How to Become DM (District Magistrate)?

DM, whose full form is called District Magistrate, is the supreme officer of the entire district. DM is a high-ranking administrative officer, under whom all the departments of the district come. District Magistrate is also a very popular post in India.

Every year lakhs of aspirants give the civil services exam of UPSC to become DM. But among them, there are very few aspirants who can successfully qualify for the UPSC civil services exam and get selected to become DM.

Are you one of those who want to become a DM? If yes, and searching process to become District Magistrate then you are at the right place. In this article, I will discuss the complete procedure to become DM in a simple way. So, keep reading this article till the end.

There is only one exam, i.e. UPSC Civil Services Exam, through which candidates can become DM and this exam is considered one of India’s toughest exams. It is very difficult to successfully qualify for the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

The candidates who want to become DM have to clear all the stages of the UPSC Civil Services Exam and get a good rank so that they come in the category of IAS because only IAS candidates get the opportunity to become District Magistrate.

Who is District Magistrate (DM)?

District Magistrate is a chief executive officer who is in charge of a district. District Magistrate is also known as District Collector and Deputy Commissioner. He/She is responsible for running the administration of the district. The DM has the role of supervising the subordinate executive magistrate and making magisterial inquiries.

If there is any problem in the district, then it is the responsibility of the DM to fix it as soon as possible. DM is a key officer who gives orders to the chief officers of various departments in a district such as the electricity department, police department, irrigation department, etc.

The DM is assisted by various posts such as SDM, and SDO which come under the lower level of administration like Tehsil, Block etc. Also, the DM practically goes to the various departments of his district to see whether the work is being done properly or not and if any officer is not doing his job properly, then DM also has the power to suspend him. There is a District Magistrate in every district of India and every District Magistrate gets a various number of facilities from the government.

How to Become DM?

There is only one way you can become a DM and that is by clearing the IAS exam and securing a rank in the top 100. The IAS exam is also known as the UPSC civil services exam which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission of India. The UPSC IAS exam is also considered the toughest exam in India.

Candidates have to qualify for all the stages of the UPSC IAS exam and secure a rank under the top 100 because it has been seen that the candidates who rank within the top 100 get a chance to become Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Not only this, after getting selected in IAS, you have to work in the post of SDM, a lower grade than DM because there is no such criterion that after the exam the candidate becomes the DM directly. After serving 6 years (including 2 years training period in LBSNAA), an IAS is eligible to become DM.

Eligibility for DM

Candidates who want to become DM must fulfil these eligibility criteria before applying for the IAS form. The eligibility criteria for District Magistrate are as follows:

Qualification Required for District Magistrate

  • Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university.
  • Candidates must have passed their Bachelor’s.
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of graduation are also eligible to apply for the exam form.
  • Candidates who have completed degrees in the technical stream are also eligible to become DM.
  • Candidates working in any post after completing graduation are also eligible to apply.
  • Candidates from any stream are eligible to become IAS.

Age Limit for District Magistrate

The age limit to become DM varies from category to category as some category candidates get the benefit of caste reservation or other quota relaxation. The minimum age limit to apply the form to become District Magistrate (DM) is 21 years. 21 years or above candidates are eligible to apply for the IAS exam form. The upper age limit for different category students is as follows:

  • General Category:- General category candidates do not get age relaxation so their maximum age limit to become IAS is 32 years.
  • OBC Category:- OBC category candidates get 3 years of relaxation in the upper age limit so their maximum age limit to become IAS is 35 years.
  • SC/ST Category:- SC/ST category candidates get 5 years of relaxation in the upper age limit so their maximum age limit to become IAS is 37 years.
  • Defence Service Personnel:- The maximum age limit for defence service personnel to become IAS is 35 years.
  • Handicapped Person:- The maximum age limit for a handicapped person to become IAS is 42 years.

Total Attempts

CategoryTotal Attempts
Defence Service Personnel9
Handicapped Person9


Candidates must be a citizen of India in order to become District Magistrates (DM).

Physical Requirements for DM

  • Aspirants should have proper vision in the eyes.
  • The heart and lungs of the candidates should be good.
  • The hearing ability of the candidates should be good in both ears.
  • The blood pressure of the candidates should be normal.
  • Only candidates free from any complication of diabetes mellitus will be declared fit for service.

