Police Officer Salary

Prior to joining the police force, some people mistakenly think that the work of a police officer is all glamour, excitement and hunky dory, thanks to Hollywood; however, this is far from the truth.

In all honesty, it is a tough job that demands those in it to always be on their toes at all times as you may be facing a life and death situation on any of your working days.

What exactly does a police officer do?

The duties of a police officer are quite diverse, but mostly it is about maintaining law and order in the community.

Police officers can also be positioned as detectives who are involved in crime detection and prevention of the same.

These types of law enforcement officers collect evidence, analyze it and seek to uncover the culprit behind the said crime.

In short, all criminal cases are solved by all types of police officers and it involves:

  • Crime scene investigation.
  • Checking the culprit’s criminal records.
  • Interviewing the witnesses, the victims and the suspects.

To be a police detective, you normally start off as a patrol officer, and then as you gain experience, you are promoted to a full-fledged police detective; mostly in around three years’ time.

All in all, this is just a basic framework to give you an idea as to what is involved in police work.

If you are fascinated by what these very essential people in our American society do and have been wondering as to how much they particularly earn, below is an analysis of a police officer salary in the United States of America.

What is the police officer salary range?

Basically, a new entrant into the police force starts off on a modest salary of approximately $50,000 per annum, but as he or she becomes more experienced, the salary can go up to $120,000 per annum in some states.

However, the police officer salary may be less or more, depending on aspects such as one’s education level, training and experience. Don’t be surprised when you come to realize that in some states, their starting salary can be as little as $26,000 per annum depending on their educational qualifications.

Those in specialized police jobs, for instance, detectives with some state agencies, crime scene investigators and the likes, can expect to take home an average annual salary that ranges from $54,000 to $70,000 in some states.

However, if a police officer is working in big cities and excels at what he or she does, he or she can expect a salary in the range of $75,000 to $95,000 per annum. The reason for this is quite obvious; the number of crimes involved is larger, in addition to the gravity of the crime committed in these huge cities and metropolitans.

Is there a difference in the police officer salary paid by the federal government?

Basically, the police officer salary paid by the federal government is somewhere between what an individual state gives and what is earned by most officers who work in the big cities and huge metropolitans.

For instance, a specialized police officer such as a crime scene investigator earns a respectable $80,000 per year and so does an experienced police detective. The main reason for this is obvious; their responsibilities are highly specialized and in most cases, their work is highly confidential.

Do the rank and the location matter when it comes to a police office salary?

To say the truth, the location matters a lot when it comes to a US police officer salary fixation. If an area in question is considered highly crime prone, the officers working there are normally well compensated. For example, in the state of New Jersey, police officers earn salaries in the average range of $72,000 annually. Of course, this is on the higher side; it can be less depending on a variety of reasons, for instance, experience, education and the likes.

Similarly, a police officer salary can also be determined by the rank he or she holds in the police force. As per certain reports in 2010 and mid 2011, the lowest ten percent amongst a group of police officers earned salaries in the ranges of $35,000 to $69,000 per annum in most states in the United States of America, while those earning the highest took home salaries in the range of $76,000 or more.


As shown here, the average police officer salary is approximately $55,010 per year.

According to the 2010-2011 data statistics, here’s a quick look of the police officer salary by rank (lowest to highest):

  • Police corporal with a minimum salary of $49,421
  • Police sergeant with a minimum salary of $58,739
  • Police lieutenant with a minimum salary of $65,688
  • Police captain with a minimum salary of $72,761
  • Police deputy chief with a minimum salary of $74,834
  • Police chief with a minimum salary of $90,570


In a nutshell, the above information is a general overview of what you can expect to take home if you have opted to join the police force in the US. However, these are approximate figures; therefore they can vary greatly depending on components such as:

  • The geographic location
  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Employer
  • Ultimately, the specialty

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