The average salary of police officers in the U.S. lies in the range of $50,000. However, there are several factors that can affect an individual’s specific salary. Depending on the position held, and the branch of the police you choose to enter, the range can be as wide as $30,000 on the low end and over $100,000 for higher levels of seniority such as a police chief.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The middle 50 percent earned between $38,850 and $64,940. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,070, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,680. Median annual wages were $46,620 in Federal Government, $57,270 in State government, $51,020 in local government and $43,350 in educational services.” In most places in the U.S. a family can live very comfortably on these salaries, including buying their own homes.
Please reference this page for full statistics on police officer salaries.
The ranges of the different positions can be attributed to the budget of the agency, the individual qualifications of the officers and the workload that the officers are required to handle. In addition to a market rate salary, police officers receive additional benefits such as paid vacation, life insurance, health insurance and sick leave. They also receive an allowance for their uniforms and equipment. Police officers are also eligible for retirement at half pay after between 20-30 years of service. Officers without a formal college education can enter the force and work their way up as long as they are disciplined, intelligent and hard working.
Of course, if you’re considering becoming a police officer, salary is not the only motivation. Becoming a police officer stems from a desire to give back to the community. Police officers have a stressful job that can at times be dangerous. Yet, almost one million men and women put on a uniform each day to report for duty. They do it because they believe in the ideals of our society and want to uphold the law. Statistics have demonstrated that employment opportunities for police officers and detectives will increase by up to ten percent within the next decade.
One of the main reasons is population growth and urban expansion, which will require a larger police force. Individuals who have a stable psychology, a high degree of physical fitness, and a personality that can take orders and thrive in stressful situations have plenty of job prospects within the police force. Competition within the State and Federal police forces can be tough. Other assets that can help you secure a plum position as a police officer are military experience, a college degree, or being bilingual. See police officer education and schools for more information.
Keep in mind that police jobs are actually government jobs and subject to the annual federal, state and local budgets of these different levels of government; yet the income that police officers earn will be competitive to private sector jobs and much more reliable. It is very rare to see police laid off the same way that large corporations do when the economy dips, however the budget does determine how many new recruits can be hired each year and the amounts of merit-based pay increases. Nevertheless, when it comes to stability and fair wages, the police is one of the best choices for a career path.