Career Overview: State Trooper

What They Do

State troopers monitor local and state roads and enforce laws on those routes. They also help when vehicles are involved in accidents or when motorists are having trouble with their vehicles. State troopers may drive or ride in either marked or unmarked cars or on motorcycles. State troopers adhere to the vehicular laws and regulations of the state for which they work. Daily tasks include directing traffic, issuing citations, arresting individuals who have broken laws and assisting drivers and passengers who have been injured. They may also be asked to help other local law enforcement officers and agents to aid in investigations and pursuits.


Like most law enforcement agents, a state trooper’s duties focus on enforcing laws and promoting safety. They are responsible for documenting evidence, conducting interviews and following the regulations according to criminal investigations. At the scene of an accident, a state trooper may be called on to administer first aid, radio for emergency equipment and use the equipment once it has arrived. The chief aim of a state trooper should be to ensure the safety of the roadways and the people traveling on them. These professionals are also sometimes referred to as highway patrol officers.

Career Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the job growth for police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers will be at a slower-than-average pace over the next few years. The competition for positions within state and local police departments may be more aggressive because of this. However, those individuals wishing to pursue this kind of career may consider earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice to be a more attractive job candidate.

Salary Potential

The median salary for law enforcement officers like police officers, state troopers and sheriff’s patrol officers is around $56,000. This pay is based on their state of residency and seniority. Each state has its own pay rate and particular job description for the different rankings of state troopers. The highest salaries for state troopers are in New Jersey, California and Alaska.


The education requirements for state troopers vary from state to state. However, most positions require a minimum age as well as specific kinds of training and physical capabilities. Many must go through a 12- to 14-week training program called an academy. In the academy, recruits receive training related to the physical, mental and emotional sides of this career path. Subjects such as civil rights, first aid, self-defense, use of firearms and physical education are all covered in these kinds of programs.


Although the education requirement for most law enforcement entities typically is a high school diploma, some departments prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, for example, is an appropriate field of study for an individual wishing to become a state trooper. In an undergraduate criminal justice degree program, students learn about subjects such as the criminal justice system, sociology, law and more.