Are you passionate about serving your community and upholding the law? If so, a career as a Sheriff in New York may be just what you’re looking for. As the top law enforcement official in the county, the Sheriff plays a critical role in maintaining public safety and ensuring justice is served. But how do you know if you have what it takes to become a Sheriff, and where do you begin your journey? Look no further than the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSSA), which provides a wealth of resources and inspiration for aspiring Sheriffs across the state.

Step by Step Guide to Become a Sheriff in New York

The New York State has a total of 58 sheriffs, all operating under the New York State Sheriff’s Association (NYSSA) since 1934. This Association has been a way for all sheriffs in the state to coordinate and work on their county’s problems in a joint and collaborative manner. Thanks to this, the sheriffs all across the state are able to deliver and perform their duties effectively. The Sheriffs’ Association enables its members to perform better through training programs, public safety programs, legislative advocacy and accreditation.

Featured Programs and Schools

It serves the following purposes:

  • improve the efficiency and capability of Sheriffs to provide better services in law enforcement, corrections, civil law enforcement, court security and the many other areas of a Sheriff’s responsibility;
  • collect, analyze and disseminate important decisions of local, State and Federal courts that may affect the operations of a Sheriff’s Office;
  • appear as amicus curiae in court cases affecting Sheriffs and their constituents;
  • establish standards of excellence and accredit Sheriff’s Offices that meet those standards;
  • assist Sheriffs and counties in their interactions with state and federal agencies;
  • seek grants and non-tax funding sources to assure the delivery of needed programs while alleviating the burden on local taxpayers;
How to Become a Sheriff in New York
How to Become a Sheriff in New York

Requirements to Become a Sheriff in New York

The following state-wide requirements only serve as a general guideline, since they may vary from county to county. For exact requirements, you will have to get in touch with your county’s office or visit their website.

General guidelines on requirements to become a sheriff in New York are listed below:

  • Candidate must be at least 18 years of age
  • Candidate should be a US citizen
  • Candidate should have a high school diploma or GED at least
  • Candidate might be required to be a resident of the county
  • Candidate should have a clean criminal record with no felonies
  • Candidate needs to be in good mental and physical health

Schools, Degrees, and Training Programs for Sheriffs in New York

To become a Sheriff in New York, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and several years of law enforcement experience. However, many Sheriffs also hold a degree in criminal justice or a related field, which can be obtained through various schools and training programs. Below is a table outlining some of the available options:

Type of Program


Associate DegreeCriminal Justice, Law Enforcement2 years
Bachelor’s DegreeCriminal Justice, Forensic Science, Psychology4 years
Master’s DegreeCriminal Justice Administration, Homeland Security1-2 years
Sheriff’s Academy Training ProgramLaw Enforcement Procedures, Leadership, EthicsVaries

In addition to formal education and training, Sheriffs in New York must also undergo regular continuing education to stay up-to-date on the latest laws, techniques, and technologies.

Determining if You Have What It Takes

Becoming a Sheriff requires a unique combination of skills, including leadership, decision-making, and communication. If you’re considering this career path, you should possess the following qualities:

  • Strong leadership skills: As the head of a law enforcement agency, the Sheriff must be able to inspire and motivate others to work together effectively.
  • Sound judgment: The Sheriff must make difficult decisions and take decisive action, often under high-pressure situations.
  • Effective communication: The Sheriff must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with both law enforcement personnel and members of the community.

NYSSA provides valuable information on the requirements and qualifications needed to become a Sheriff in New York.

Steps to Become a Sheriff in New York

If you meet all the above mentioned qualifications, along with the specific requirements of your county, the next thing to do would be to follow these series of steps:

Note: Bear in mind that these steps are not applicable throughout the State of New York. You might want to check the exact procedure with your county office.

Step 1: Graduate from a police training academy and get some experience

To be able to apply for the position of a sheriff, you will first need some relevant experience. The ideal way to go about this would be to work as a police officer in your locality for a few years. The number of years would be defined by your county’s sheriff’s office.  It could be anywhere between one year to 5 years, and even more.

To work as a police officer, you will first need to graduate from a police training academy. This would teach you a number of skills that would be required for you to work as a sheriff. These include the ability to use firearms, control large crowds, understand constitutional law and drive at high speeds, among other things.

Step 2: Consider getting a higher education

Most states would not require you to get an education beyond the high school diploma. However, it would be highly beneficial for you if you invest your time and effort in getting a higher degree, for instance, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or an associate degree in any law-related field. Not only would a higher degree give you a better understanding of criminology, but it would also make you seem like a stronger candidate as compared to others who do not have higher education degrees.

Step 3: Begin running for the office of Sheriff

To begin the process, you will first need to complete a series of steps. These include passing a written examination, an interview, a background check and a physical fitness exam. These application requirements are also subject to change according to your county.

Step 4: File your paperwork and start campaigning

Make sure your paperwork is complete before you officially submit it. After this, you need to start planning your campaign, its activities, the members of the campaign team and the finances associated with it. During this process, you would want to ensure that the voters are well aware of your agenda and plans for your county.

Step 5: Get elected

If you get the maximum number of votes, you will be elected to serve as the sheriff of your county for the next four years (in most counties). Before you assume office, though, you will be required to take an oath of loyalty and sign a contract.

How much does a sheriff make in New York?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2021, the annual mean wage for a Sheriff in New York is $80,590. This figure may vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and education. In addition to their salary, Sheriffs may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation time.

Career Outlook of Sheriff in New York

According to O*Net Online data, employment of Sheriffs in New York is projected to grow 14% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Advancement opportunities for Sheriffs may include promotion to higher ranks within the law enforcement agency or election to higher office. Additionally, Sheriffs may also pursue careers in related fields such as security management, private investigation, or forensic science. With dedication and hard work, the role of Sheriff can provide a fulfilling and rewarding career path for those committed to serving their community.