You can check out and download the complete physical requirements to become an IAS officer by visiting this PDF File – Physical/Medical Requirement in PDF Format.

Salary of District Magistrate in India

District Magistrate’s salary depends on many factors like experience, performance, etc. Also, the salary of the District Magistrate may differ in several districts in India. The basic salary of a District Magistrate is Rs.56,100 monthly. Also, apart from a basic salary DM get an allowance like Travelling Allowance (TA), Dearness Allowance (DA), House Rent Allowance (HRA), etc.

This basic salary is given according to the 7th pay commission. The basic pay increases after getting a promotion to the upper post. The highest designation in which a DM can go through promotion is the post of cabinet secretary and the monthly salary of the cabinet secretary post is Rs.2,50,000.

PostYears of ServiceSalary (INR)
Sub Divisional Magistrate1-4 years56,000
Additional District Magistrate5-8 years67,700
District Magistrate9-12 years78,800
District Magistrate13-16 years1,18,500

Grade Pay of DM

A district magistrate gets a grade pay of Rs 6,000 to 10,000 including all benefits from the government.

Grade Pay:- ₹6,000 – ₹10,000.

Exam to Become District Magistrate (DM)

UPSC IAS exam also known as UPSC civil services exam (CSE) is the only examination through which candidates become District Magistrate (DM). It is a national-level exam that is conducted every year by the Union Public Service Commission of India.

Candidates have to fill out the form by visiting the official website of UPSC. Candidates can also check out the notification dates of the IAS exam on the website.


UPSC stand’s for Union Public Service Commission a government body that is responsible for conducting various national-level examinations for the recruitment of many government services posts in various government departments. UPSC also conduct the IAS exam. By qualifying for the UPSC CSE exam, aspirants become officers like IAS, IPS, and IFS. UPSC civil services is a pen-paper mode examination.

UPSC comes under the central government of India and if there is any change to be made in UPSC, then it is in the hands of the central government. If there is any change to be made in UPSC Civil Services Examination, then only UPSC does it. The paper for this exam is available in two languages, one is English and the other is Hindi. Candidates have the option to choose any one language. This exam consists of three stages.

  1. Preliminary (Prelims)
  2. Mains
  3. Interview (Personality Test)

1. Preliminary Exam

Preliminary is the first stage of the UPSC IAS exam. Preliminary is also known as UPSC prelims. The preliminary exam contains only Objective Type Questions also known as Multiple Types Questions (MCQs). The prelims exam comprised two papers – one is General Studies-I and another is General Studies-II (CSAT).

Paper I consist of a total of 100 questions having 2 marks for each correct answer and 1/3rd of marks will be deducted for each incorrect answer. Paper-II (General Studies-II) consist of 80 questions having 2.5 marks for each correct answer and 1/3rd of marks deducted for each incorrect answer. You get 2 hours duration to complete each paper i.e. 4 hours for both papers. The syllabus of each paper is as follows:

Syllabus of General Studies I
  • Indian History
  • Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography
  • Indian Polity and Governance
  • Economic and Social Development
  • General Issues on Environmental Ecology
  • Biodiversity and Climate Change
  • General Science
Syllabus of General Studies II
  • Comprehension
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Analytical Ability
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • General Mental Ability
  • Basic Numeracy
  • Data Interpretation
  • Decision-making and Problem-Solving

2. Mains Exam

Mains is the second stage of the UPSC CSE exam and candidates who successfully qualify for the preliminary exam are eligible to appear in the mains exam. The main exam consists of subjective based questions in which candidates have to write long brief answers.

It contains a total of 9 papers, but only 7 papers will be counted in the final merit ranking. For the other two papers, the candidates should secure minimum marks as prescribed by UPSC. The details of each paper are as follows:

Paper ACompulsory Indian Language3003 Hours
Paper BEnglish3003 Hours
Paper IEssay2503 Hours
Paper-IIGeneral Studies I2503 Hours
Paper IIIGeneral Studies II2503 Hours
Paper IVGeneral Studies III2503 Hours
Paper VGeneral Studies IV2503 Hours
Paper VIOptional I2503 Hours
Paper VIIOptional II2503 Hours
Compulsory Indian Language (Paper A)

This is a language-based paper in which candidates have to choose any one Indian language for this paper. Whichever language the candidate will choose, questions will also be asked in that particular language in this particular paper.

