Types of Law Enforcement Jobs

 

Pay

Police and sheriff’s patrol officers had median annual earnings of $47,460 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,600 and $59,880. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,450. Median annual earnings were $43,510 in Federal Government, $52,540 in State government, and $47,190 in local government.

In May 2006, median annual earnings of police and detective supervisors were $69,310. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,900 and $83,940. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,410. Median annual earnings were $85,170 in Federal Government, $68,990 in State government, and $68,670 in local government.

In May 2006, median annual earnings of detectives and criminal investigators were $58,260. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,920 and $76,350. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,590. Median annual earnings were $69,510 in Federal Government, $49,370 in State government, and $52,520 in local government.

Federal law provides special salary rates to Federal employees who serve in law enforcement. Additionally, Federal special agents and inspectors receive law enforcement availability pay (LEAP)—equal to 25 percent of the agent’s grade and step—awarded because of the large amount of overtime that these agents are expected to work. For example, in 2007, FBI agents entered Federal service as GS-10 employees on the pay scale at a base salary of $48,159, yet they earned about $60,199 a year with availability pay. They could advance to the GS-13 grade level in field nonsupervisory assignments at a base salary of $75,414, which was worth $94,268 with availability pay. FBI supervisory, management, and executive positions in grades GS-14 and GS-15 paid a base salary of about $89,115 and $104,826 a year, respectively, which amounted to $111,394 or $131,033 per year including availability pay.

Salaries were slightly higher in selected areas where the prevailing local pay level was higher. Because Federal agents may be eligible for a special law enforcement benefits package, applicants should ask their recruiter for more information.

Total earnings for local, State, and special police and detectives frequently exceed the stated salary because of payments for overtime, which can be significant.

According to the International City-County Management Association’s annual Police and Fire Personnel, Salaries, and Expenditures Survey, average salaries for sworn full-time positions in 2006 were:

 

Minimum annual base salary

Maximum annual base salary

Police chief

$78,547

$99,698

Deputy chief

68,797

87,564

Police captain

65,408

81,466

Police lieutenant

59,940

72,454

Police sergeant

53,734

63,564

Police corporal

44,160

55,183

 

In addition to the common benefits—paid vacation, sick leave, and medical and life insurance—most police and sheriffs’ departments provide officers with special allowances for uniforms. Because police officers usually are covered by liberal pension plans, many retire at half-pay after 25 or 30 years of service.