How to Become SDM (Sub Divisional Magistrate) in India?

SDM stands for Sub Divisional Magistrate as a Chief Civil Officer of a Subdivision in a District. An SDM is responsible for maintaining law and order in a subdivision. SDM is a civil services job that many people dream of getting into.

Are you one of them? If yes, and want to become an SDM officer. So that searching the procedure becomes SDM then you are in the right place. In this article, I will discuss the complete procedure of how to become an SDM.

To become an SDM, aspirants have to clear all the levels of the UPSC civil services exam. Aspirants have to work very hard to clear this exam because the UPSC Civil Services exam is considered one of the toughest exams in India. By clearing this exam, aspirants also become officers in IAS and IPS. However, the post that the candidates get after clearing all the levels of the exam depends on their rank.

SDM Full Form:- The full form of SDM is Sub Divisional Magistrate.

Who is Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM)?

SDM or Sub Divisional Magistrate is a Civil Administrative Officer who is the head office of a district subdivision. All the subdivisions in a district are under the charge of SDM. Sub Divisional Magistrate is also known as Assistant Collector or Assistant Commissioner in several Indian states.

SDM is a person who is responsible for maintaining law and order in a district subdivision. SDM has the right to verify the work going on in various departments in his sub-division. He/She also makes sure whether the work is done properly or not and if the work is not done well, then the action against all of them is also done by SDM. It is the responsibility of the SDM to verify and pass all the big projects happening in the subdivision.

How to Become SDM?

To become a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), you must have passed in graduation (Any Stream) from a recognized university. After that, you have to apply for the form of an exam called the UPSC civil services exam. You have to sit in all the stages of the UPSC civil services exam and qualify for each of them. After that, you have to fulfil all the eligibility criteria that are required to become an IAS officer i.e. SDM.

When the result is out, you need to qualify for the cut-off rank to become an IAS officer because then you get posted as an SDM. Candidates have to complete a training period of 2 years duration after successfully qualifying for IAS in a premier training institution for civil services called LAL Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) which is located in the city of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. After completing the training period, you are posted to the post of Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in a district sub-division.

SDM Eligibility

Aspirants who want to become an SDM officer must have to fulfil these eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria to become an SDM are as follows:

SDM Qualification

  • Candidates must have held a graduation degree from a recognized university.
  • Candidates who completed their graduation from any stream are eligible to become SDM.
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of graduation are eligible to apply for the UPSC civil exam form.

SDM Age Limit

The minimum age limit to become an SDM is 21 years. Candidates who are 21 years or above 21 years of age are eligible to become SDM. However, the maximum age limit to become an SDM depends on the category to category because some category aspirants get the benefit of caste reservation or other relaxation. The age limit for types of aspirants is as follows:

  • For General Category Aspirants, the minimum age limit is 21 years and the maximum age limit is 32 years.
  • For OBC Category Aspirants, the minimum age limit is 21 years and the maximum age limit is 35 years. OBC category aspirants get 3 years of age relaxation within the upper age limit.
  • For SC/ST Category Aspirants, the minimum age limit is 21 years and the maximum age limit is 37 years. SC/ST category aspirants get 5 years of age relaxation in the upper age limit.
  • For Defence Services Person, the minimum age is the same as above and the maximum age is 35 years. Defence servants get 3 years of relaxation.
  • Disability Aspirants get 10 years of age relaxation in the upper age limit.


Aspirants must be citizens of India in order to become Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDM).

Physical Requirements for SDM

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

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.

Total Attempts

CategoryTotal Attempts
General6 Attempts
OBC9 Attempts
Handicapped9 Attempts

SDM Salary

The salary depends on multiple factors such as experience, work profile, performance, uniqueness, etc. Also, the salary of the Sub Divisional Magistrate varies from state to state. On average in India, a newly recruited SDM gets Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000 monthly i.e. Rs. 6,00,000 to Rs. 7,20,000 annually excluding all allowances and grades.

Average Salary:- ₹6,00,000 – ₹7,20,000 per annum.

Grade Pay of SDM

An SDM gets a grade pay of Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 10,000 including all the benefits that an SDM get from the government.

SDM Exam

UPSC Civil Services is an exam through which candidates become SDM officers. Union Public Service Commission of India conduct the UPSC civil services exam. It is a national-level exam that is conducted every year. Candidates have to apply for the form of this examination by visiting the official website of UPSC. You can also check the exam-related date details on the website. The details of the exam are as follows:


UPSC stands 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. The UPSC civil services exam is one of them through which candidates can become Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), and so on.

