Police salaries: A guide

Police salaries vary according to the location and the governmental agency for which officers work, but overall pay is generally average to slightly above average

Police salaries are important to think about if you're considering a career in law enforcement. You should begin by investigating police salaries in the various localities and agencies that they serve.

Police salaries vary according to the location and the governmental agency for which officers work, but overall pay is generally average to slightly above average than it is for most jobs in the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average police salary as of 2008 was $51,410. About 50 percent of officers earned between $38,850 and $64,940. The lowest police salaries were around $30,070, and the highest were about $80,000 annually.

Police salaries in federal Homeland Security positions were the highest at an average of $68,000. State government wages came in at $57,270 and local government salaries were $51,020.

Throughout the law enforcement industry, the highest wages were paid to supervisors, detectives, and police chiefs. Median salaries of detective supervisors are $75,490, with the lowest workers paid $46,000 and the highest at $114,300.

When considering police salaries, it's important to take into account perks, like overtime, benefits and pensions. Federal police receive much more generous health insurance and pension benefits than any other law enforcement personnel. in positions where you're expected to work many hours of overtime – such as Federal officers also receive LEAP (Law Enforcement Availability Pay) which is essentially overtime for special assignments that require longer hours.

Detectives in particular earn significant amounts in overtime pay because of the extended hours they work.

Other benefits that should be taken into account with police salaries are whether or not the agency will pay for additional training and coursework if officers want to go back to school and further their education in law enforcement work.

Police salaries in the field of fish and game officers ranged between $30,400 and $50,440 annually.

Parking enforcement police wages are the lowest in the field at an average of $32,390 annually. Transit and railroad police came in at a median rate of $46,670.

Police salaries are expected to grow at a rate that's slightly above average. As of 2008, there were 883,600 jobs in law enforcement in the U.S. Roughly 80% of those jobs were with local governments. State police agencies employed about 11 percent. Most police jobs are in cities with populations over 25,000. Small towns usually have less than 25 police officers.

Police salaries increase with promotion and officers usually become eligible to move up anywhere from six months to three years after entering the force. In bigger police departments, officers often move up to detective work or other specialties that rate a higher pay grade. Getting promoted to the higher positions of sergeant, lieutenant, or captain involves moving up the ranks one rank at a time.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

About the author

"Become a Cop" articles are intended to educate individuals interested in law enforcement careers about what it takes to join the force. These articles are written by PoliceOne staff members and PoliceOne contributors, and cover a wide range of topics from the basics on the different types of law enforcement careers to how to prepare for the police recruitment interview. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered, or are interested in writing for Become a Cop, email editor@policeone.com.

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