin the Campaign for Sheriff:

This is the part of the process which would require the most effort and planning. Make sure you put together a solid team to help get your message across the entire area. Set up media interviews, pass around fliers and put up ads in newspapers and local television channels to talk about your agenda and future plans for the county.

Step 7: Get Elected and Assume Office

If you win, you will be required to take an oath and sign an official contract for a four-year term working as sheriff. Some counties may have smaller terms, but four years is the standard nearly everywhere.

How much does a Sheriff Earn in Illinois?

According to 2017 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers was $73,870, which is a lot higher than the national average of $64,490. So the prospects for law enforcement personnel are looking bright and positive in Illinois.