Step by Step Guide to Become a Sheriff in Indiana

Becoming a sheriff is a noble and challenging career path that requires a unique set of skills and qualifications. In Indiana, the role of a sheriff is vital in maintaining law and order, protecting communities, and ensuring public safety. To become a sheriff in Indiana, one must meet specific criteria and possess the necessary skills to perform the duties of the job. The Indiana Sheriffs’ Association (ISA) plays a critical role in motivating aspiring sheriffs by providing training, support, and guidance.

If you are considering a career as a sheriff in Indiana, you may wonder if you have what it takes to succeed in this field. It takes a particular type of person to become a sheriff, and it requires a unique set of skills, traits, and qualifications.

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To ensure that the goals of the Association are being met, the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association engages in activities such as providing training programs, technical assistance, research facilities, manuals, publications, staff and newsletters. These help sheriffs execute their duties to the best of their abilities, along with providing them organizational guidance.

If you want to become a sheriff in Indiana, you would soon be joining this Association and working in accordance with its mission and vision. To get to that point, however, aspiring sheriffs would have to follow some steps. The information contained in the guide below would be of great help to those who intend on becoming a sheriff in Indiana.

How to Become a Sheriff in Indiana
How to Become a Sheriff in Indiana

Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Indiana

The requirements to become a sheriff in Indiana would largely depend on which county you are applying in. The exact requirements typically vary from county to county but as a general principle, the following might be taken as guidelines:

  • Candidates must be at least 21 years old
  • Candidates need to have a high school diploma or GED
  • Candidates must not have any prior felony convictions
  • Candidates need to be US citizens
  • Candidates should be in a good physical and mental shape

Once you have ensured you fulfill all the basic qualification requirements set forth by your county, you can then move on to the actual hiring process.

Skills Required to Become a Sheriff in Indiana

Becoming a sheriff in Indiana requires a specific set of skills, including:


As a sheriff, you will be responsible for managing a team of deputies and ensuring that they are effectively carrying out their duties. You must be able to lead and inspire your team, communicate effectively, and make sound decisions.

Critical Thinking

Sheriffs often face complex and challenging situations that require quick thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to make decisions under pressure.


As a sheriff, you must be an effective communicator, able to communicate clearly and confidently with your team, colleagues, and the public.

Physical Fitness

Sheriffs often face physically demanding situations that require a high level of fitness and endurance.


Sheriffs must have a high level of integrity, be honest, and maintain the trust and respect of their team and the community they serve.

Top 5 Schools in Indiana That Offer Sheriff’s Training

The following table shows the top schools in Indiana that offer sheriff’s training, including the degrees they offer, courses taught, types of training, skills learned, and duration.

School NameDegrees OfferedCourses TaughtTypes of Training


Skills LearnedDuration
Indiana Law Enforcement AcademyBasic Training, Continuing EducationLaw Enforcement, Tactical Training, LeadershipClassroom, Field TrainingLeadership, Communication, Physical Fitness15-21 weeks
Vincennes UniversityAssociate of Science in Law EnforcementCriminal Law, Criminal Investigation, Forensic ScienceClassroom, Field TrainingInvestigation, Communication, Leadership2 years
Ivy Tech Community CollegeAssociate of Applied Science in Criminal JusticeCriminal Law, Evidence, InvestigationClassroom, OnlineInvestigation, Critical Thinking, Communication2 years
Ball State UniversityBachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and CriminologyCriminal Law, Criminology, Law Enforcement AdministrationClassroom, OnlineLeadership, Communication, Critical Thinking4 years
Indiana University BloomingtonBachelor of Science in Criminal JusticeCriminal Law, Criminology, Law Enforcement AdministrationClassroom, OnlineLeadership, Communication, Critical Thinking4 years

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Indiana

The following information is meant to serve as a basic guideline for sheriff applicants in the state of Indiana. For the exact steps and details, aspiring sheriffs will have to visit the official county websites or their offices.

Step 1: Enroll at a police academy

Before you set on your path to becoming a sheriff, you will first need to become a police officer in Indiana. This is to ensure that you have the proper training and experience to understand the job of a sheriff. A police training academy will help you become proficient in areas such as the following:

  • Use of firearms
  • High speed driving
  • Crime scene management
  • Criminal law
  • Witness questioning
  • Crowd controlling
Step 2: Get law enforcement experience4

To work as a sheriff, you will need some prior work experience in a law enforcement field. Ideally, this would mean working as a police officer for a few years. However, law enforcement experience in other categories (such as working as a judge) might be substituted, depending on your county’s law. Some jurisdictions might require a license or a certificate, in addition to your work as a police officer.

Step 3: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

While this may not be a compulsory component of the procedure, it will certainly help in making your application stronger. Having a bachelor’s degree or even a 2-year long associate degree would improve your job prospects manifold and will also make your potential voters feel more confident in you. With a degree in law enforcement, you would be well-versed in many advanced subjects that will come in handy at later stages, should you get elected.

Step 4: Apply for the office of sheriff in Indiana

Before the actual campaigning and electioneering, you will need to file all the relevant documents with the county’s office. Once this is done, you will need to fulfill a few requirements:

  • Clear a written exam that will determine your writing skills, reasoning and other job-related concerns
  • Clear an interview that will judge your communication skills, logic and reasoning abilities and your motivations for wanting to be a sheriff in the particular county
  • Pass the background check that will check your previous criminal, financial and employment records. This will determine your suitability as a person to be the sheriff.
  • Clear a physical exam that will test your stamina and proficiency in handling arms and ammunition

Specific requirements are subject to vary according to your county, so make sure you do your research meticulously.

Step 5: File the paperwork and start your campaign

If all else goes well, you will be filing your official documents with the county courthouse and starting your election campaign soon. For this, you are advised to put together a team that helps you execute your mission and gets your message across the county. Make sure you have your funds in order before you begin the process.

Step 6: Get elected and take an oath

If you receive the most votes in the election campaign, you will be asked to take an oath of loyalty and begin your four-year term as the sheriff of your county.

How much does a sheriff make in Indiana?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for sheriffs and other law enforcement officers in Indiana was $61,850 in 2021. However, the salary for a sheriff can vary based on several factors, including their qualifications, experience, and the county in which they work.

Sheriffs can advance in the field by pursuing higher education or specialized training, such as a master’s degree in criminal justice or training in forensic science. Additionally, they can take on different roles within law enforcement agencies, such as working in investigations, community relations, or administration.

In Indiana, the career outlook for sheriffs and law enforcement officers is projected to grow by 7% between 2020 and 2030, indicating a stable and growing demand for qualified professionals in this field.

Becoming a sheriff in Indiana requires a unique set of skills and qualifications. By obtaining the necessary education and training, developing critical skills, and gaining experience in the field, you can pursue a fulfilling and rewarding career as a sheriff in Indiana.