Police salaries: A guide

Police officer salaries vary according to the location and the governmental agency for which officers work


Police salaries are important to think about if you're considering a career in law enforcement.

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.

You should begin by investigating police salaries for the agencies in the various localities where you would like to serve.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average police salary as of 2019 was $65,170.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average police salary as of 2019 was $65,170. (Pixabay)

What is the Average police salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average police salary as of 2019 was $65,170. About 50% of officers earned between $45,740 and $81,730. The lowest police salary was around $35,750, and the highest was about $101,620 annually.

Police salaries in the field of fish and game officers ranged between $50,000 and $86,000 annually. Most fish and game officers are employed at the state level.

Parking enforcement police wages are the lowest in the field at an average of $33,500 annually. Most parking enforcement officers do not have to complete a police academy course and do not make arrests or carry firearms. Transit and railroad police came in at a median rate of $71,120.

How much money do Federal police officers make?

Federal special agents for the FBI and other investigative agencies average $85.765. Federal agents receive special Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) and locality pay that varies with the geographic area where the agent is assigned. LEAP generally adds 25% to the agent’s base pay, and locality pay can add 16% to 25%. State government law enforcement wages came in at $40,000 to $89,000 and local government police salaries ranged from $36,000 to $92,000 per year.

What do Police supervisors earn?

Throughout the law enforcement industry, the highest wages were paid to supervisors, detectives and police chiefs. The median salaries of detective supervisors are $103,500, with the lowest workers paid $52,320 and the highest at $146,580.

do police promotions increase salaries?

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.

Police overtime pay, benefits and pensions

When considering police salaries, it's important to take into account police overtime, healthcare, sick time and vacation benefits, and police pensions.

Federal police receive much more generous health insurance and pension benefits than any other law enforcement personnel. Police officers usually work on holidays and have the option of receiving extra time off credits or overtime pay on those days. There may be other incentive compensation for fluency in a foreign language, holding an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, and attainment of special training certificates.

Detectives in particular earn significant amounts in overtime pay because of the extended hours they work. Uniformed patrol officers earn overtime pay for cases that require working past their usual off-duty time and for appearing to testify in court.

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.

Will police salaries increase?

Police salaries are expected to grow at 5%, faster than most other occupations. As of 2020, there were 813,500 jobs in law enforcement in the U.S. Roughly 80% of those jobs were with local governments. State police agencies employed about 11%. Most police jobs are in cities with populations over 25,000. Small towns usually have less than 25 police officers.

Reference

Occupational Outlook Handbook. Police and Detectives. Bureau of Labor Statistics

This article, originally published on 10/28/2011, has been updated. 

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