how to become a police officer in Iowa

Table of Contents

3 Red Flags That will Likely Cause an
Agency to pause on hiring you

No (or poor) references

Listing Poor or non-existent reference checks suggest that a police recruit is unable to build rapport with co-workers, succeed in their assigned role, or positively contribute to their former employer.

Job hopping

Any employer will tell you that a string of short term employments on your work history is a big turnoff. If you have one or two short-term jobs, that's normal. But if most of them are less than (6) months, sirens start going off

Posting Drugs Use

Posting pictures of yourself getting drunk and getting high on social media is one way to get kicked out of the selection process. Agencies are looking for candidates with good characters, and posting tasteless photos aren't a good sign.

WATCH: How to Train To Become a Cop

Iowa Police Requirements:

Minimum Qualifications

Disqualification factors to be aware of:


Complete Application Online
Civil Service Test
Physical Agility Test
Written exam
National Police Officer Selection Test (POST)
Oral Board interviews
Background Investigation
Polygraph exam
Psychological evaluation
Medical evaluation
Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA)
Field Training

Police Training Academy Courses


  • Taser
  • First Aid
  • DUI/OWI Enforcement
  • Traffic Enforcement
  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Law
  • search and seizure
  • ethical issues
  • use of force;
  • firearms
  • defensive tactics
  • drug investigations
  • building searches
  • traffic stops
  • mental health
  • accident
  • investigations
  • criminal investigations

Specialized Units in Iowa

Airport Unit
Air Support Unit
Communications (Dispatch)
Community Engagement
Crime Prevention
Elder Abuse
Crime Scene Specialists
Criminal Investigations
Cold Cases
Document & Financial Crimes
Special Victims Unit
Crisis Intervention Team
Diversity Team
Evidence Section
Field Training Officer Program
Forensic Services
Fusion Center
Gang Unit
Work Release
Self Surrender
Information Technology
Internship Positions
Media Relations
Family Violence Unit
Sex Trafficking
Sex Offender Notification
Enforcement & Tracking
Victim Services
Missing Persons
Municipal Security
Off Duty Employment
Organized Crime
Photo Safety Program
Red Light Cameras
School Zone Safety Cameras
Policy & Procedures
Professional Standards (Internal Affairs)
School Resource Officers
Volunteer Program

According to U.S. labor of bureau statistics (2018) the average salary for a police officer in Iowa is...

$ 1 *
Average Salary
$ 1 /HR*

* The base pay above does not Include holiday pay, longevity pay, education level, uniform allowance, shift differential and overtime. Cops can potentially earn more than the figure above suggest.

Average Pay Percentile Breakdown

The percentile wage estimate below is the value of a wage below which  certain percent of workers fall. Data collected from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

10th Percentile
25th Perentile
50th percentile
75th percentile
90th percentile

Find Best Police Jobs in Iowa

Click below to search for police jobs near me in IA. Browse jobs by city/county or zip code


 All peace officers in Iowa must be certified through completion of a training program at an approved training facility but only recruits already hired may attend an academy. Therefore, the first step to becoming a police officer in Iowa is finding a job and meeting state-mandated minimum standards that qualify you to be hired.


 Iowa requires that all police officers in the state be a U.S. citizen and resident of the state or have intention to become a resident once employed. The minimum age to be hired by a police agency in Iowa is 18, and the individual must hold a valid Iowa driver’s license. The minimum education requirement in Iowa is a high school diploma or a GED certificate.

 Additionally, candidates must not be addicted to drugs or alcohol and undergo a background investigation, including fingerprint search of local, state and national fingerprint files. The background check is to verify the individual is of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony.

 Candidates also have to meet some physical standards prior to appointment. Vision must be no worse than 20/100 uncorrected in both eyes and 20/20 corrected and color vision “consistent with the occupational demands of law enforcement.” Hearing must be normal in each ear, and the use of hearing aids are permitted. A medical examination by a physician will be conducted to ensure that physical requirements are met.


 Candidates also will have to pass a physical fitness test, with different standards for male and female candidates. The test will consist of sit and reach, sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5 mile run. Male candidates must achieve 16.5 inches, perform 38 sit-ups and 29 push-ups in one minute, and complete the 1.5 mile run in 12 minutes, 51 seconds.

