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How to Become SDM

Update on 2024-04-15

How to Become SDM (Sub Divisional Magistrate) - Check Step by Step Process

Who is an SDM

Who all who wanted to know -How to become SDM, must know who is SDM SDM is an acronym for the Sub-Divisional Magistrate who is considered to be the Chief Civil Officer of a District’s Sub-Division. Just like a state has various districts, a district is also further divided into various Subdivisions.
As in Incharge of a Sub-Division, he is basically responsible to ensure harmony, proper synchronization, and coordination in all the activities and tasks taking place in his particular subdivision. After clearing the UPSC Civil Services Exam, SDM is the first designation offered to an IAS officer at the time of posting. 

In other words, we can simply say that he is just like a mini Deputy Commissioner of his particular Sub-Division in a District. 

He is empowered enough to communicate directly with the government and other related departments on any matter which he/she thinks to be important and he has direct authority over the Tehsildars and their staff. 

Definition of SDM as per Section 20(4) of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

“The State Government may place an Executive Magistrate in charge of a sub-division and may relieve him of the charge as occasion requires, and the Magistrate so placed in charge of a sub-division shall be called as the Sub-Divisional Magistrate

now let's move to the point of How to become SDM or what are the important steps in order to become SDM

What are the steps to become an SDM

  • An important step for those who are all wondering how to become SDM - the candidate has to first Clear 12th and then obtain a Graduation Degree from any recognized Educational Institution.
  • The next step is to appear for the Civil Services Examination conducted every year by a highly reputed organization Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered to be one of the most difficult exams to crack. 
  • When a candidate clears the IAS Examination, the first position given to him is that of a Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM). 

Brief Introduction of the Civil Services Examination organized by UPSC:

The Civil Services Examination is divided into 2 stages:

Civil Services (PRELIMINARY) Examination: It includes Objective Type or Multiple Choice Based Questions. This examination is conducted to select the candidates who will appear in the “MAINS” Examination.  

Civil Services (MAIN) Examination: It includes a Written Examination and a Personal Interview. This is the final stage for the selection of candidates. 

First, the concerned authority i.e. UPSC invites online applications for the Civil Services (PRELIMINARY) Exam only. Only the candidates who qualify for this first stage will have to apply again for the UPSC Civil Services (MAIN) Examination. 


  • There will be 2 compulsory papers of 200 marks each and the duration of both the exams will be 2 hours each. Questions will be objective type based. 
  • In Paper 2, the minimum qualifying marks are fixed at 33% and this paper is qualifying in nature. 

PAPER 1 (200 Marks-2 Hours)

PAPER 2 (200 Marks-2 Hours)



  • General Science
  • Economic and Social Development: Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Poverty, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • History of India and Indian National Movements 
  • Current Events of National and International Importance
  • Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World 
  • Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Political System, Rights Issues, etc.
  • General Issues on Environmental Ecology, Climate Change, and Bio-Diversity- (that do not require subject specialization)
  • General Mental Ability
  • Basic Numeracy (Class X Level)
  1. Numbers and their Relations 
  2. Orders of Magnitude etc.
  3. Data Interpretation (Graphs, Tables, Charts, Data Sufficiency, etc.)
  • Decision Making and Problem Solving
  • Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability
  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal Skills including Communication Skills


The Main Examination will consist of the following papers:


Papers Category  

Total Marks 




(Candidate has to select one of the Indian Language from the total languages included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution)  

300 MARKS 




300 MARKS 





250 MARKS 




(Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society) 

250 MARKS 




(Constitution, Governance, Social Justice, Polity and International Relations) 

250 MARKS 




(Economic Development, Technology, Environment, Bio-Diversity, Security and Disaster Management) 

250 MARKS 




(Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude) 

250 MARKS 




250 MARKS 




250 MARKS 


1750 MARKS 



275 MARKS 


2025 MARKS 

What are the Eligibility Criteria for becoming an SDM

All the candidates you wanted to know "How to become SDM" are required to meet the below-mentioned eligibility criteria for sitting in the UPSC Civil Services Examination:

  • Nationality: The candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • Age Limit
  1. The candidates must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years as of August 2024 i.e. he/she must have been born not earlier than 2nd August 1988 and not after 1st August 1999.  
  2. Relaxation in the Upper Age Limit is also applicable for the below-mentioned candidates:
    • Maximum of 5 years if a candidate belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes;
    • Maximum of 3 years if a candidate belongs to Other Backward Classes (OBCs);
    • Maximum of 3 years in case of Defence Services Personnel disabled in operations during hostilities with any foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a consequence thereof; 
    • Up to a Maximum of 5 years in case of Ex-Servicemen including commissioned officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have delivered at least 5 years of Military Service as of August 2024, and have been released; 
    • Up to a maximum of 10 years in case of 
      1. Blindness and Low Vision
      2. Deaf and Hard of Hearing 
      3. Locomotor Disability including Cerebral Palsy, Leprosy Cured, Dwarfism, Acid Attack Victims and Muscular Dystrophy
      4. Autism, Intellectual Disability, Specific Learning Disability, and Mental Illness
      5. Multiple Disabilities listed above include deaf-blindness.
  • Minimum Educational Qualification

