What is the Average Salary of a Police Officer?

Police Officer SalaryWhat is the Average Salary of a Police Officer? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a police officer is approximately $58,720, or $28.23 per hour. This number varies widely based on region, years of experience, and other factors. If you’re considering this career, some training beyond high school may be required. Read on to learn more about pay for police officers across the country, as well as the job outlook for this exciting career.

Highest Paying States for Police Officers

There are several regions in which police officers make substantially higher than the national median wage. These include the mid-Atlantic region (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut), Alaska, Illinois, Colorado, and the West Coast (California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada). In these states, the average pay range for police officers is $60,130 – $88,220. The highest paying metropolitan areas for police officers include San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; San Jose, CA; Nassau County, NY; and Edison, NJ. Learn more about regional salaries on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Detectives, who typically work as police officers for a few years before receiving a promotion, make an average of $77,000 per year.

How to Become a Police Officer

While requirements vary by agency, most police officers must be 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Some college coursework, such as an associate’s degree in criminal justice, may be required; even when not required, it can help make you more attractive to employers. Applicants must be in good physical condition and pass physical tests as well as psychological evaluations and background checks. Candidates must also attend the state or region’s police academy, which includes both classroom instruction as well as practical learning on topics like safety and first aid. If you’re not yet old enough to qualify for the police academy, see if your local department has a cadet program, which allows you to volunteer until such a time when you can enter the force.

Related Resource: Become a US Marshal

Job Outlook for Police Officers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is expected to grow by five percent over the next ten years, which is slower than average for all professions. While crime rates are falling, demand for new officers will be driven by the continued need to enforce public safety. Job opportunities will vary widely by state and region, with the best opportunities for officers with a bachelor’s degree and/or military experience. In addition, high-paying jobs are available at the federal and state levels for those officers who qualify. If you have a strong level of empathy, keen decision making and problem solving skills, communication and leadership skills, and physical stamina and strength, you may want to consider a career as a police officer. While the average base salary of a police officer may seem low in comparison to the danger the profession faces, keep in mind that most departments also pay shift differentials and paid overtime, which can make the job quite lucrative.