Females must sit and reach 19.3 inches, and in one minute perform 21 sit-ups and 15 push-ups. Women have 15 minutes and 26 seconds to complete the 1.5 mile run. If you have no idea how to best train for the fitness test, download our Law Enforcement Specific Workout Program for guidance.


 All municipal police officer recruits will receive training and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, except candidate for Cedar Rapids. The city has its own academy, the Cedar Rapids Police Academy.

 Since successful completion of the basic training course at an approved academy is a requirement to become a police officer in Iowa, and since only individuals already hired by a police agency can attend an approved academy, it follows that prospective officers need to contact local police agencies and go through their respective hiring processes.

 Once hired, the agency will sponsor your attendance at the 14-week basic training course. You can find more information about ILEA at


According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics (2010), a police officer in the state of Iowa makes between $43,400 – $48,120 per year. However the data collected by BLS is not very accurate since it does not include overtime pay or off duty details. These two factors, if included in the data, would have increased the average salary of a police officer in Indiana.


There are several law enforcement job openings in Iowa. Simply visit our Job Opening Webpage or go to the official website of the agency you are interested in to complete an application of employment. 

About Iowa State Trooper

The primary mission of the Iowa State Patrol is safety and service to the motoring public. Troopers routinely patrol the state’s 112,770 miles of highways, including the interstates, primary, and secondary highways to fulfill this mission.

With an authorized strength of 439 sworn officers (subject to change), emphasis is placed on enforcement of motor vehicle laws. The State Patrol has state-wide enforcement authority, and therefore may be called to assist during major incidents or occurrences in Iowa – such as prison riots, labor disputes, natural disasters such as tornadoes, and flooding.

In addition to the routine duties associated with its mission of safety and service to the motoring public on the roads and highways of Iowa, the Patrol has developed several specialized areas:

  • Patrol Airwing
  • Technical Accident Investigation & Reconstruction
  • Vehicle Theft Unit
  • Tactical Response Teams
  • Special Education Officers
  • Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program
  • Drug Abuse Resistance Education
  • Communications Operations


Responding to the need for improved communication and more flexible programming, the Patrol has begun the conversion to a PC LAN (Local Area Network) system. All of the State Patrol headquarters have been converted to the PC-based system which will enable interdepartmental transfer of documents and data via the Department’s Wide Area Network system to all divisions of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

As an additional safety advancement, vehicle directional warning lights have been installed on all of the Patrol’s marked vehicles. These light bars provide a safer means of passing hazards along Iowa’s roadways by guiding drivers into non-congested lanes.

The division began utilizing a computerized driving simulator, A.M.O.S. (Advanced Mobile Operations Simulator). This equipment is capable of simulating many different driving situations and weather conditions. It is used at the Department’s Basic Academy as well as well as at annual in-service training for Patrol officers.

In-Car Video Recorders

The Iowa State Patrol has implemented the use of in-car video recorders in Patrol vehicles. The recorders have proven to be valuable tools in the documenting evidence used in court proceedings, ensuring officer safety, and training of officers.

Accident Location Analysis System

ALAS was developed to assist law enforcement in determining where resources should be directed and includes accident information from state troopers, sheriffs and police departments. Officers retrieve information by location or jurisdiction. The Patrol is currently utilizing ALAS information at the division’s headquarters as well as in one of it district offices.


The Iowa State Patrol participates in the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program along with 48 other states under the guidelines of the Federal Highway Safety Administration. Since its inception in May 1992, troopers have received training in level 3 inspections along with their routine assignments.

Level 3 Inspections include:

driver license check
log book inspection
medical record inspection
vehicle registration
equipment inspection
moving traffic violations
Technical Accident Investigation Unit

While all officers of the Iowa State Patrol receive training in the area of advanced accident investigation, there are selected troopers and supervisors in the division who have received extensive training in technical accident investigations – covering such areas as field sketches, scale diagrams, evidence evaluation, mathematical computation, vehicle examination, and seat belt examination. Some troopers have also received additional training to become certified accident reconstructionists. Technical Accident Investigators and Reconstructionists are called upon to conduct expert investigations of traffic crashes involving serious personal injury or death.

Drug Interdiction

Drug interdiction continues to play an important role on Iowa’s highway system. In recent years, the Iowa State Patrol has experienced increases in the numbers of narcotics arrests recorded.


