Law Enforcement Careers in Michigan

There’s no sugar coating Michigan’s struggles with crime, given that it’s home to some of the most violent cities in the nation, including Detroit and Flint. According to 2017 FBI data, Detroit is ranked as the second most violent city in America among cities with more than 100,000 residents. In 2017, there were 13,796 violent crimes reported in Detroit – up slightly even from the notably high rate in 2016. Violent crime in Flint increased a troubling 22% between 2016 and 2017, although murders declined from 45 for every 100,000 people in 2016 to 37 in 2017.

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But for motivated men and women with aspirations of starting a career in law enforcement, these crime stats simply equate to more opportunities to make a difference. In Michigan, as elsewhere, careers in law enforcement are open to candidates who have a good moral standing in society and a personal record mostly clean from financial problems, traffic violations, criminal history, and illegal drug use.

Michigan State Police: Jobs and Training

The Michigan State Police is a full-service police agency that includes more than 3,000 employees. Just some of the specialty divisions within this agency include Intelligence Operations, Special Investigation, Special Operations, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, and Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Applicants for a state trooper position must have at least a high school education or GED, and a college education is recommended. Training lasts for 19-21 weeks.

Jobs with County Sheriff’s Departments in Michigan

Some of Michigan’s largest police agencies are the county sheriff’s offices responsible for serving the citizens in the state’s unincorporated areas. Beyond basic patrolling duties, sheriff’s departments are often responsible for overseeing county jail systems and providing court security.

Wayne County

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for managing the largest jail system in the state, with an average daily population of 2,600 inmates. The primary role of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department is related to its judicial functions, but it also conducts law enforcement activities such as patrols, investigations, and special responses. To become a Wayne County sheriff’s deputy applicants will be subject to a written, physical, and psychological exam.

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Kent County

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for law enforcement duties and maintaining the county’s jail facility and other corrections programs. Additionally, this sheriff’s department has its own training facility, which includes a mock intake room and jail cell, as well as a shooting range.

Macomb County

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department includes 500 employees and operates with an annual budget of $74 million. Deputies here may work in the county jail, on patrol, or in one of the department’s many specialized units, such as the dive team, K-9, SWAT, and Mobile Field Force.

Applicants for sheriff’s deputy positions must have a high school diploma or GED, although the department prefers applicants with a college degree. Male applicants must provide proof of registration with the Selective Services, and all who apply must pass a written and physical test from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

Municipal Police Careers in Michigan

Some of the most challenging law enforcement jobs in the state are found in Michigan’s cities, many of which hold the dubious titles of being among the most dangerous in the nation. Many of Michigan’s police departments are also home to a variety of specialized units and divisions such as K-9, SWAT, and criminal investigations units.


The Detroit Police Department has eight stations spread throughout the city. Recently this police department adopted the concept of a “virtual precinct,” allowing the redeployment of more than 100 officers city-wide. This idea reorganizes police services by placing more of an emphasis on non-emergency telephone crime reporting, and in the future will expand to include text messaging and other forms of electronic communication.

Job applicants must be at least 18 years old and must hold a high school diploma or GED to qualify. They must also pass the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) test before they can proceed through the hiring process.

Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Police Department is the second largest police department in the State of Michigan, with 316 sworn officers, 81 civilian employees, and 190,000 residents. This department receives about 150,000 calls for service each year.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old, they must hold a high school diploma or GED, and they must have no felony convictions or recent history of illegal drug use.


The Warren Police Department employs many initiatives designed to strengthen the relationships between the department and the public. For example, they have a youth crime prevention program called PAL that consists of educational, athletics, and recreational activities that are used to build trust and understanding between police officers and the city’s youth.

Candidates for police officer positions here must be at least 21 years old, must be in good physical shape, must have a relatively clean criminal record, and must have completed at least 64 college credits.

