Undercover police work is one of the more exciting but also potentially dangerous ways to make a living. It also offers the chance to make a real difference while covertly working on cases. Undercover officers are utilised for various types of investigations, such as breaking up drug and prostitution rings and taking down gangs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers salary information for police and detectives. They do not offer specific income information about undercover officers, as undercover police officers are still considered regular police officers and their pay rates are lumped in with the rest. The national median hourly salary for a police officer or detective is just over £22 ($35) an hour. That works out to a median annual income of just over £47,450 ($73,000).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics additionally offers income information by percentiles. The bottom 10 per cent of earners in this field pull in approximately £12 ($19) an hour and £25,350 ($39,000) a year. Those in the 25th percentile earn about £15 ($24) hourly and £32,500 ($50,000) a year. The 50th percentile earn around £21 ($33) hourly and £44,850 ($69,000) annually. The 75th percentile bring in about £28 ($44) an hour and £59,150 ($91,000)each year. Those in the 90th percentile average approximately £37 ($57) an hour and £77,350 ($199,000) per year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top fives states with the highest levels of employment in this field are Texas, California, New York, Florida and Arizona, in that order. Texas -- the state employing the most individuals in this field -- has an average hourly wage of approximately £21 ($33) an hour and £44,200 ($68,000) annually. California averages £27 ($43) an hour and £58,500 ($68,000) annually. New York is £23 ($36) hourly and £48,100 ($74,000) annually. Florida comes in at £22 ($34) an hour and £45,825 ($70,500) a year, and Arizona averages £22 ($34) hourly and £46,475 ($71,500) per year.
Undercover police officers are eligible for overtime pay. The embedded nature of their work often means they are working long hours with no definite quitting time. Police officers posing as gang members, for instance, can't punch a clock at 5 p.m. and call it a day. According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, in 2007 Milwaukee undercover officers earned approximately £2000 ($4,000) more in overtime pay than the average Milwaukee Police Department employee. These undercover officers were working as police officers, detectives and police sergeants.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Police and Detectives; December 2009
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Detectives and Criminal Investigators; May 2011
- Adirondack Daily Enterprise; Undercover police work: difficult and dangerous; George J. Bryjak; January 2009
- Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel; Undercover MPD Officers Also Racked Up Overtime; Ben Poston; May 2008