This paper is not mandatory for the people of those states who come from Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya. The type of questions asked in this paper is Essay, Precise Writing, Reading Comprehension, Translation, and Grammar Questions. These are the following languages from which candidates have to choose anyone.

English (Paper B)

It is only an English language-based paper containing a total of 300 marks. The types of questions asked in this paper are passage writing, essay writing, translation, reading comprehension, grammar-based questions, letter writing, etc.

Essay (Paper I)

It is a compulsory paper in which candidates have to write essays on multiple topics. Candidates have to write the complete paper in 3 hours of duration.

General Studies I (Paper-II)
  • Indian Culture
  • Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • Modern Indian History
  • The Freedom Struggle
  • History of the World
  • Colonization
  • Capitalism and Socialism
  • Diversity of India
  • Salient features of Indian Society
  • Developmental issues and Urbanization
  • Social Empowerment and Communalism
  • Secularism and Regionalism
  • Salient features of the World’s Physical Geography
  • Important Geophysical Phenomena
  • Changes in critical geographical
General Studies II (Paper III)
  • Indian Constitution
  • Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States
  • Separation of Power between various organs
  • Parliament and State Legislatures
  • Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries
  • Structure and Functioning of the Departments of the Government
  • Role of Pressure groups and associations in the Polity
  • Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of Various Constitutional Bodies
  • The role of NGOs, SHGs and various groups
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
  • Role of civil services in a democracy
  • Important International Institutions
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • Important aspects of governance
  • India’s relations with its neighbourhood
  • Issues relating to the development and management
General Studies III (Paper IV)
  • Mobilization of Resources
  • Development and Employment
  • Indian Economy
  • Government Budgeting
  • Types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage
  • Public Distribution System
  • Issues of buffer stocks and food security
  • Economics of animal-rearing
  • Food processing and related industries in India
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Land reforms in India
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy
  • Infrastructure
  • Disaster and disaster management
  • Science and Technology Developments
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Types of Security forces and Agencies
  • Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks
General Studies IV (Paper V)
  • Ethics and Human Interface
  • Dimensions of Ethics
  • Human Values
  • Attitude
  • Emotional Intelligence Concepts
  • Ethics in Public Administration
  • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service
  • Probity in Governance
  • Utilization of Public Funds
  • Case Studies
Optional (Paper VI and VII)

There are two papers on the optional subjects. The optional subjects in UPSC exams are as follows:

  • Agriculture
  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Commerce and Accountancy
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Law
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Science
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Zoology

3. Interview

The interview is the last stage of the CSE exam. Only those candidates can appear in the interview round who have successfully qualified in the main exam. The interview contains a total of 275 marks and you get scored based on your performance in the Interview.

The purpose of the interview is to check the Thinking, Situation Handling, Leadership, Patriotism, Knowledge, Skills, Interests, Mental Power, Mental Ability, and so on of the candidates. The higher authorities from UPSC take the interview candidates.

After qualifying in the Interview round, in a short period of time, candidates get their rank when the final results are declared by UPSC. Candidates whose rank is within the top 100 are selected for IAS.

When the candidates are selected for IAS then they are sent to the IAS Training Center LBSNAA for their training. After completing the training period, candidates are ready to be posted in any district for their duty.

How to Prepare for District Magistrate?

  1. Get to know all the details about SDM such as its work profile, power, salary, eligibility to become SDM, exams, and so on before applying for the UPSC IAS exam.
  2. Memories of the complete syllabus of all stages of the UPSC IAS Exam before starting your preparation.
  3. Start your preparation at least 1 year before applying for the UPSC IAS form.
  4. Break the syllabus into parts. So that it will be easy for you to complete the syllabus.
  5. Make a proper timetable for each day and divide your time into specific topics.
  6. Make a habit of making notes on topics that are important for the exam.
  7. Make a habit of reading Newspapers, Magazines, Current Affairs, and Blogs daily.
  8. Revise all NCERT books from class 6 to class 12 for History, Geography and Political Science subjects.
  9. Try to solve at least one set of prelims papers daily and mains paper weekly. As a result, it improves your timing and writing speed. Also, solve previous year’s questions.
  10. You can watch mock interviews of many people on the internet who have become IAS and you can learn a lot from those interviews.
  11. Give several mock interviews before going for the actual interview. Which will increase your confidence.

