Police Officer Salary: What You’ll Earn

A Career as a Police Officer in the Criminal Justice System Can Offer Promising Earning Opportunities

Everyday, police officers across the country work to make their communities safer. If you aspire to provide this same service while earning a fair salary, a police officer career is an excellent option. With a median annual salary of $63,380, this career offers an option for a generous income without needing to complete many requirements. In fact, some individuals become police officers with only a high school diploma. To find out more about this exciting and lucrative career, continue reading to learn about a police officer’s salary.

How Much Do Police Officers Earn?

Like any career, many factors affect a police officer’s salary. Although every case presents differences, completing further education has its advantages and could help prospective law enforcement officers land a job more easily.

While a college degree isn’t necessarily required to enter a career as a police officer, it can help propel your career forward. A resume that lists experience in the criminal justice field or a degree in a related field may catch employers' eyes, but people can still earn a great wage without extensive higher education.

Police officers work in settings other than a city’s police force. Some police officers find employment through public school or universities providing security, while others work as state troopers that patrol highways.

Cities with a high population density have a larger job market for individuals pursuing a police officer career, but as population increases, so does job competition.

Although every neighborhood needs police assistance at times, some areas require a larger police presence than others. Cities with a high population density have a larger job market for individuals pursuing a police officer career, but as population increases, so does job competition.

Making a commitment to one career field has its advantages, as those who remain at a job longer possess more opportunities to earn a raise or promotion. Although a person's first career rarely remains their last, finding a job in a place you want to be for a long time will allow you to advance more easily.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median annual salary for police officers was $61,380 in May 2018. The top 10 percent earned $101,620, and the lowest 10 percent earned $35,750.

What’s My Earning Potential as a Police Officer?

The following list shows average salaries for police officers at different points in their careers. How much police officers make depends on many factors, but experience plays a large role. A professional in an entry-level law enforcement career can earn a respectable $45,139 annually, while late-career police officers could receive close to $70,000.

Average Pay by Experience Level for Police Officers
Entry Level (0-12 Months) $43,000
Early Career (1-4 Years) $46,000
Midcareer (5-9 Years) $52,000
Experienced (10-19 Years) $60,000

Source: PayScale

How Do Police Officer Careers Compare to Other Criminal Justice Careers?

Aspiring professionals torn between pursuing a career as a police officer or other law enforcement careers must consider earning potential. The following chart displays five other prominent careers in the criminal justice field and possible median annual salaries.

Pay varies depending on many factors, but the chart below provides a good idea of what to expect. A police officer salary ranks above most other criminal justice-related careers and features a steady projected growth rate. A police officer career clearly stands out as one of the best-paying and most reliable jobs in its field.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Corrections Officers and Bailiffs $43,510 -7%
EMTs and Paramedics $34,320 15%
Police and Detectives $62,960 7%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $53,020 6%
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers $28,530 6%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Take the Next Step in Your Police Officer Career Today

Now that you know more about a police officer's earning potential and job responsibilities, consider whether or not a law enforcement career would serve as a good fit for you. With the job field consistently growing at about 7%, now is the perfect time to begin looking into the criminal justice field. Using the following link, learn more about a police officer career and the next steps to take to begin your new job.

Learn More About Police Officer Jobs

Take the first step in pursuing your passion for law enforcement

Explore More Careers in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

You can certainly earn a job in the criminal justice field that doesn't involve patrolling city streets. Using the links below, explore more criminal justice positions as well as degrees that can jumpstart a career in this growing field.