Deputy sheriffs are responsible for enforcing state and local laws with respect to residents' safety and welfare. They investigate crimes, interview alleged suspects and witnesses, maintain evidence files, assist motorists and make life-and-death decisions on city streets. Most work for sergeants or lieutenants in sheriffs' departments. If you want to become a deputy sheriff, you may need a bachelor's degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. In return, you can expect to earn an average hourly wage above $23.
Wages and Qualifications
The average annual wages for a deputy sheriff in the United States was 49,000 in 2013, according to the jobsite Indeed. This equates to $23.56 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. To become a deputy sheriff, you need the minimum of a high school education or GED; however, some sheriffs' departments may prefer that you have a bachelor's degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. You'll also need to complete basic training and pass an exam through your county or state. In Pennsylvania, for example, you'd need to complete 760 hours of training, according to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Basic training, as in police academies, usually covers firearms, self defense, state laws, civil rights and emergency response tactics. Other essential requirements of the job are physical strength and stamina, keen perception, empathy, good judgment, multi-tasking, communication and leadership skills.
Wages by Region
Average hourly wages for deputy sheriffs in 2013 varied somewhat within the four U.S. regions. In the Northeast region, they earned the highest wages of $28.36 per hour in New York and lowest of $20.19 in Maine, according to Indeed. Those in the West made $15.86 to $25.48 in Hawaii and California, respectively. If you worked as a deputy sheriff in Louisiana or Washington, D.C., you'd earn $20.19 or $27.88, respectively, which were the lowest and highest rates in the South region. In the Midwest, you'd make the most in Illinois or the least in Nebraska or South Dakota -- $25.48 or $17.79 per hour, respectively.
A deputy sheriff can earn more as he advances to different pay grades. For example, in 2013 the Johnson County, Kansas Sheriff's Department pays new deputy sheriffs entry-level wages of $18.71 per hour. These officers can earn as much as $33.64 once they attain the highest rank of Master Deputy Sheriff. As a deputy sheriff, you'd also earn more in New York City and Washington, D.C., because of higher living costs in that state and district. If you made $50,000 or $24.04 per hour in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, you'd need to make $55.02 in New York City to maintain the same living standard, according to CNN Money. In Washington, D.C., you'd have to earn $36.03 per hour for the same reason.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects only a 7 percent increase in jobs for police and detectives, including deputy sheriffs, from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than the national growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations. An rise in demand for public safety should increase jobs for deputy sheriffs during this decade. You may also find job opportunities in this field because of a traditional high turnover rate in the industry. Job opportunities are contingent on county budgets, which are the primary employers of deputy sheriffs.