How to Become a Police Officer in Vermont
Vermont is a small state, being the second least populated state in the United States. This beautiful New England state, with its rural ambiance, has opportunities for law enforcement careers in city police departments, county sheriff offices and with the Vermont State Police. The unemployment rate in Vermont is lower than the rest of the country at 3.2 percent.9 People seeking police jobs in Vermont will find fulfilling and exciting career opportunities here.
Vermont Police Officer Requirements
The Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council (VCJTC) establishes statewide standards for officer certification and training. All recruits must obtain certification from the VCJTC. The VCJTC runs the Vermont Police Academy and the basic training program for new peace officers. While each agency may set their qualifications, the basic requirements set by the state are as follows:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or G.E.D.; although a college degree may not be required, it is strongly encouraged by many agencies.
- Pass medical and psychological examinations
- Pass a thorough background check
- Obtain a score of at least 70 percent on the written entrance exam
- Pass the physical fitness assessment
Vermont Police Officer Testing
Police officer testing in Vermont, as in most states, consists of several steps. These steps may take a few months to complete. Each agency may have variances or perform the steps in a different order.
The written exam is 100 multiple-choice questions.4 It covers math, judgment, reasoning, report writing, vocabulary and reading comprehension.4
Physical Fitness Testing
The Vermont Police Academy uses the standards set by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research.5 The entrance standard for the academy is the 40th percentile based on age and gender.5 Upon graduation, recruits are expected to perform at the 50th percentile.5 The test consists of sit-ups, push-ups, a 1.5 mile run and a bench press. Anyone wanting to become a law enforcement officer in Vermont is urged to check the requirements of the specific departments, as these are the minimum required to get into the academy, and some departments may have higher standards.
All candidates must pass a physical exam within six months of entering the police academy.5 This comprehensive examination must be performed by a licensed physician or P.A. to determine that a recruit doesn’t have any disability or disease that would interfere with physical performance.
All prospective police officer candidates must be psychologically fit for working in law enforcement. Part of assessing suitability is using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) psychological assessment. This lengthy questionnaire requires a psychologist to go over the answers to determine suitability for working as a law enforcement officer.
Outlook for Police Jobs in Vermont
Projections show that the occupations of police and sheriff officers in Vermont will grow by seven percent from 2014 to 2024.3 This field shows an average of 50 annual job openings.3
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for police and sheriff officers is $46,950 with an average hourly pay of $22.57.8
Police Departments in Vermont
Vermont is largely rural with towns and countryside. There are several local law enforcement agencies in the state. Burlington is the state’s largest city.
The Burlington Police Department
The police department in Burlington serves approximately 40,000 residents, as well as the students attending the University of Vermont and other local colleges. The Burlington Police Department takes a community-based approach and seeks candidates who are excellent communicators and creative problem solvers.1 Applicants must meet the requirements for law enforcement officers set by the VCJTC.
Those interested in being a part of the Burlington Police Department must submit a city employment application, personal history information questionnaire, copy of their birth certificate, documentation of their highest level of education, proof of legal authorization to work in the United States, list of references, a current photograph and a notarized signature.
The Burlington Police Department offers its officers competitive salaries and complete benefits packages. There are also plenty of options for specialty assignments within the department. Some of the opportunities are in the canine unit, the detectives division, the honor guard, or bike patrol and motorcycle patrol.
County Sheriff Departments
Vermont only has 14 counties; much of the area covered is rural. Each county has a sheriff’s department that patrols and enforces laws within the county. Although each department has authority to establish its own requirements for new hires, all new recruits must meet the minimum standards that the State of Vermont sets and meet certification requirements established by the VCJTC.
Chittenden County is home to Vermont’s county seat, Burlington. It is the most populous county in the state and is served by the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements established by the VCJTC.2 Candidates must go through a complete background check. Those who have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude will be excluded. Applicants must submit their fingerprints to the FBI and the Vermont Criminal Information Center for a criminal record check.
Along with a completed application, those pursuing employment as a deputy must fill out a medical questionnaire and submit a photo of themselves that is less than six months old, a copy of their birth certificate, documentation of their highest level of education and documentation of all names used.2
Vermont State Police
The largest law enforcement agency in the state is the Vermont State Police. The Vermont State Police is a full-service law enforcement agency. They provide primary law enforcement services to 200 towns and about half of the state’s population.10 There are several specialty units within the department that troopers may look forward to joining, like the Search & Rescue Team, Tactical Services Unit, Crisis Negotiation Unit, Bomb Squad as well as other special assignments.
The minimum requirements for being a Vermont State Trooper are:12
- Be at least 20-year- old at time of application
- Must pass vision screening
- Must have normal hearing
- Must have high school diploma or equivalent
- If prior military service, must not have been dishonorably discharged
- Be registered with the Selective Service System (male candidates)
- Be a resident in Vermont by the end of training
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Must not have any tattoos, piercings or other body art that is visible while wearing short sleeve uniform
- Not have been convicted of a felony
- Pass physical fitness assessment
The process to become a trooper has five phases.11 Phase one consists of the written test, physical fitness test and a MMPI psychological inventory. The written test is a multiple choice and covers general knowledge. A Score of at least 70 percent is required to move on to physical fitness test. The physical fitness assessment covers sit and reach flexibility, bench press, sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. The minimum standards use the 50th percentile set by the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research. The MMPI psychological inventory has true/false questions and takes about 60-90 minutes. The answers are reviewed by a psychologist to establish suitability for employment as an officer with the Vermont State Police.
Phase two is a hiring panel interview in front of three commanders of the Vermont State Police. The panel looks at a candidate’s reasoning, problem solving, leadership, achievements, decision making ability, interpersonal and communication skills. Knowledge of the job and Vermont State Police are important. Phase three consists of a polygraph, while phase four is the background investigation and medical exam. Finally, phase five is a meeting with the director.
New recruits must attend the Vermont Police Academy for basic training, and then must attend additional training specific to being a state trooper prior to being certified.
Police Academies in Vermont
The Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford, Vermont provides training for all new police recruits in the state. All law enforcement professionals within Vermont receive training through the academy overseen by the VCJTC. In order to attend the academy, one must be sponsored by a law enforcement agency. The academy Level III Basic Training academy is required for all full-time peace officers.7 It is 16 weeks long. Training includes classes on criminal law, self-defense, conflict resolution, crisis intervention, community policing, investigative procedures and motor vehicle law.
Vermont does offer certification for part-time police officers.6 Many local police departments have budgetary issues that prevent them from hiring many full-time positions. So, several agencies have part-time opportunities. Part-time officers received Level I or Level II certification from VCJTC.6 Anyone interested in becoming a part-time officer must apply through a local department, with that agency determining if the applicant should participate in the entrance examination process.
- Burlington Police Department: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/police/careers
- Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office: http://www.chittendencountysheriff.com/
- Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections:http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- State of Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Entrance Standards and Testing Dates:http://vcjtc.vermont.gov/training/three/entrance-standards
- State of Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Frequently Asked Questions:http://vcjtc.vermont.gov/resources/faq
- State of Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Level I and II Basic Training:http://vcjtc.vermont.gov/training/one-and-two
- State of Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Level III Basic Traininghttp://vcjtc.vermont.gov/training/three
- United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm
- United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Vermont:http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.vt.htm
- Vermont State Police: http://vsp.vermont.gov/
- Vermont State Police, Applicant Process: http://vsp.vermont.gov/employment/process
- Vermont State Police, Eligibility and Basic Requirements:http://vsp.vermont.gov/employment/requirements