Recruitment efforts are in full force throughout Georgia as law enforcement agencies work to attract and retain qualified candidates with a passion for helping their community and protecting their citizens.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is just one of many agencies recruiting hopefuls through job fairs and other hiring events where they tout the many benefits that come with a job in law enforcement. Just a few of the benefits afforded to sheriff’s deputies with the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office include tuition reimbursement, paid holidays, and retirement benefits.
The Atlanta Police Department hosted a handful of recruitment fairs in the last year in response to a persistent shortage of about 350 officers, while the Cobb County Police Department is actively looking to fill 80-plus officer vacancies amid the serious shortage plaguing the department.
But the challenges facing these and many more police agencies throughout Georgia present unprecedented professional opportunities for men and women seeking careers in law enforcement. Armed with a desire to protect and serve and a willingness to undergo a rigorous course of training, you could become a valued law enforcement officer at the state, municipal, or county level.
- Grand Canyon University - B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- Southern New Hampshire University - A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice - Criminology, and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- Grantham University - B.A in Criminal Justice - Optional Concentration in Homeland Security or Computer Forensic Investigation
- Rasmussen College - Law Enforcement Associate's Degree and Post-Degree Certificates; Criminal Justice Bachelor's Degrees
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
State Jobs in Law Enforcement in Georgia
Law enforcement careers at the state level are found within the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
The Georgia State Patrol, which is part of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, was created to combat crimes across the state in response to a growing need for law enforcement. This state agency is organized into 52 patrol posts that operate out of 10 geographic troops and six specialized units that include the Motorcycle Unit, Criminal Interdiction, the Regional K-9 Task Force, and more.
Trooper recruits must attend a course of education and training that is 32 weeks in length. Afterwards, new recruits are placed at locations throughout the state.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) provides scientific, investigative, and information resources and services to the criminal justice community and others to protect life and property and maintain law and order. The GBI offers exciting and interesting employment opportunities in a variety of technical, scientific, investigative, and administrative career fields.
To be considered for employment, applicants may be required to complete a written test depending on the selected position, and consideration will otherwise be based on the applicant’s experience, training, and education.
As of May 2019, there was a total of 916 positions within the GBI, including 398 with the Bureau’s Investigative Division, 121 with the Georgia Crime Information Center, and 351 with the Division of Forensic Sciences.
Jobs with Sheriff’s Departments in Georgia
County sheriff’s deputies are key to fighting crime in the many unincorporated rural enclaves in Georgia without local police departments. Sheriff’s deputies are vital to keeping the peace, upholding laws, and protecting personal property, and they often lend their support to state and municipal agencies.
Fulton County sheriff’s deputies provide law enforcement services within the county in an effort to prevent crimes, preserve the peace, and secure all county buildings and public areas. These law enforcement professionals also process and secure inmates at the Fulton County jail, transport inmates, and serve arrest warrants.
Candidates for sheriff’s deputy jobs in Fulton County must have a valid GA driver’s license and either two years of experience or post-secondary education equivalent to an associate’s degree.
The protection of property and life, and the preservation of public safety and peace are the responsibilities that fall to the DeKalb County Sheriff Department. The application process for those interested in joining the agency includes a background check, panel review board appearance, and a medical examination.
Sheriff’s deputies in Muscogee County serve as law enforcement officers and officers of the court, providing physical security in the courtrooms and other county buildings and serving as bailiff to the Superior Court. Positions are currently available for men and women 21 years of age and older who have a high level of commitment and dedication to the community.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Department executes the orders of the court, protects the judiciary, supports law enforcement partners, and provides for the control, custody, and care of incarcerated inmates. Training includes everything from chemical weapons situations to ethics and professionalism.
Jobs with Municipal Police Departments in Georgia
The tireless work of Georgia’s municipal police departments has resulted in decreases in crime in some of the largest metro areas of the state. For example, Atlanta reported a total of 79 homicides in 2017 – 31 fewer than in 2016.
With more than 2,000 sworn officers, the Atlanta Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in Georgia. Officers here work out of the following divisions:
- Community Services Division
- Contingency Operations Division
- Criminal Investigations Division
- Field Operations Division
- Strategy and Special Projects Division
Qualified candidates must be at least 21 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED, be in good physical condition, and have no felony convictions.