Sterling Heights

The Sterling Heights Police Department includes operations, investigations, support services, and emergency management divisions. Within the emergency management division, a representative from the police department liaises with counterparts from the fire, IT, risk management, and community relations departments to establish prioritized action plans for emergency situations.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, must have a valid driver’s license, must have no felony, domestic violence, or sexual crime convictions, and must meet the requirements of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).

Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Police Department includes 126 sworn officers and a total staff of 155. This full-service police department is home to a detective unit, traffic services unit, K-9 unit, and motorcycle and bicycle patrols, among others.

To qualify for a police officer job with the Ann Arbor Police Department, candidates must have an associate degree or an equivalent amount of college credit, or two years of active experience in the military or as a sworn law enforcement officer.


Lansing is home to more than 114,000 residents , and a police department that stands as one of the best examples of a law enforcement agency with officers who work closely with the community. Being one of the cities that founded the concept of “community policing”, Lansing fosters community engagement through partnership associations like neighborhood and business watch, community policing services, and even a school scholarship program.

Prospective officer candidates must be at least 21 years old, must have a valid Michigan driver’s license, and must have either an associate degree or an equivalent amount of college credits.

Michigan Law Enforcement Salaries

According to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median salary for law enforcement professionals in Michigan is $57,690, with the top 10% earning $78,650.

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The following data, sourced directly from the respective police/sheriff’s departments, provide an overview of starting salaries for police officers and deputies in Michigan. As available, additional information regarding maximum pay and increases in salary that come with experience and promotions is provided.

Police Officer Salaries

The overall average starting salary for police officers in Michigan’s largest police departments is $43,598. Information for individual departments is shown below:

Detroit Police Department

The Detroit Police Department pays its officers a salary of between $36,000 and $53,888. Officers with at least two years of college education are eligible for an additional 2% at hire.

Grand Rapids Police Department

The Grand Rapids Police Department pays its police officer recruits $45,369. After training, these law enforcement pros enjoy a salary increase to $47,597. The top salary for police officers here is $74,296. However, higher-ranking officers earn even higher salaries. For example, police sergeants earn a salary within the range of $80,198 to $83,497, while lieutenants earn a salary of between $88,544 and $93,737.

Lansing Police Department

Police officers with the Lansing Police Department earn a starting salary of $42,206. Additional salary increases include $45,464 (Step 2), $49,060 (Step 3), $52,631 (Step 4), $56,517 (Step 5), and $60,691 (Step 6).

Sterling Heights Police Department

Police officers with the Sterling Heights Police Department earn a starting salary of $44,705. After five years, and a number of sequential salary increases, they earn a salary of $77,053.

Ann Arbor Police Department

Police officers with the Ann Arbor Police Department earn a starting salary of $49,712. After one year of service, the salary for these law enforcement professionals increases to $53,435. Additional salary increases are available annually, with the salary for these officers topping out at $76,481.

The salary range for officers with an associate degree is $50,460-$77,625, while the range for officers with a bachelor’s degree is $51,584-$79,352.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

The average, starting salary for sheriff’s deputies among Michigan’s largest sheriff’s departments is $41,597, just slightly lower than the average starting salary of $43,598 for police officers working in Michigan’s largest police departments.

Genesee County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy sheriffs with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department earn a starting salary of $43,289. After the first year, the salary for these professionals increases to $44,916. Additional salary increases include: $46,499 (after year 2), $48,080 (after year 3), $49,662 (after year 4), $51,249 (after year 5), and $52,530 (after year 6).

Oakland County Sheriff’s Department

The salary for entry-level deputies with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is $39,905. At year 1, these pros earn $43,186, and at year 2, it increases to $45,820. The top pay for police officers here is $65,496. Promotion to the title of Deputy II comes with a salary range of $53,846-$73,267.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

State troopers with the Michigan State Police earn $45,600 during academy training. Upon graduation, troopers earn a base salary of $50,000 and a maximum salary of $73,000 after 20 years of service.


Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018

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.

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