The state of Virginia is made up of 95 counties and 38 independent cities. For census purposes, these cities are considered county-equivalents. There are a total of 123 elected sheriffs in Virginia, with the majority of them being represented by the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA). If you want to become one of them, you will have to go through the process described in this guide. Read on to learn more.

Requirements for Becoming a Sheriff in Virginia

To become a sheriff in Virginia, a candidate:

  • Must have attained a minimum age of 18 at the time of applying to become a police officer.
  • Must hold a valid US citizenship.
  • Must have passed high school at least. The equivalent GED (General Educational Development) certificate is accepted as well.
  • Must meet the residency criteria of the county you want to become sheriff in.


*Please be aware that the above-mentioned requirements are generic for Virginia. Individual counties could have slightly differing standards. Therefore, make sure that you have the exact information for your preferred county.

Procedure to Become a Sheriff in Virginia

  1. Start police academy training. Some counties provide sheriff-specific trainings as well.
  2. Gain experience by serving as an officer. All counties have a minimum work experience requirement in this regard. It is at least 5 years in some counties while 1 year is sufficient in others.
  3. It isn’t compulsory but getting a college degree will help you become a sheriff. Candidates with higher educational credentials are considered more appropriate by voters as well. So, if you go for further education, then an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in either criminal justice, criminology, law enforcement, or some related field is recommended.
  4. Meet the basic requirements f your county to run for sheriff. These include passing a written test, interview, physical and medical evaluation and a detailed background check.
  5. Submit all the required paperwork to your county to enter the sheriff elections.
  6. Run your campaign to convince voters to choose you for the office of sheriff.
  7. Win the maximum votes to become sheriff for a fixed period of time. You can run for office again if you want at the conclusion of this term, which is typically four years.

How Much Time Will Be Required to Become a Sheriff in Virginia?

The road to become a sheriff in Virginia will start with police academy training followed by a few years of service as an officer. Different counties in the state have their own work experience requirements for individuals who intend to run for the office of sheriff. So, depending on the criteria set forth by your chosen county, you will be spending anywhere between 3 to 7 years in becoming a Virginia sheriff.

What Is the Compensation Provided to a Sheriff in Virginia?

As of May, 2018, First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives in Virginia earned $94,120 in annual mean wages. This has been reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.