Texas State Troopers are members of the Highway Patrol Division and serve as part of the state’s police agency, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS). Texas State Troopers’ primary function is identical to that of the highway patrol or state police in other jurisdictions. Most of their work involves enforcing laws and maintaining safety on the Lonestar State’s rural highways. Although much of their focus is on traffic and vehicle safety they have arrest authority for any violation of state law.
HOW TO BECOME A TEXAS STATE TROOPER:
Given the high level of responsibility that comes with the job the screening process for prospective Texas State Trooper candidates is extremely rigorous. Not only does the TxDPS require a high school diploma or GED of applicants but they also require completion of 60 hours of college credit (roughly two years). In lieu of college credit, applicants may substitute 24 months of previous military or law enforcement service. In their State Trooper recruiting materials the TxDPS strongly emphasizes that it is necessary to complete these requirements before the application process begins.
Candidates initiate the evaluation process by submitting an application to the TxDPS online portal. Applicants may apply from outside of Texas with the requirement that they travel to the state three times a year during the evaluation process. Once the candidate submits the application, he has 30 days to complete the required written test and physical fitness evaluation. The 30-day timeframe can be waived or extended under certain circumstances with the authorization of a Recruiter or Tester.
If a candidate passes both examinations, the next step is to pass a thorough background check followed by a polygraph examination, drug testing and evaluation by medical and mental health professionals. Since the job requirements clearly specify that successful Texas State Trooper candidates must be ‘of good moral character’ there are a number of automatic disqualifiers at this stage of the process. These include criminal offenses, domestic violence charges, poor driving record, drug use, and a variety of other factors. Candidates must also be at least 20 years old and a legal citizen of the United States. They must also be legally able to operate a motor vehicle within the state.
The Texas Department of Public Safety selects the most competitive candidates and offers them a spot in a 28-week training program at the DPS Academy. This program provides training in law enforcement theory and practice along with physical fitness training. The DPS Academy not only provides an immersive environment for instruction but also serves as a final test of a prospective trooper’s ability to deal with a heavy workload in a stressful setting. After successfully completing this training program, candidates are certified as Texas State Troopers.
The fundamental areas of responsibility for Texas State Troopers include monitoring highway traffic for speeding and other moving violations, investigating traffic accidents and assisting with other public safety and law enforcement duties. The are the primary law enforcement agency protecting travelers on the rural highways throughout Texas.
Texas State Troopers also provide enforcement of commercial carrier regulations within the state including weight and registration. Troopers also provide security at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. They also serve as liaisons with the public providing education on crime prevention and traffic safety. Although their primary focus is on highway and traffic safety they have arrest authority throughout the state of Texas.
Once a prospective Texas State Trooper successfully completes the DPS Academy training program and receives his certification, he becomes a ‘probationary trooper’ earning approximately $39,000 a year. After the end of this twelve-month probationary period, he is awarded the rank of ‘Trooper I’ with a starting salary of $47,200. The pay level for Texas State Troopers increases with greater experience up to ‘Trooper VI’ with a salary of $69,792 a year. Troopers also enjoy a comprehensive benefits package.
The job prospects for aspiring Texas State Troopers are very good despite the highly competitive and rigorous application process. The need for additional manpower continues to grow as does the scope of the agency’s area of responsibility. For a candidate that can qualify for the job and complete the academy, their future in this division of state law enforcement is extremely promising.