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A gun, a car, and $52,000 await if you have what it takes to be a state trooper

They're fit, sharply dressed, and have starting pay north of 50k: Just a few of the reasons being a trooper totally rocks.

They're fit, sharply dressed, and have starting pay north of 50k: Just a few of the reasons being a trooper totally rocks.

Does your job suck? Do you think the cut of your jib would look good in maroon and khaki? Do the words "free car" make you smile? 

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, perhaps being a Minnesota State Patrol trooper is your new calling.

You don't even need previous experience in law enforcement to apply. A two- or four-year college degree will suffice if you'd like to join the troopers, who are way more than glorified traffic cops. 

"Sometimes there's a misconception that we're just traffic-oriented," says Lt. Tiffani Nielson, a 12-year veteran of the Minnesota State Patrol. "And that is a big part of what we do: traffic enforcement, arresting DWI drivers, responding to crashes, reconstructing crashes. But we do have a lot of [different kind of assignments] within our agency."

Those gigs include providing security for the governor and visiting dignitaries like the president. They also conduct forensics at crash scenes and do search and rescue missions in helicopters and planes belonging to the only police agency in the state that has its own air wing. If that doesn't scream adventure enough, there's a troopers' SWAT team. 

The 86-year-old agency is looking to hire about 50 people annually over the next three years. Besides a starting yearly salary of about $52,000, troopers score killer benefits and get to drive their squad car home every night.  

"There's so many opportunities within this organization to do different things," Nielson says. "… I think there's folks out there who have thought about law enforcement, but maybe have a degree in accounting or are already working in that field. Sometimes it's hard to just change careers because you think you have to go back to school. This is an opportunity for those folks that have thought about it, but haven't been able to make that career change yet."

The State Patrol Law Enforcement Training Opportunity program is that pathway for people who've dreamt of being a cop, but haven't yet lived it. The application deadline for nontraditional candidates is June 14.