Candidates must have to qualify for UPSC civil services exam. The mode of the exam is a pen-paper mode (Offline). You can give this exam in two languages- English and Hindi. The UPSC conduct the civil services exam in three stages:

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

1. Preliminary Exam

Preliminary is the first stage of the UPSC civil services exam. The preliminary exam is also known as UPSC prelims. Prelims comprise two papers – one is General Studies-I and another is General Studies-II. Only objective-type questions are asked in both papers.

Paper I (General Studies-I) consist of 100 questions in total 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 (Paper-I)
  • History of India
  • Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography
  • Constitution
  • Panchyati Raj
  • Rights Issues
  • Public Policy
  • Political System
  • Sustainable Development
  • Social Sector Initiatives
  • Poverty
  • General Science
  • General Issues on Environmental Ecology
  • Bio-diversity and Climate Change
Syllabus of General Studies-II (CSAT)
  • Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability
  • Comprehension
  • Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Decision Making and Problem-solving
  • General Mental Ability
  • Basic Numeracy
  • Data Interpretation

2. Mains Exam

The mains exam is the second stage of the UPSC civil services exam. Candidates can appear in the main examination only if they have successfully qualified for the preliminary examination. The UPSC exam contains subjective types of questions in which candidates have to write the answer in brief.

There are a total of 9 papers in the UPSC mains exam including four General Studies papers, two language papers, one essay paper, and two optional papers which is mandatory. The total marks for the mains exam are 1750. Out of 9 papers, only 7 papers are counted in the merit ranking. The specific details of the 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)

Candidates must have to choose any one Indian language for this paper. The marks obtained in this paper are not counted but determined in the final rank. Candidates need to score at least 25% marks in order to pass this paper. 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 you have to choose anyone.

English (Paper B)

It is also a qualifying paper i.e. this paper is not counted but determined in the final rank. It is a compulsory English language-based paper. Candidates need to score at least 25% marks in order to pass this paper. This paper includes Essay Writing, Precis Writing, Reading Comprehension, and Grammer Based Questions.

Essay (Paper I)

It is an essay writing paper in which you have to write two essays on the given topics. Candidates have to write the complete paper in 3 hours of duration.

General Studies I (Paper-II)
  • Indian Culture
  • Modern Indian History
  • Post Independence Consolidation
  • Reorganization within the Country
  • World History
  • Diversity of India
  • Salient Features of Indian Society
  • Effects of Globalization on Indian Society
  • World Physical Geography
  • Important Geophysical Phenomena
  • Changes in Critical Geographical Features
General Studies II (Paper III)
  • Indian Constitution
  • Parliament
  • State Legislatures
  • Department of the Government
  • Judiciary Ministries
  • Dispute Redressal Mechanisms
  • Role of NGOs
  • Welfare Schemes
  • Issues related to Hunger and Poverty
  • Effect of Policies
  • Management of the Social Sector
  • Important Aspects of Governance
  • Role of Civil Services in a Democracy
  • India and Its Neighborhood
General Studies III (Paper IV)
  • Government Budgeting
  • Land Reforms in India
  • Types of Irrigation
  • Irrigation Systems Storage
  • Public Distribution System
  • Effects of Liberalization on the Economy
  • Indian Economy
  • Food Processing
  • Science and Technology
  • Disaster Management
  • Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security
General Studies IV (Paper V)
  • Ethics
  • Integrity
  • Emotional Intelligence Concepts
  • Role of Family
  • Ethics in Public Administrative
  • Probity in Governance
  • Quality of Service Delivery
  • Strengthening of Ethical and Moral Values
  • Utilization of Public Funds
  • Accountability and Ethical Governance
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

Candidates who successfully clear the UPSC mains exam are eligible for the Interview/Personality Test round. The interview is the last and toughest stage of the UPSC IAS exam because the majority of the candidates do not qualify for the interview stage.

The interview contains a total of 275 marks and you get scored based on your performance in the Interview. The higher authorities from UPSC take the interview candidates. 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.

After that when you got your rank and are selected for IAS then you will be sent for the training period. After the completion of your training period, you are posted as an SDM officer in any sub-division of any state in India.

How to Prepare for SDM Exam?

