Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Police Salaries Across the U.S.

Police salaries across the U.S. vary according to geographic location, but typically remain higher in the largest cities.  The average starting salary around the U.S. is between $30,000 and $40,000, although this amount increases nearly every year.  After 20 years, this amount nearly doubles, reaching $80,000.  Additionally, depending on your rank within the force, your salary can double on its own once you take on more responsibility, from police corporal all the way up to police chief.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most police salaries across the U.S. place police officers within the top third of wage earners within their individual cities, demonstrating that this career is both morally and monetarily rewarding.  Cities with a high prevalence of crime start their officers off at a higher rate though, with some reaching $54,000 as a starting salary.  Different cities have different needs to meet and additionally require more from their officers than other cities.

The current median annual earnings for police officers is $47,460, with the middle 50 percent earning between $35,600 and $59,880.  The top 10 percent earn less than $27,310 and the highest 10 percent earn more than $72,450.  Depending on which aspect of government you work for as a police officer, you can earn a different amount.  The median annual earnings for the Federal government is $43,510; $52,540 in State government; and $47,190 in local government.  Federal law provides specific salary requirements to Federal employees who serve in law enforcement.  Additionally, Federal special agents receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) which is equal to 25 percent of their grade and step.  This is unique for the federal government because it demands much more time and service than other police units. 

Police and detectives additionally earn different amounts due to the diverse type of work both aspects of the job require.  For example, the median earnings of a detective is over $10,000 more than that of an ordinary police officer, $58,260.  Additionally, the middle 50 percent earn between $43,920 and $76,350.    There is an even bigger gap between the lowest 10 percent and the highest 10 percent, with their earnings at $34,480 and $92,590, respectively.  Detective salaries are different additionally, according to the type of government, ranged at $69,510 in federal government (vastly different for the police officer pay at Federal government), $49, 370 in State government, and $52,520 in local government.  While police officers can include a wide variety of individuals, it becomes important to look at all the different positions which the departments offer in order to accurately gauge what your own pay rate could be if you joined the force.  This appears to be one career in which the employees are loyal and constantly move up in rank, leading to larger salaries over the years.  Additionally, this career has become recession-proof, since there is a constant need for police officers across the country.