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, Payscale.com
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.
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Police Officer Training Facts
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Did You Know?
Police Officers By the Numbers
There were about 661,500 police officers, sheriffs, and detectives in 2008.
Almost 9 out of 10 worked for local government. The rest worked for state or federal police agencies.