The Texas Rangers have a mystique all their own. Whether watching roundhouse kicks by Chuck Norris on the television series Walker, Texas Ranger or reading about the adventures of Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call in Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove series of books, many people have grown up with a sense of awe around the Texas Rangers.
The Texas Rangers have morphed over time since their formation by Stephen F. Austin in 1823. They began as a small group who came together to protect their fellow colonists. Today’s Texas Rangers are an elite law enforcement unit who lead criminal investigations in the following areas: major crimes, unsolved crimes, serial crimes, public corruption, officer involved shootings and border security.
The Texas Rangers are a division withing the Texas Department of Public Safety. Of the division’s 216 employees, 150 are commissioned peace officers. DPS does little recruiting for ranger positions. They often have more than 100 applicants compete for a handful of vacancies.
The Selection Process:
Ranger positions are only open to current DPS troopers who have achieved the rank of Trooper II. Applicants must hold a valid and unrestricted Texas driver’s license. Applicants are investigated to ensure that they “reflect good moral character and habits,” the Texas Rangers website says.
Ranger applicants are given a written exam. Those with the highest scores progress to a panel interview. Selections are made by the panel.
The Education and Experience You Need:
Since those applying to become rangers must be currently employed as a DPS trooper, the minimum requirements to become a trooper apply to the Texas Rangers. Troopers must be at least 20 years old.
They must also have either 90 semester hours of college credit or three years of military or law enforcement experience. Individual rangers have varying levels of education.
Applicants for the Texas Rangers must have eight years of experience in law enforcement for an organization whose principle function is investigating crimes. Service as a military police officer does not count toward this requirement.
What You'll Do:
The primary function of the Texas Rangers is investigating crimes, so no matter what you do or how high you climb in the hierarchy, every ranger is involved in criminal investigation.
The Rangers have several special specialized teams and units to deal with specific situations that come up in criminal investigations:
- Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit
- Ranger Reconnaissance Team
- Special Response Teams (SRT)
- Crisis Negotiation Teams (CNT)
- Border Security Operations Center (BSOC)
Outside the state capital, Austin, the Texas Rangers have six field offices located in Houston, Garland (in the Dallas-Fort Worth area), Lubbock, McAllen (in the Rio Grande Valley), El Paso and San Antonio.
What You'll Earn:
Because the Texas Rangers are a small group and because there are several levels within the organization, it would not be meaninful to state a specific salary range for rangers. DPS troopers make just under $40,000 during their probationary period. Beyond that time frame, troopers typically make between $47,000 and $62,000. Therefore, Texas Rangers make around $50,000 at the low end of the organization. Given the high level of experience required to be a Texas Ranger, many rangers’ salaries far exceed that.