how to become a sdm officer

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Government jobs are the dream of many aspirants. One such reputed government job is SDM. It is one of the esteemed job positions that many aspirants are looking for. But it needs a lot of hard work and dedication to crack the UPSC Examination. So, in this blog, let us explore about who is SDM Officer, what are his roles and responsibilities, how to become a sdm officer, the eligibility criteria, entrance examinations, etc. 

Who is an SDM Officer? 

The full form of SDM is Sub-Divisional Magistrate. SDMs hold the most entry-level positions in the IAS. Their duties help them maintain the state’s law and order in a precise and effective manner. As a sub-divisional magistrate, you have some major responsibilities and roles. Sometimes, sub-divisional magistrates serve as head offices for district subdivisions. This administrative office is sometimes below the level of the district, depending on a country’s government structure.

Local public and state government authorities are continually in contact with sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs). To keep track of and monitor the welfare and management policies, it is crucial to keep a close eye on them. Sub divisional magistrates oversee the development, welfare, and growth of sub divisional districts.

How to become a SDM OfficerEligibility Criteria

Nationality – The Aspiring candidate must be a citizen of India in order to become Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDM).

Educational Qualification: To become Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), you must have passed graduation (Any Stream) from a recognized university. If you are in the final year of your graduation, then you can also apply for the same.

Entrance Examination:

You can become Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in two ways:

  1. Through Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
  2. Through State Public Service Commission, often referred to as State PCS

Through UPSC – You have to qualify the UPSC Civil Services Exam.
An IAS officer is placed as a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and it is the 1st posting of an IAS officer after the probation period at the Sub-divisional level of a district.

Through State PCS – The aspirants must qualify the PCS of the State and must get in the top ranks to secure the post of an SDM.

Age Limit

Let us look at the age limit for becoming SDM officer

  1. Through UPSC
  1. The candidate eligible for the exam should be at least 21 years of age.
  2. The maximum limit for the examination is up to 32 years as on 1st August 2020.
  3. The relaxation for the SC/ST candidates is five years. Thus, the maximum limit extends to 37 years.
  4. Three years of relaxation for OBC, and the age limit is relaxed up to 35 years.
  5. Three years of relaxation for a person in defence services who cannot fulfill the operation with any foreign country.
  6. Five years of relaxation for veterans, which includes commissioned officers, ECO’s/SSC’s Atlas of 45 years of military service as on 1st August 2020 and have been released.
  7. Ten years of examination for handicapped, blind, deaf, a person with autism, any other intellectual disability, locomotor disability, and multiple other disabilities.
CategoryMaximum Age LimitRelaxation in Age
General32 yearsNo Relaxation
OBC35 years3 years
SC/ST37 years5 years
Defence Personnel37 Years5 Years
Persons with Disabilities42 years10 Years

Number of Attempts

Maximum of 6 attempts are given in General category. Attempts for other categories are listed below:

CategoryMaximum Number of Attempts
SC/STNo limit till 37 years of age
Handicapped ( General and OBC)9
Handicapped (SC/ST)No limit

2. Through State PCS

The age limit for State PCS exams varies as per different state norms and regulations.

Roles and Responsibilities of an SDM officer

The SDM takes a close look at complaints and grievances of local citizens within that district and, if necessary, takes appropriate measures to address them. The sub-divisional officer must coordinate with the divisional offices’ head officials and departments. In the district, the SDM is responsible for overseeing the revenue management and activities of the subdivision.

During natural calamities, riots, pandemics, etc., the sub divisional magistrate is responsible for monitoring preparations, management, supervision, and rehabilitation control. SDM is generally an officer of state civil service. Sub-Divisional Officers are responsible for overseeing the affairs of each sub-division. As Deputy Commissioner of the subdivision, he/she is a miniature version of the real one. He competently corresponds directly with the government and other departments on routine matters.

Among his duties are executive, magisterial, and revenue-related. His executive duties include maintaining law and order, developing local bodies, assessing motor taxes, issuing passports, renewing arms licenses, Sub divisional establishment, etc. As Sub-Divisional Magistrate, he enforces security measures to maintain Law and Order. 

He exercises judicial powers under certain sections of the preventive chapters of the code of Criminal Procedure. In such cases, the District and Sessions Judge has the power to appeal the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s decision. In the revenue matters, he is Assistant collector Grade I., but under certain Acts, the powers of collector have been delegated to him. According to this section, the district magistrate is the superior authority in India’s legal system. Sub-divisional magistrates oversee law management in the district in which they are posted. Conducting the differentiation and alteration of revenue.

Functions of SDM Officer

The primary functions of the sub-divisional magistrate are- 

  • Attending the revenue cases
  • Maintaining and management of land records
  • Prime custodian of the public land
  • Operating as the settlement mediocre
  • Functions in the Magisterial Department: In the magisterial department, the sub-divisional magistrate is responsible for conducting the prevention under the code of criminal acts. It is the prime function where they empower their role over executive magistrate. In the magisterial department, a sub-divisional magistrate can set an effective inquiry over the unnatural death of women before the police record and assist in the police inquiry for deaths in police lock-ups and jails. Sub-divisional magistrates are responsible for submitting descriptive reports to the government during natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes, riots, or fire incidents.
  • Catastrophe Management: The sub-divisional magistrate is responsible for the public’s safety and security during any disaster or calamity, for providing rehabilitation and relief to the public, for disaster management, and spread awareness during any catastrophe. The sub-divisional magistrate’s responsibility is to monitor the preparations and disaster management facilities.


To conclude, IAS officers’ primary responsibility as sub-divisional magistrates provides them with a basic understanding of the administrative system from the ground up. SDMs are responsible for their districts’ development and welfare programs due to their roles and powers. The SDM is responsible for assisting the district magistrate with clerical work and other operational management and control duties. Depending on the situation, he can order arrests, investigations, tear gas, and curfews in the district. 

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