The officers of the Columbus Police Department work out of the Patrol Services Division, which includes the Hit and Run Investigations Unit, the Bicycle Patrol, the Motor Squad, and the School Crossing Guard Unit, as well as the Bureau of Investigative Services, which includes the following divisions:
- Crime Scene Investigations
- Special Victims Unit
- Special Operations
Qualified applicants must be able to successfully pass a physical agility test, background investigation, polygraph exam, psychological exam, and a board interview.
The Savannah Police Department is organized into four precincts and a number of specialized units that include a canine unit, an honor guard, a negotiation team, a crisis intervention unit, and more. Officers here also work out of the department’s criminal investigations division, which includes homicide, robbery, and special victims units.
Candidates must be at least 21 years old, they must be a U.S. citizen, and they must have a high school diploma or GED. They must also have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions and 20/20 or corrected vision.
Georgia Law Enforcement Salaries
2018 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal an average, median salary of $42,070 for law enforcement officials. The top 10% here earn an average salary of $58,390.
The following salary data, which include starting salaries and mid- and senior-level salaries, where available, were obtained directly from the respective police department/sheriff’s office. Education plays a role when it comes to salaries for police officers and deputy sheriffs in many Georgia police and sheriff’s departments, so this information was also included, when available.
Police Officer Salaries
The average starting salary for police officers among Georgia’s largest police departments is $40,036. Officers with the Atlanta Police Department earn the highest starting salary, at $48,500.
- Athens Police Department
Police officers with the Athens Police Department earn a starting salary of $36,820, a mid-career salary average of $46,923, and a top salary of $57,025.
- Atlanta Police Department
The starting salary for Atlanta Police Department police officers is $48,500, with a top salary of $71,792.
- Columbus Police Department
Police officers with the Columbia Police Department earn different starting salaries based on their level of education:
- High school/GED: $40,587
- Associate’s degree: $41,524
- Bachelor’s degree: $42,772
- Master’s degree: $44,021
Police officers here earn a full salary while at the police academy. Additional salary incentives for officers here include:
- $2,000 signing bonus
- $1,200 military service incentive
- $1,000 relocation assistance
- Savannah Police Department
Police officers with the Savannah Police Department earn varying salaries during academy training based on their level of education: $35,046 for those with a high school diploma/GED and $37,446 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Upon completion of the Georgia POST Academy, the salary for graduates increases to $39,230 for those with a high school diploma/GED and $41,360 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Police officers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are eligible for a 5% pay raise after two years, and police officers without a degree are eligible for a 5% pay raise after three years.
Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries
Sheriff’s deputies working out of the largest county sheriff’s offices in Georgia earn an average, starting salary of $39,724, just slightly below the average starting salary of police officers in the state. Deputy sheriffs with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office earn the highest starting salary, at $45,666.
- Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriff’s with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $37,208 if uncertified and $40,208 if certified. Additional salary increases for sheriff’s deputies are as follows:
- Associate’s degree: $39,208 uncertified, $41,208 certified
- Bachelor’s degree: $40,208 uncertified, $42,208 certified
- Master’s degree: $41208 uncertified, $43,208
- Cobb County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriffs with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office earn a salary of $40,014 for the first 18 months of employment. Annual education incentives for these law enforcement professionals include $1,000 for an associate’s degree, $2,000 for a bachelor’s degree, and $3,000 for a master’s degree.
- Fulton County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriffs with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office earn a minimum salary of $45,666 and a maximum salary of $68,500.
- Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff’s deputies with the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $36,101. Deputies here with a post-secondary degree also earn an educational incentive of 3%-6%.
- Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy sheriffs with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Officer earn a starting salary of $39,634. After two years of consecutive service, salaries for these officers increase to $42,753.
State Trooper and State Police Salaries
State troopers with the Georgia State Patrol earn an initial salary of $32,418, which then increases to $34,038 while in Trooper school. Upon graduation, state troopers earn a salary of $35,741.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm.
BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Agency-level salary and employment data was sourced directly from the municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies named and reflects the specific salary ranges and seniority- or rank-based pay described by the respective agency.
All salary and employment data accessed in August 2019.