Police officer salaries & benefits

Police officers have a very demanding job that can be both strenuous and dangerous. These individuals are responsible for ensuring the safety of the residents in their city or town and enforcing the law. While a career as a police officer doesn’t require college education, it does involve a great deal of training and on-the-job learning. The salary and benefits of a police officer can vary greatly depending on the officer’s experience, education and location. However, distinct trends in all three areas can help an individual to estimate the salary that one could command in various situations.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the middle half of police officers and sheriff patrol officers had an annual salary between £23,140 and £38,922 in 2006. The 10 per cent of officers with the lowest salary earned less than £17,751. The highest-paid 10 per cent of officers had an annual salary of more than £47,092. For police and detective supervisors, the middle half earned between £35,035 and £54,561 in 2006. Supervisors falling in the lowest-paid 10 per cent had an annual salary of less than £26,819, while the highest-paid 10 per cent had a salary of more than £67,866.


Experience is a very important factor for police officers. The knowledge that they gain on the job dealing with difficult situations is often more valuable than any formal training. For this reason, the annual salary of police officers has a steady and notable increase over time. A 2009 study performed by PayScale, Inc. reports that the median salary for a police officer with 1 to 4 years of experience is £25,436. For officers with 5 to 9 years of experience, the median salary is £30,933. Ten to 19 years of experience earned an officer a median salary of £35,155, while police with 20 years of experience or more had a median annual salary of £41,734.


The requirements for becoming a police officer do not include a college education. Applicants must have a high school diploma and pass a written test to be eligible to become a police officer. However, some higher education is preferred, and the degree held by the officer can influence his salary. PayScale, Inc. reports that officers holding only a high school diploma earned an annual median salary of £22,095. Officers with an associate's degree had an annual median salary between £26,731 and £30,232. Police officers with a bachelor’s degree had a median salary between £30,917 and £33,459.


The location where a police officer works can greatly affect his expected salary. Some locations are considered more dangerous than others, and the nature of the work can vary from a big city as opposed to a small town. PayScale, Inc. found the highest police salary in Los Angeles, where the median annual salary for officers was £46,784. This can be attributed both to the high crime rate in the city as well as the high cost of living. In comparison, the median salary for police in Detroit was £29,183. In New Jersey, the annual median salary soared to £48,673 in PayScale Inc.’s 2009 survey. Meanwhile the median salary for officers in North Carolina was only £23,224. When considering location, a variety of factors must be taken into account, and prospective officers should try to find a good balance between the average salary and the cost of living to determine what the best option really is.


The benefits that police officers are eligible for include paid vacation, sick leave and medical and life insurance. Police officers also get paid for overtime. This can bring a significant to boost to their earnings, as overtime is often plentiful. Some officers will also receive an allowance for their uniforms. Guaranteed pensions are another benefit to police officers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many police officers are able to retire after just 25 or 30 years of service at half of their annual pay.

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About the Author

Mandi Rogier is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics. As a previous employee of Walt Disney World, she enjoys writing travel articles that make use of her extensive knowledge of Orlando theme parks.