DM Roles and Responsibilities

  • It is the responsibility of the District Magistrate to ensure that law and order is well maintained in the district.
  • The District Magistrate also has a role to administer the Criminal Court of the Executive Magistrate.
  • The District Magistrate has the responsibility of supervising the subordinate executive magistrate and conducting magisterial inquiries.
  • District Magistrates can also hear cases under the preventive section of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • In case of any natural calamity in the district, the responsibility of disaster management lies with the DM.
  • The DM also gives licenses for arms and ammunition to the people under the Arms Act.

District Magistrate Benefits

  • DM gets a residential house in the district for him and his family to live in.
  • DM also gets the services of a cook, maid, security guard, gardener etc.
  • District Magistrate get one or more vehicles along with drivers from the government for official purposes.
  • DM is a high-profile designation and the sometimes hazardous nature of the job, IAS officers are provided security guards for themselves and even their families.
  • DM gets all kinds of subsidies from the government on all official trips like transportation, accommodation, food, etc.
  • DM also got 2 years of study leave.
  • DM gets a lifetime pension from the government.

Steps to Become District Magistrate

Step 1 – First, candidates have to fulfil all the eligibility criteria that are needed to become District Magistrate.

Step 2 – Then fill up the UPSC civil services exam form by visiting the official website of UPSC (

Step 3 – The first stage of UPSC CSE is the Preliminary exam, to go to the second stage of CSE candidates have to qualify for the preliminary exam.

Step 4 – UPSC mains exam is the second stage of the CSE. Candidates have to qualify for the main exam.

Step 5 – After qualifying in the main exam, candidates move to the third stage which is the Interview. Candidates have to appear in the Interview.

Step 6 – After that, the candidates have to wait for the result to come. When the result will be declared then candidates have to check their results.

Step 7 – If the rank of the candidates is in the top 100 then they qualify for IAS.

Step 8 – If the candidates qualify for IAS, then the candidates are sent for training.

Step 9 – After the completion of the training period, the candidates are ready to join their duties. No candidates are given the post of DM starts, candidates are allotted the post of lower grade than DM such as SDM.

Step 10 – Candidates get promotion to the post of DM after doing a duty of a minimum of 6 years.

Difference Between DM and Collector

District Magistrate (DM)Collector
1. A District Magistrate is an officer who is in charge of a district.1. A District Collector is the highest officer of Revenue Administration in a district.
2. District Magistrate is also known as District Collector or Deputy Commissioner.2. It is known as District Collector.
3. District Magistrate has the power to impose a curfew and section 144 in the district.4. Collector doesn’t have this power.
4. DM has the right to close schools in the district.4. Collector doesn’t have this power.
5. DM has more power than a collector.5. Collector has less power than a DM.

Difference Between DM and ADM

District Magistrate (DM)Additional District Magistrate (ADM)
1. DM stands for District Magistrate.1. ADM stands for Additional District Magistrate.
2. DM is the head administrative officer in a district.2. ADM is the second top administrative officer led by the district magistrate.
3. An IAS officer becomes DM through promotion.3. ADM also becomes only through promotion.
4. The average salary of DM according to the 7th Pay Commission is Rs.78,800 monthly.4. The average salary of ADM according to the 7th Pay Commission is Rs67,700 monthly.

Difference Between DM and SDM

District Magistrate (DM)Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)
1. DM is the senior-most executive magistrate in a district.1. SDM is the head administrative officer in a district subdivision.
2. A district has only one DM.2. A district has more than one SDM.
3. DM is a senior level officer than SDM.3. SDM is a junior level officer to DM.
4. The average salary of DM is Rs.78,000 monthly.4. The average salary of ADM is Rs.56,600 monthly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the salary of the district magistrate?

According to the 7th Pay Commission, the average salary of a district magistrate is Rs. 78,000 monthly.

How long does it take to become district magistrate?

It takes 6 years after the candidate becomes IAS to become the district magistrate.

What to do after 12th to become a district magistrate?

First candidates have to complete their graduation degree in any stream because there are no eligibility criteria in a stream. After that candidates have to apply for the UPSC civil services exam form.

What do you mean by district magistrate?

A head administrative officer of a district in India.

Which exam for becoming district magistrate?

UPSC civil services exam is an examination for becoming a district magistrate.

Can DM officer become a chief secretary?

Yes, a DM officer becomes cabinet chief secretary through several promotions.

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