Marine Police Officer Careers

Many areas of the country are within proximity to large bodies of water that present challenges to law enforcement agencies.  While the majority of law enforcement operations in these marine environments are relegated to water safety and traffic management, police groups may require specialized units with marine expertise for narcotics and smuggling interdiction, criminal investigations and search and rescue operations.

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Marine police officers are among the most capable of police organizations.  Marine police officer jobs involve demonstrating superior policing skills during rescue, boat inspections, and diving operations.  These specially trained officers must brave freezing waters, wrestle panicked individuals and conduct life-saving operations like CPR or firefighting in isolated conditions. Marine police often inspect boats to ensure they are complying with regulations.  In some parts of the country, the marine police are also responsible for interdicting smuggling operations and arresting criminals.

Marine Police Officer Job Description

Marine police officers jobs require the following competencies:

  • Enforce marine safety laws
  • Conduct boat inspections
  • Monitor the activities of suspicious individuals on the water or on coastal lands
  • Investigate crimes and collect evidence from vessels, beaches or underwater areas
  • Rescue individuals who may be injured or drowning
  • Prepare reports about collisions or criminal acts
  • Arrest perpetrators and transport them to detention facilities
  • Maintain boat operation licenses
  • Possess diving proficiency with or without specialized equipment
  • Operate firefighting equipment
  • Conduct search and rescue operations


Specialized Training to Join the Marine Police Officer

Rookie officers must serve in patrol units for several years before they may request re-assignment to the marine units and get the specialized training necessary to become a marine police officer. If admitted, officers must enroll in a rigorous marine police training program that may include the following topics:

  • Water traffic laws
  • Marine safety
  • Search and rescue
  • Human and narcotics smuggling
  • Diving operations
  • High speed pursuit
  • Marine vessel piloting
  • Fire emergency operations
  • First aid

Preparing for a job as a marine police officer entails peak physical conditioning and obtaining the strongest academic credentials possible.   The physical fitness tests, police academy training, and professional responsibilities of marine police officers demand that candidates exhibit outstanding physical strength, stamina and coordination.  Most police departments only require a high school diploma, but an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is often advantageous during the selection and promotion processes.

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Police department applicants should possess the following qualifications:

  • United States citizenship
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Unimpeachable moral character
  • No felony convictions

During selection, the police department will conduct intensive background checks and polygraph examinations.  A medical and psychological assessment will also be administered. If hired, recruits must complete police academy training.  This basic training program should provide the foundation in legal concepts and police procedures necessary to begin a career as a law enforcement officer.

Marine Police Officer Salary

Marine police units are composed of uniformed officers and higher ranking officers who are often detectives or investigators. While salaries are heavily dependent upon education, geographical location, and law enforcement experience, marine police officers likely earn salaries that represent the top earners among police officers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), police officers at the top of the pay scale (75th – 90th percentile) earned between $81,850 and $102,530 as of May 2021.

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022.

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