Police Salary

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Police officers at the municipal and city levels are among the most vital public servants in our communities. These law enforcement professionals protect our homes, our property, and our lives, ensuring our safety and well-being, and their importance cannot be overvalued. Fortunately, in most parts of the country, the salaries of police officers reflect their value. According to 2018 BLS statistics, police officers earned a median salary of $63,380.

A police officer’s salary is dependent upon a variety of factors, and with the right qualifications, the salary can go from good to downright impressive.

State by State Overview of Typical Salaries for Police Officers

Compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data contained in this table represents statewide salary averages for police officers serving at the municipal level:

Area Name
Employment
Annual median wage
Alabama
11410
44560
Alaska
1070
84830
Arizona
11320
65220
Arkansas
6030
37680
California
72680
104790
Colorado
9840
74550
Connecticut
6450
71350
Delaware
1790
68460
District of Columbia
5450
71570
Florida(1200000)
37650
57320
Georgia
22410
42070
Hawaii
2610
73370
Idaho
2720
51060
Illinois
30370
82670
Indiana
12340
54570
Iowa
4860
58500
Kansas
5920
46170
Kentucky
7830
44820
Louisiana
11810
40480
Maine
2150
49860
Maryland
12650
67030
Massachusetts
16830
68030
Michigan
16270
57690
Minnesota
9450
70220
Mississippi
7520
34530
Missouri
13510
48080
Montana
1630
55710
Nebraska
3370
58100
Nevada
5120
68460
New Hampshire
3100
56880
New Jersey
19950
85330
New Mexico
4310
52070
New York
53560
78750
North Carolina
22350
46160
North Dakota
1590
56760
Ohio
24890
60980
Oklahoma
7480
43070
Oregon
5390
71670
Pennsylvania
27850
67440
Puerto Rico
13860
33010
RhodeI sland
1850
60460
South Carolina
11180
40770
South Dakota
1770
46920
Tennessee
13410
44270
Texas
60260
61590
Utah
4490
52550
Vermont
1280
52380
Virginia
18080
53570
Washington
9670
78870
West Virginia
3460
43420
Wisconsin
11260
62970
Wyoming
1130
54290

Factors Influencing Police Officer Salaries

Here’s what you need to know about police officer salaries and the factors that influence them:

It’s About the Right Education

While most police departments accept candidates with a minimum of a high school diploma, post-secondary education of some kind is a valued qualification.

A 2017 survey by the Police Foundation revealed that the vast majority of police agencies – 82% – require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Another 7% require candidates to have earned some college credits, while another 10% require a two-year degree and just 1% require a four-year degree.

But realizing the value of post-secondary education, nearly 56% of all agencies provide incentives to officers who pursue high education. The most popular incentives include tuition assistance/reimbursement (39%) and educational pay incentive (34%).

For example, the Dallas Police Department pays up to $1,500 per fiscal year for college tuition reimbursement, and those police officers with a bachelor’s degree earn an additional $300 a month.

The survey found that 52% of all sworn police officers in the U.S. have at least a two-year degree, while 30% have a four-year degree and 5% have a graduate degree. Criminal justice and criminology tend to be the most sought-after degrees among police officers, although degrees in public safety, science, technology, engineering, and forensic science are also common.

…And Putting in the Time

The size of your salary will be largely dependent upon your years of experience as a commissioned police officer. You’ll find that most police departments reward their officers with salary increases based on years of experience.

But you’ll also notice that salary increases occur as certain milestones are met. For example, it is typical for police officers to receive a salary increase upon graduating from the police academy.

A good example of this is the Albuquerque Police Department, where officers earn a starting salary of $19.35/hour as police cadets. Then, for the year following graduation from the academy, their pay increases to $21.27/hour. A year after graduation from the academy, their pay increases again to $29.00/hour.

Similarly, the Mobile Police Department offers new recruits a salary increase of $5,000 after a six-month probationary period.

Keep in mind that experience in the eyes of many police agencies includes military experience, so it’s quite common for those with either active duty or reserve duty military experience to earn a high salary than their non-military counterparts.

Benefits are Important, Too

Police officers’ benefits packages can add significantly to their overall compensation package. Benefits often include paid vacation days and holidays; life, healthcare, and disability insurance; and retirement benefits. In some police agencies, police officers are permitted to take home department vehicles, and stipends for supplies like boots and uniforms are commonplace.

Retirement benefits can be substantial in this field. For example, police officers with the San Francisco Police Department earn 3% of their final compensation per year of service at age 58, with a maximum retirement benefit of 90% based on years of service.Similarly, police offices with the City of Milwaukee earn a fully funded pension after 25 years of service.

The Value of Bonuses and Specialized Skills Incentives

A police officer’s salary can increase dramatically based on bonuses, rank, or specialized position. Hiring bonuses are commonplace in jurisdictions that struggle with a lack of qualified candidates. For example, the San Antonio Police Department offers new recruits the opportunity to earn a $5,000 bonus, and qualified military veterans and Texas peace officers can earn a hiring bonus of up to $7,500.

Specialized skills also often result in increases in pay. For example, the Dallas Police Department pays officers an additional $110-$150 per month for bilingual skills and an additional $100-$150 per month if they are assigned to specialized positions like patrol, SWAT, Love Field Airport, and the Gang Unit.

Similarly, officers with the San Diego Police Department receive a salary bump of 3.5% for being bilingual, 5% for detective, and 3.5% for SWAT team.

Overtime Opportunities

While a 40-hour workweek is standard in law enforcement, police officers have the option of putting in overtime, which often comes with an increased hourly wage. Many police officers are able to dramatically increase their weekly take home pay with the addition of overtime hours.

 

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/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for police and detectives. BLS salary data represents state 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.

All salary data accessed August 2019.

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