The average starting salary for a police officer in the United States is $51,410 per year, according to police officer salary statistics. While that seems like a substantial amount it is important to remember that there are many different divisions of federal, state and local police and the actual police salary range lies between $30,000 and $100,000.
There are lots of opportunities for police work regardless of which branch appeals most to you. Whether you are interested in becoming a detective, a fish and game warden, transit police, or working with the sheriff’s department; there are hundreds of job openings each year in your state. Your individual starting salary, however, will depend on your education and skill level when you enter the force.
If you have gone to college and studied law enforcement, forensics, criminal law, or any other applicable degree program you may be able to get an excellent starting position with the state police. However, even if you only have a high school diploma you can still enter the local force and work your way up through dedicated service. Regardless of your entry level salary, once you have joined the police you will have the chance to work within very clear, specific guidelines in order to plan your career progress and work toward promotions and raises.
Beyond Police Officer Starting Salary
In addition to a market rate salary, police officers receive additional benefits such as paid vacation, life insurance, health insurance and sick leave. Officers also receive an allowance for their uniforms and equipment so that they don’t have to absorb those expenses. Perhaps even more attractive is that police officers are usually eligible for retirement at half pay after between 20-30 years of service.
Police officers are generally scheduled for 40-hour work weeks, but overtime is not uncommon. They are also always on call, which means they must be prepared to respond to an emergency whenever they are needed. Even if they are off duty, many jurisdictions require police officers to be armed and able to enforce the law as the need arises. This makes a police officer’s job one of the most stressful, as well as one of the most rewarding you can have.
While it is true that there are other careers that pay more, most people who become police officers do so because they believe in the work and want to make a positive contribution to their community. A police officer is entrusted with the public peace and the welfare of innocent people. The people who are drawn to police work tend to thrive with responsibility and enjoy physical challenges. If this sounds like you, then it would be a good idea to consider joining the police force as a career path. Becoming a police officer is a dream come true for thousands of men and women each year. It is a demanding, but extremely rewarding career that can change your life and allow you to earn a good living. It is a stressful line of work, but there are individuals who can operate well under stress and who enjoy a challenge each day at work.
Keep in mind that the police officer starting salary in your state, county and city are dependent on the local government’s annual budget which changes from year to year. If you’re considering a career in law enforcement it is a good idea to talk to an experienced police officer, and if possible, a police supervisor. These officers can give you honest feedback about the kind of work you’ll be doing, a police officer’s education and schooling, and they’ll let you know what you can expect in a starting salary.