Criminal Justice School Info

Police Officer Salary

In May 2009 the average police salary was $55,180 annually, according to the Department of Labor Statistics.The lower ten percent compensation for a police officer was about $31,400 annually, and the higher ten percent made about $83,550 annually. In May 2008, the yearly median earnings for detectives and criminal investigators were $60,910.

Police Salary at a Glance

Police Officer Salary Annual Average Salary
Entry Level $30,070 - 38,850
Mid Career Level $38,850 - 64,940
Senior - Seasoned Level $79,680 +

*Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics,

The Department of Labor Statistics also indicates that in 2008 about 883,600 jobs were held by police and detectives, with 79 percent employed by local governments. The demand for police officers increases with population growth, so the amount of available law enforcement positions is expected to continue growing. Because metro areas have larger and denser populations, they often have bigger police forces and higher budgets than small towns. Therefore, not only will there be more law enforcement job opportunities in metro areas, the police officer pay will be more than what smaller towns might offer. Because more crime typically occurs in cities than in rural areas, the demand for working more than forty hours a week is increased; fortunately, police officers and other law enforcement are paid overtime. Overtime compensation raises the potential for law enforcement to earn more, thus making the salaries higher than what is documented.

Employees are also given benefits such as health insurance, sick time, and vacation. Layoff of experienced and trained law enforcement is rare, but if budgets demand layoffs, there are usually jobs available in other agencies. In other words, having law enforcement experience and training makes you less susceptible to unemployment, which is great news in this day and age.

Police Officer Advancement & Promotions

As with most jobs in law enforcement, the norm is to start at an entry level and work your way up in rank and pay. You can begin your law enforcement career either as a cadet if you are under 21, or a police officer if you are 21 or older. After putting in at least three years of exemplary work on the job, you can begin to move up in the ranks. Education and experience are invaluable tools you can use to advance in your career. You can begin as a police officer, seek a promotion to police detective, get police K-9 unit training, or become part of the local SWAT Team. Developing and strengthening skills while you are on the job will be crucial if your seeking promotions within the police department or looking for lateral positions with greater specialization and responsibility.

Most police or sheriff's departments will reimburse you for further investment in your education, as law enforcement departments seek to employ and retain the most highly trained and educated. Those who show promise out in the field are often put on development or succession programs. If you are seeking greater rank and compensation, it is recommended that you continue your formal education as well. A criminal justice degree at the bachelor's or masters level will make you a more competitive candidate for promotions.


Related Police Officer Career Paths

  • Homeland Security FBI Career

    FBI Agents have an important job within the department of Homeland Security. FBI Agents investigate and enforce the domestic laws of the United States.

    Find out more about this rewarding career and learn how to become an FBI Agent.

    Become An FBI Agent »

  • Homeland Security Career - Cybersecurity

    President Obama has pledged to raise cybersecurity as a national-security issue, equal in significance to nuclear and biological weapons.

    A degree in Cybersecurity or Information Security is a first step to this rewarding career.

    Cybersecurity Degree »

  • Homeland Security Careers Air Marshal

    US Air Marshals provide the first line of defense for thousands of traveling airline passengers each day. Air Marshals must be expert marksmen, skilled at self defense, and calm under pressure.

    Learn more about this rewarding career and your education options.

    Become An Air Marshal »

  • Department of Homeland Security


Police Officer Training Facts

How To Become A Police Officer