The candidate must possess or hold the degree of:

  1. Any of the Universities incorporated under the act of Central or State Legislature in India 
  • Or, Any of the other Educational Institutions established under the act of Parliament
  • Declared to be deemed as University as per Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956  


Possess any other equivalent Qualification:

d) Physical Fitness Standards 

 Only the candidates who are physically fit as per the prescribed Physical Standards for Admission to Civil Services Examination, 2024 shall be eligible to apply for the Civil Services Examination. 

(All the detailed guidelines related to physical fitness will be given in the Rules for Examination which is published on the official website of UPSC).  

e) Number of Attempts 

Every candidate who is eligible for giving the Civil Services Examination shall be allowed 6 attempts at this examination.   

What is the Role of an SDM

role of SDM is not easy as reading this article-How to become SDM. As rightly said, the role or job of a Sub-Divisional Magistrate in his/her particular sub-division is identical to that of a Deputy Commissioner within his/her District. In all the functional or administrative proceedings, SDM acts as the Deputy Commissioner’s Principal Agent. However, In the case of some crucial and key policy matters, SDM is required to consult and inform the Deputy Commissioner.

He is supposed to inspect his subdivision regularly to act as a watchdog and to keep his/her eyes on all the development activities that are going on in his/her subdivision. 

The duties or role of an SDM can be easily divided into 3 categories:

Judicial Functions 

SDM of a Subdivision may be appointed as the Returning Officer for a constituency during the time of Vidhan Sabha/Lok Sabha Elections.  

Development Functions 

SDM plays a crucial role in the execution and implementation of the rural development programs in his/her particular subdivision, launched by the government for the development and growth of the rural population. 

To ensure the proper functioning of a particular subdivision he/she as SDM is required to strike a healthy balance among the local people, other department officials, local producers, market authorities, etc. 

Revenue Functions

Under the Revenue Related Functions, It is the SDM’s duty to supervise and inspect all the matters in connection to:

  1. Assessment of Land Revenue
  2. Collection of Land Revenue 
  3. Ensuring Systematic coordination within the Officials belonging to the subdivision in the departments like Public Health, Agriculture, Revenue, Animal Husbandry, etc. 

Executive Functions 

SDM is empowered to:

  1. See, Analyse and Ask for any records and registers, kept in the Police Station, which is related to crime
  2. Ask the Station House Officer of a particular Police Station to visit him/her to clear his/her confusion in any related matter or to explain any situation. 
  3. Tie-down or bind any objectionable, offensive, or unacceptable element which is not in favor of the peace and harmony of his/her subdivision.  

Magisterial Functions

SDM is supposed to fulfill the below mentioned Magisterial Functions:

  1. Ensuring cooperation and harmonization with the police in the Subdivision.
  2. To keep a check on the relations among the people from various classes and communities residing in the sub-division.
  3. To take necessary actions or measures in case of any emergency in the subdivision especially on the auspicious festivals.
  4. Wherever required, give Recommendations and Suggestions to the District Magistrate.

An SDM is empowered with enough powers under the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure effective supervision and governance over the law and order situation in his subdivision. 

How is SDM as a Career

An IAS officer starts his career by working as an SDM for a particular Subdivision and then with seniority and experience, he/she moves up the hierarchical ladder and works for districts, capitals, and national capital.  

Once selected, the candidate has to undergo training at LBSNAA (Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration), and then they are sent to various IAS Cadres Regions on a probation period.  The probation period ends after giving an Examination. 

  • To crack the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Service Examination, the candidate requires a dedicated mindset, lots of hard work, and strong willpower. 
  • Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM) is one of the most coveted posts for which every year lakhs of candidates appear but only a very few of them could crack the exam. 
  • This post offers both the Power and Status to the selected candidates. 
  • After becoming SDM, a person enjoys huge respect in society plus the monetary benefits (salary and allowances) are highly lucrative. He/She will get lots of privileges and perks for being an SDM.

The salary of an IAS officer working as an SDM includes Basic Pay+Dearness Allowance (DA)+ House Rent Allowance (HRA)+ Transport Allowance.

The Basic Pay of SDM at Pay Level 10 with 1-4 Years of Service is INR 56,100. 

  • On the Contrary, Being an SDM requires the candidate to stand strong against the ongoing corruption at every stage, a lot of work pressure, and political pressure. However, the candidate can get a chance to service society at large by working diligently at this post. 

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