The Patrol’s canine unit assists in the areas of narcotics detection, officer protection, and building searches. The canine unit includes Belgian Malinois, German Shepards, and Dutch Shepards. Each canine is assigned to a specific trooper, and the dog and handler each receive extensive training. The assigned trooper is also responsible for the canine’s continued training and maintenance.

Safety Education Officers

With the idea that education can lead to prevention, the State Patrol’s Safety Education Officers annually present several thousand programs to more than a quarter of a million individuals on different topics.

One program developed by the Iowa State Patrol is “Traveling Alone.” This program was presented at the Uniformed Safety Education Officers Workshop, where it received Honorable Mention for Outstanding Achievement in Safety Education. Brochures for this program have been distirbuted to tourism booths located at Iowa Welcome Centers to aid travelers.

In addition to their regular duties, Safety Education Officers also participate at Sports and Vactions shows, Boy’s State, RAGBRAI, the Iowa State Fair, and numerous health and county fairs. They also work with and support federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with safety education efforts.

D.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education

The State Patrol D.A.R.E. Officers provide instruction in communities with 15,000 or fewer people, who do not have local resources to conduct the program. Some Patrol D.A.R.E. officers are mentors in the program, enabling them to provide instruction to other peace officers at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. In addition, the Patrol has an officer trained as a D.A.R.E. facilitator.

Iowa State Patrol D.A.R.E. officers participate and/or instruct at the following activities:

Twin Lakes Youth Camp
D.A.R.E. Officers Training School
D.A.R.E. Curriculum Recertification School
Iowa D.A.R.E. Conference
Midwest Region D.A.R.E. Conference
Local events statewide

Operating While Intoxicated (O.W.I) Enforcement

The Iowa State Patrol continues to emphasize the importance of reducing alcohol-related accidents. Emphasis is directed to those drunken and drugged drivers on Iowa’s roadways. Enforcement, education and specialized training are part of the Patrol’s efforts to identify and remove the impaired driver from the highways. Recently, there has been a reduction in alcohol related fatalities. During this same time, the State Patrol has increased its number of OWI arrests.


Alcohol Law Enforcement/Retailer Training (A.L.E.R.T.) is designed to reduce alcohol consumption by individuals under the age of 21. Initially developed to help in reducing sales of alcohol by retail establishments to underage persons, the ALERT program is now in its sixth year and utilized in all fourteen Patrol districts.

Occupant Restraints

Iowa law requires the use of seat belts by drivers and front-seat passengers and the use of approved child restraints for children three and under. Iowa is one of only nine states which provide for primary enforcement of occupant restraint laws. The State Patrol places continued emphasis on seat belt and child restraint compliance by motorists. Iowa ranks in the top ten states nationally with a seat belt compliance rate of 73 per cent.


The State Patrol Airwing has implemented the use of an airborne Foward Looking Infrared (FLIR) device. The FLIR provides law enforcement the ability to see in total darkness. The Patrol uses the FLIR for incidents involving fugitive searches, lost person searches, criminal surveillance, and natural disaster photography. Agencies outside of the Department of Public Safety regularly request and receive assistance from the State Patrol’s FLIR-equipped aircraft.

Communications Operations

The Communications Operation of the Iowa State Patrol is a state wide network and provides a communication “lifeline” to all officers of the Department of Public Safety as well as officers of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation. It also provides service to the National Guard and other federal agencies. The State Patrol’s Command Center Trailer provides an on-site emergency communications center for natural and civil disasters.

The communications section also provides maintenance of radio equipment for the department’s personnel. Design, specifications and implementation of mobile and base radio systems is handled by the engineering section.

State Police Job Description

As peace officers with state-wide jurisdiction, the primary job responsibility of a Trooper is enforcement of motor vehicle laws.

Job duties include, but are not limited to the following:
  • enforces traffic laws to promote safety
  • reduce accidents and expedite traffic flow
  • administers medical aid to preserve life, alleviate suffering, minimize injuries, and prepare for transportation to medical facility;
  • responds to and control civil disorders, disturbances, and riots, restoring order, and protecting individuals and property;
  • relays specimens, vital organs, evidence, personnel, etc. in emergency situations;
  • prepares and testifies in court to present the facts surrounding any civil, criminal or departmental action;
  • determines severity, causation factor(s) of accidents by obtaining documenting evidence, conducting interviews and taking appropriate photographs;
Minimum Qualifications Applicant must: 
  • be a citizen of the United States
  • be at least twenty-two (22) years of age at the time of graduation from the Department’s training academy for new recruits
  • possess a high school diploma or a GED
  • be in acceptable physical and mental condition to perform his or her duties under physically demanding conditions
  • specific requirements with regards to vision, hearing, and other medical conditions is required.