  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. Make a proper timetable for each day and divide your time into specific topics.
  4. Break the syllabus into parts. So that it will be easy for you to complete the syllabus.
  5. Start your preparation at least 1 year before applying for the UPSC IAS form.
  6. Revise all NCERT books from class 6 to class 12 for History, Geography and Political Science subjects.
  7. Make a habit of making notes on topics that are important for the exam.
  8. Make a habit of reading Newspapers, Magazines, Current Affairs, and Blogs daily.
  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 the 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.

SDM Roles and Responsibilities

  • It is the responsibility of a Sub Divisional Magistrate to maintain law and order in a district subdivision.
  • It is the role of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to verify that no one is committing illegal acts in the subdivision.
  • The SDM has a role in monitoring the implementation of the policies of the State Government and the Central Government in the subdivision.
  • It is the responsibility of the SDM to collect revenue and act as courts in revenue matters.
  • The responsibility for the development of the district sub-division lies with the SDM.
  • It is also the role of the SDM to ensure that all the government departments running in a sub-division are functioning properly or not.

Benefits of SDM

  • SDM get a big house in his allotted subdivision by the government as a residence. They also get the services of Cooks, Security Guards, Gardeners, etc.
  • The SDM gets personal security guards for himself and his family as well.
  • Vehicles are also allotted to the SDM for official functions, that too along with the driver.
  • In most states, SDMs get free electricity, telephone, gas, water, etc from the government.
  • When SDMs come to Delhi for official or non-official tours, they get subsidized accommodation in government guest houses.
  • SDM can also take study leaves for 2 years.
  • SDM get a lifetime pension.
  • SDM get a handsome amount of salary.
  • SDM gets a lot of respect in society.

Steps to Become SDM

Step 1 – First you have to apply for the UPSC IAS form by visiting the official website of UPSC (

Step 2 – After completing your preparation, give the UPSC Preliminary Exam when the Preliminary Exam is conducted.

Step 3 – After that when the preliminary exam results are declared by UPSC then check your result and make sure whether you have qualified for the main exam or not.

Step 4 – When you successfully pass in UPSC preliminary exam then you are eligible to give the UPSC mains exam.

Step 5 – After that give the UPSC mains exam when it is conducted.

Step 6 – After that when you qualify for the main exam then you move to the final stage i.e. Interview.

Step 7 – When the interview is conducted in UPSC Delhi Bhawan, then on that day you have to give your interview by visiting that place.

Step 8 – Finally, when the UPSC results are declared, your rank will decide whether you become an IAS officer or not.

Step 9 – If you qualify for the cut-off to become IAS then it is sure that you become an SDM officer.

Difference Between SDO and SDM

1. SDO stand’s for Sub Divisional Officer.1. SDM stand’s for Sub Divisional Magistrate.
2. SDO uses the power of the “Land Revenue Code”.2. SDM uses the power of “CrPC”.
3. If you are in any government department, you may get promoted to the post of SDO on the basis of your performance.3. You can’t become SDM through promotion.
4. You can become SDO by giving a state PSC examination.4. You can become SDM by giving UPSC civil services examination.
5. SDO is the head of any department in a subdivision.5. SDM is the overall head in a subdivision.

Deputy Collector vs SDM

Deputy CollectorSDM
1. Deputy Collector is an Additional District Magistrate.1. SDM is a Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
2. Deputy Collector is responsible for District.2. SDM is responsible for Subdivision.
3. Deputy Collector is a senior post than SDM.3. SDM became deputy collector by promotion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the salary of SDM?

The average that an SDM get is Rs. 6,00,000 to Rs. 7,20,000 per annum.

Can SDM become DM?

Yes, SDM becomes DM by promotion.

How many SDM is in one district?

It varies from district to district. However, on average three sub-divisional magistrates in one district.

Which rank can an aspirant get into IAS?

In 2019, the last rank of a general category candidate allocated to IAS was 77.

Does SDM get security?

Yes, SDM gets security from the government.

Does SDM get pension?

Yes, SDM gets a pension.

How to become SDM after 12th?

There is no direct process to becoming SDM after 12th. Candidates first have to complete the graduation in their respective stream and after that candidates have to apply for the UPSC civil services form. Candidates have to qualify for every stage of the UPSC IAS exam. After successfully qualifying the UPSC IAS exam, candidates can become SDM.

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