Earning a college degree has long been a sought after accomplishment. It should be as it can make all the difference in ensuring a stable future.

But college isn’t for everybody, and every job shouldn’t require a college degree. That’s why a recent change in an eligibility requirement to become an Illinois State Trooper is wise and necessary.

The ranks have thinned out considerably in the last several years. According to a Chicago Tribune story published last spring, there were 1,794 sworn state troopers on the job in 2018. In 2001, that number stood at 2,201. That’s a decrease of nearly 20 percent.

Several factors have contributed to the dip, spending cuts and a wave of retirements being chief among them. One result of the decline can be noticed by anyone who drives Illinois’ interstate highways.

“You used to be able to drive from Chicago all the way down to St. Louis on Interstate 55, and you couldn’t go 10 minutes without seeing an Illinois State Police trooper doing their job on the side of the road,” ISP Director Brendan Kelly said earlier this year. “And that has changed, after years and years and years of neglect.’’

Now, you can drive hundreds of miles without seeing a trooper. This invites recklessness, and the union which represents state police contends reckless driving played a role in three troopers being killed on duty earlier this year.

To help stem the tide, state police are now dropping the requirement that mandates a bachelor’s degree for employment. Now an associate degree, such as the type that can be earned at Kankakee Community College, will be a minimum requirement, as will the accumulation of 60 college credit hours.

This opens up an opportunity for a whole lot more people. With a base salary of nearly $61,000, these are career jobs. Those who pursue them can advance individually while also making state residents more safe. That’s something we can all get behind.

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