How To Become A Cop

Salary for Police Officers

Cops certainly do not go into law enforcement for the money.  It’s a public service job, and salaries are generally lower than the cop might earn at many private sector careers.  Still, police department positions pay equivalent to those of other civil service positions in the same community with a similar breadth of responsibility.   It's important to have a general idea what a salary for police officers will be.

As a civil servant, the police officer will also earn a variety of fringe benefits.   They will vary considerably from agency to agency, but the following list is typical:

1.     Comprehensive medical and dental coverage

 

2.    Vacation and sick leave

 

3.    At least 9 holiday days off

 

4.    Overtime pay

 

5.    Retirement plans and annuities

 

6.    Life insurance

 

7.     Disability insurance

 

8.    Paid continuing education

Pay will vary from state to state, and city to city.   Those with specialized assignments may be paid more for their special requirements.   Federal law enforcement jobs may qualify for 25% uplift in pay because normal expectations are that officers will work at least 50 hours per week.   Feds may also receive some pay adjustments depending on the cost of living of the assigned service area.

According to Policelink.com, pay varies widely from state to state for police officers.  The highest ten states in median hourly salary for police officers (2006) are:

New Jersey

$33.88

Alaska

$26.98

California

$33.12

Connecticut

$26.72

Illinois

$28.81

Pennsylvania

$25.76

Washington

$28.41

Colorado

$25.57

Nevada

$27.74

Oregon

$24.76

The lowest ten states in median hourly salary for police officers in 2006 are:

Mississippi

$13.59

Missouri

$15.39

Arkansas

$13.67

West Virginia

$15.44

Louisiana

$13.75

Vermont

$15.64

Oklahoma

$13.88

Alabama

$15.80

Tennessee

$15.26

South Dakota

$16.07

Policelink.com also lists median salaries by type of cop job, based on 2006 salaries:

Patrol officer: $35,600 to $59,880

Detective: $43,920 to $76,350

U.S. Marshal:  $36,658 to $46,969

SWAT team member: $61,000

Crime Scene Investigator:  $53,026

Federal Air Marshal:  $50,000

Highway Patrol Officer:  $52,540

Any way you slice it, while relatively secure and well set with benefits, the police officer’s salary is not particularly high for the level of skill, authority and responsibility expected of those in law enforcement.  It's still a good idea to have an idea what the salary for police officers is, so you'll have an idea what to expect.

Related: 

How to Become a Cop  Are you ready to get started?  Here is the place to start.

Cop Grants  It's nice to get a good salary but some struggle with expenses getting their training.  Grants can really help.

Steps in Becoming a Police Officer  You need to follow a logical sequence when getting started.

Criminal Justice Degree Online  Degrees can help one advance and get a higher salary.

Criminal Justice Masters Degree  A degree can get you off to a faster start.

Job With Criminal Justice Degree  Jobs are available for those who have a criminal justice degree.

Police Officer Requirements  Not everyone is cut out to be a cop.  If you think you are, check out this article.

How to Apply to Become a Police Officer  Now is the time to get started in a rewarding career.