Just as with any profession, the salary of a police officer depends on many different factors including things such as years of experience, area of the country in which you work, level of education and much more. One of the biggest factors when it comes to a police officer’s salary is where they work. Often, large cities are able to pay their law enforcement officers more than a small, rural town would be able to. In addition, large cities typically have more crime, therefore the dangers on the job are much greater than those of a smaller town or county.
What is the Average Salary of a Police Officer?
According to salary.com, the average salary of a police officer across the United States is $52,423 a year. This number means that half of the patrol officers in the country make around or more than 52,000 a year and half make around or less than 52,000 a year. The low end of the annual income for an average patrol officer is around 35,000 a year, where the high end is 70,000 a year.
As with any job, police pay can increase with additional years of experience, promotions or further training. Also there are many opportunities for an officer to make additional money above their annual salary by choosing to work over-time, or work special events, or security etc. Some police departments even offer bonuses for skills such as being bilingual. If you are seriously thinking about going into law enforcement it would be beneficial to learn a second language (Spanish is highly advisable).
Police Officer Average Salary & Benefits
In addition to a regular salary, police officer also receive benefits. Typically a police officer will be provided with competitive medical, dental and vision coverage. In this day and age these benefit packages are highly desirable and of great value. Coverage for families is also usually very competitive for law enforcement officers. Other benefits include sick days, paid vacation days, pension, early retirement possibilities, and the possible schedule of 4 days on and 4 days off. These benefits make up for what some may view as a lower average salary for a qualified professional in a high stress job.
Another perk for being accepted into a police academy is that typically police academy training is paid. As is the field training. So, as an individual is being trained to become a police officer they are being paid as one.
Many officers would argue that the largest benefit they received from working as an officer of the law is the relationships that are built within your department. Often officers working together end up feeling more like family than like co-workers. Fighting on the line of duty with someone and facing life or death experiences can bond people together more than any other experience in life. This is another reason why police officers form some of the strongest bonds of their lives with the people that they work with.
Annual Salary Maps of the United States of America
Below are a few maps of the United States, taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics websites which show the annual average salary of police officers by state and region. The first map shows by state as a whole, whereas the second can give a person a little more specific information regarding regions of the country within each state. Obviously more urban areas pay police officers a higher wage, and rural areas of the country are lower. Cost of living can also affect how much a police officer can make. In areas that cost of living is lower the salary for police officers may be lower. These are factors to look into when trying to decide where to settle down and where to look for a job. The wonderful thing about the field of law enforcement is that police officers are needed all across the country and will most likely be needed through the end of time. We will always need brave men and women who are willing to work to protect the people of this country and stop crime.
As you can see from the map above, some of the highest paying states are some of the most populated states in our country. They are also some of the states with the most crime, therefore the job stress may be higher with the pay. One state that doesn’t fit the norm is Alaska, which has a low population but high pay.
The map above shows average salaries by area across the United States. This may help give people an idea of some of the highest and lowest paying areas in a state. Minnesota for example, shows that the state average is lower than that of the average police officer working in the Twin Cities (or the most populated/urban area of the state). California is a states that has little variance since the population is high throughout the state and cost of living in California is also very high!
Salary and benefit highlights of working as a Police Officer:
- Average salary between 30,000 and 70,000 a year
- Paid police academy time and field training
- Medical, dental and vision coverage for individuals and families
- Paid vacation time (yearly)
- Allotment of paid sick days (yearly)
- Pension plan and possible retirement after 30 years of service
- Typical annual cost of living pay increase
- Possibility of raises and promotions in rank
- Bonus for being bilingual
- Possible holiday bonus pay
- Possibility of a 4 day on 4 day off work schedule
- Pay increase for further education/training
- Possibility of overtime opportunities
- Possible off-duty pay
- Lifetime bonds with other officers
- Personal reward for working to help people
- Pride of carrying a badge and gun
As you can see there are many benefits to becoming a police officer, both monetarily and otherwise. Not only to officers gain the satisfaction of knowing that their profession is making a difference, but officers also form bonds and friendships that last a lifetime while working in a rewarding career field and being compensated at a competitive rate. These are just some of the benefits of becoming a law enforcement officer.