Tennessee | Becoming a TN Police Officer

Working as a police officer can be a very exciting and rewarding career, but it may also be very demanding and intense. If you are a resident of Tennessee and want to work as an officer there, you should be aware of the things which Tennessee police departments expect to see in job applicants (which are outlined  below). If you meet the base expectations, you can then proceed by completing an application for your police department of choice. The department will review all the applications and choose who is going to move forward. If chosen, you must then proceed through a lengthy hiring process. Step one after applying is completing a written exam and a test of your physical abilities. After passing this portion with a competitive score, you may move on in the process to the next steps which include a background check and preliminary interview. If these are passed you may have a final interview prior to being offered a position and admitted to a Tennessee police academy.

Requirements for Working in Tennessee as a Police Officer

The requirements for police officers in Tennessee are very similar to many other US states. Tennessee police officer must be:

  • At least 21
  • In possession of a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • A legal American citizen
  • A High School graduate or have a GED

Memphis requires candidates to have at least 54 college credit hours, but may wave this if a person has a certain number years of military service. Some areas of Tennessee have specific hearing and sight requirements while others don’t. Check with your local police department  or the one you want to apply to, then find out exact requirements.

Salary for Tennessee Police Officer Jobs

The average salary of a Tennessee patrol officer is about 40,000 a year. Remember, however, that officers in large cities make much more than officers in rural areas. The above average is a state average, so depending on where one works they could be making more than the average or less than the average. The range is roughly between 32,000 a year and 47,000. Level of education can also make a difference in salary. Those with a law related degree may earn more. Those who work as detectives and also those who are criminal investigators may make up to 48,000 a year.

Law Enforcement Programs in Tennessee

Although it is not required in all of Tennessee, having a degree makes an individual applying for a police department much more valuable in most cases. Having a degree in specific area (such as forensic science) may make a person a more desirable candidate. Therefore, it might be adventitious to pursue a college degree after high school, prior to applying to a department. Below is a list of some schools in Tennessee which offer law enforcement programs.

  • Bethel University

325 Cherry Avenue, McKenzie, TN 38201


  • Cleveland State Community College

3535 Adkisson Drive, Cleveland, TN 37320


  • Columbia State Community College

1665 Hampshire Pike, Columbia, TN 38401


  • Cumberland University

1 Cumberland Square, Lebanon, TN 37087


  • Daymar Institute

Locations in Clarksville, TN / Murfreesboro, TN / Nashville, TN

  • Dyersburg State Community College

1510 Lake Road, Dyersburg, TN 38024


  • East Tennessee State University

1276 Gilbreath Drive, Johnson City, TN 37614


  • Freed-Hardeman University

158 E Main Street, Henderson, TN 38340


  • ITT Technical Institute

Locations in Chattanooga, TN / Cordova, TN / Knoxville, TN / Nashville, TN

  • King University

1350 King College Road, Bristol, TN 37620


  • Lane College

545 Lane Avenue, Jackson, TN 38301


  • LeMoyne-Owen College

807 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN 38126


  • Martin Methodist College

433 West Madison Street, Pulaski, TN 38478


  • Middle Tennessee State University

1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132


  • Nashville State Community College

120 White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37209


  • Remington College

2710 Nonconnah Blvd., Memphis, TN 38132


  • South College

3904 Lonas Drive, Knoxville, TN 37909


  • Southwest Tennessee Community College

5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134


  • Tennessee State University

3500 John A Merritt Blvd., Nashville, TN 37209


  • The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403


  • The University of Tennessee-Martin

554 University Street, Martin, TN 38238


  • University of Memphis

3720 Alumni Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152


  • Volunteer State Community College

1480 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN 37066


  • Walters State Community College

500 South Davy Crockett Parkway, Morristown, TN 37813