List of Police Departments in Iowa

Adair County Sheriff Department
Adams County Sheriff Department
Allamakee County Sheriff Department
Appanoose County Sheriff Department
Audubon County Sheriff Department
Benton County Sheriff Department
Black Hawk County Sheriff Department
Boone County Sheriff Department
Buchanan County Sheriff Department
Buena Vista County Sheriff Department
Butler County Sheriff Department
Calhoun County Sheriff Department
Carroll County Sheriff Department
Cass County Sheriff Department
Cedar County Sheriff Department
Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Department
Cherokee County Sheriff Department
Chickasaw County Sheriff Department
Clarke County Sheriff Department
Clay County Sheriff Department
Clayton County Sheriff Department
Clinton County Sheriff Department
Crawford County Sheriff Department
Dallas County Sheriff Department
Davis County Sheriff Department
Decatur County Sheriff Department
Delaware County Sheriff Department
Des Moines County Sheriff Department
Dickinson County Sheriff Department
Dubuque County Sheriff Department
Emmet County Sheriff Department
Fayette County Sheriff Department
Floyd County Sheriff Department
Franklin County Sheriff Department
Fremont County Sheriff Department
Greene County Sheriff Department
Grundy County Sheriff Department
Guthrie County Sheriff Department
Hamilton County Sheriff Department
Hancock County Sheriff Department
Hardin County Sheriff Department
Henry County Sheriff Department
Henry County Sheriff Department
Howard County Sheriff Department
Humboldt County Sheriff Department
Ida County Sheriff Department
Iowa County Sheriff Department
Jackson County Sheriff Department
Jasper County Sheriff Department
Jefferson County Sheriff Department
Johnson County Sheriff Department
Jones County Sheriff Department
Keokuk County Sheriff Department
Kossuth County Sheriff Department
Lee County Sheriff Department
Linn County Sheriff Department
Louisa County Sheriff Department
Lucas County Sheriff Department
Lyon County Sheriff Department
Madison County Sheriff Department
Mahaska County Sheriff Department
Marion County Sheriff Department
Marshall County Sheriff Department
Mills County Sheriff Department
Mitchell County Sheriff Department
Monona County Sheriff Department
Monroe County Sheriff Department
Montgomery County Sheriff Department
Muscatine County Sheriff Department
O’Brien County Sheriff Department
Osceola County Sheriff Department
Page County Sheriff Department
Palo Alto County Sheriff Department
Plymouth County Sheriff Department
Pocohontas County Sheriff Department
Polk County Sheriff Department
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Department
Poweshiek County Sheriff Department
Ringold County Sheriff Department
Sac County Sheriff Department
Scott County Sheriff Department
Shelby County Sheriff Department
Souix County Sheriff Department
Story County Sheriff Department
Tama County Sheriff Department
Taylor County Sheriff Department
Union County Sheriff Department
Van Buren County Sheriff Department
Wapello County Sheriff Department
Warren County Sheriff Department
Washington County Sheriff Department
Webster County Sheriff Department
Winnebago County Sheriff Department
Winneshiek County Sheriff Department
Woodburry County Sheriff Department
Worth County Sheriff Department
Wright County Sheriff Department
Anamosa PD
Atlantic PD
Belle Plaine PD
Bettendorf PD
Boone PD
Burlington PD
Camanche PD
Cedar Falls PD
Cedar Rapids PD
Clinton PD
Coralville PD
Council Bluffs PD
Davenport PD
Des Moines PD
Dubuque PD
Dysart PD
Fairbank PD
Farnhamville PD
Fayette PD
Grinnell PD
Hiawatha PD
Iowa City PD
Jesup PD
Lisbon PD
Marion PD
Marshalltown PD
Monticello PD
Mount Vernon PD
New Hampton PD
Ogden PD
Palo PD
Pella PD
Shellsburg PD
Shenandoah PD
Souix City PD
Storm Lake PD
Tama PD
Toledo PD
Urbandale PD
Vinton PD
Waterloo PD
Wilton PD