How to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts?

If you are considering a career as a sheriff in Massachusetts, then you are looking at a highly respected and challenging job. Sheriffs in Massachusetts are responsible for maintaining law and order in their respective counties, overseeing the operation of the county jail, and serving civil process. Before considering this career, it’s essential to know the skills and qualifications required and what to expect. Additionally, understanding the workings of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association can provide valuable insights into the profession.

The Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) is a professional organization that represents the state’s 14 elected sheriffs. It’s the oldest law enforcement association in the country, having been established in 1933. The association provides support and training to sheriffs and their staff, advocates for law enforcement policies, and promotes public safety. Being a part of this association can offer several benefits, including networking opportunities, access to training and educational resources, and a platform to voice concerns and opinions.

Featured Programs and Schools

In addition to these, the MSA also promotes friendly relations among various sheriffs’ offices to develop standardized training, figuring out the best operational practices, providing valuable governance on shared projects and evaluating research and data on projects of mutual concern and interest.

“Ultimately, the MSA works to promote a greater understanding of the matters impacting the sheriffs’ offices and to bring together other law enforcement and criminal justice professionals and practitioners to increase cooperation and demonstrate strategies that can be utilized to improve the public safety of all Massachusetts communities.”
If you want to join the prestigious force of sheriffs operating under the MSA, the following guide on how to become a sheriff in Massachusetts would be of great interest to you. Bear in mind, however, that the following information is largely general, and is applicable across the state. For a more detailed look at the requirements to become a sheriff, you will need to check with your county.

Barnstable County1685210,000
Berkshire County1761130,000
Bristol County1685560,000
Dukes County169517,000
Essex County1643780,000
Franklin County181171,000
Hampden County1812470,000
Hampshire County1662160,000
Middlesex County16431,600,000
Nantucket County169511,220
Norfolk County1793700,000
Plymouth County1685510,000
Suffolk County1643780,000
Worcester County1731820,000
How to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts
How to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts

Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts

To be eligible for the position of a sheriff in any county in Massachusetts, you will need to fulfill the following requirements.

    • You must be a US citizen
    • You must be at least 18 years of age
    • You should have a high school diploma or a GED
    • You should be a resident of the county you intend to become the sheriff of
    • You ought to be in a good physical and mental shape

Additional requirements may be applicable depending on the application procedure of the county you are applying for. Make sure you do your research well before moving on to the steps to become a sheriff in Massachusetts.

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts

Even though the exact process of applying, campaigning and getting elected would vary from county to county, the following steps would give you a good general idea.

Step 1: Enroll in a Police Academy

Being in a leadership position in law enforcement, a sheriff has to take care of a lot of security related tasks. For this purpose, training as a police officer is considered necessary. Some counties might have their own training programs, but most would require you to have finished a formal police training academy course. Upon the completion of this training, you should be able to use firearms, control rowdy crowds, drive at high speeds, understand constitutional law, etc.

Step 2: Gain some Experience

Most counties would require you to have at least 1 year of experience working as a police officer. Some might even need more before you can be eligible to apply for the office of sheriff.

Step 3: Consider a College Degree

While the minimum education criterion is a high school diploma, having a college degree can be a big plus point for you. Not only will this add to your existing knowledge regarding criminal justice and law enforcement, but it would also increase the voters’ confidence in you. Voters are likely to consider you as a more formidable candidate with the ability to lead their county, in comparison to other candidates who do not have college degrees.

Step 4: Meet your County’s Application Requirements

When applying, you will need to meet some county specific requirements as well. These would typically include passing a written exam, an interview, a background check and a physical fitness exam. Make sure you clear all of these before the deadline.

Step 5: File your Paperwork

Once your entire application package is complete, you will need to submit it at your local courthouse, or wherever specified by your county. Make sure all the requirements have been met before you submit it.

Step 6: Begin your Campaign

If all goes well, you will formally start your election campaign. This is the part of the entire process that you will need to plan impeccably. Get yourself a proper campaign team to help you with the fundraisers, media interviews and newspaper ads. It is important that you get your message across to the maximum number of people before the election day.

Step 7: Get Elected and Begin your Term

If you receive the highest number of votes, you will be asked to take an oath of loyalty before you assume office. Your term as the sheriff will last for six years, after which, you may opt for a re-election.

Skills and Qualifications Required to Become a Sheriff in Massachusetts

  • Must be a US citizen and a resident of the county you intend to serve.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Must have experience in law enforcement or corrections, preferably at least ten years.
  • Must pass a thorough background check, including a criminal history check.
  • Must complete a basic training program at the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council (MCJTC).
  • Must possess strong leadership and communication skills.
  • Must be physically fit and able to pass a physical fitness test.
  • Must be willing to work irregular hours, including weekends and holidays.

Schools Offering Sheriffs Training Programs in Massachusetts

School NameTraining Program Offered


Courses/Skills TaughtDuration
Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training CouncilBasic Training Program for SheriffsLaw Enforcement Procedures, Crisis Management, Firearms Training, Defensive Tactics, First Aid, Ethics, and Community Policing12 Weeks

The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council is the only institution that offers a basic training program for Sheriffs in Massachusetts. Becoming a sheriff in Massachusetts is a rewarding and challenging career that requires a combination of education, training, and experience. The Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association provides a supportive network of professionals and resources for aspiring and current sheriffs. If you’re considering this career, make sure to research the necessary qualifications, skills, and training programs available to ensure a successful career.

Career Outlook of Sheriffs in Massachusetts

The O*Net Online data projects a 7% growth rate for the occupation of sheriffs in Massachusetts between 2020-2030, which is similar to the national average. The demand for sheriffs in Massachusetts is expected to be driven by population growth, increasing crime rates, and the need for public safety.

Sheriffs in Massachusetts can also have career growth opportunities by taking on other roles, such as:

  • Chief of Police: With additional education and experience, sheriffs can become chiefs of police in their respective counties or in neighboring towns.
  • State or Federal Law Enforcement Agencies: Sheriffs with specialized training and experience can join state or federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or DEA.
  • Private Security: Some sheriffs may choose to transition to the private security sector and work for corporations or individuals.

How much does a Sheriff Earn in Massachusetts?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage of sheriffs in Massachusetts was $73,560 in 2021. This amount can vary depending on factors such as the county you serve, the number of years of experience, and additional certifications or qualifications. Sheriffs in Massachusetts are typically salaried employees and receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

In addition to salary and benefits, the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association provides several facilities to its members, including access to training and educational resources, discounts on equipment and supplies, and advocacy for law enforcement policies. The association also supports its members through networking opportunities, career development, and addressing common issues affecting sheriffs across the state.