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How Much Do Police Officers Make?

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If you’ve ever wondered ‘how much do cops make?’ you’ve come to the right place. Police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers earn a median annual salary of $65,790. The exact police salary depends on a number of factors and varies from state to state. In general, earnings range from $40,560 to $104,100.

Your particular area of law enforcement also influences earnings. Detectives and criminal investigators, for instance, tend to be paid more—$52,120, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

In this Article

Police Officer and Sherrif Salary (by State)

Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers

National data

Median Salary: $65,790

Projected job growth: 3.3%

10th Percentile: $40,560

25th Percentile: $50,210

75th Percentile: $84,520

90th Percentile: $104,100

Projected job growth: 3.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $47,210 $31,650 $66,660
Alaska $82,300 $43,060 $122,790
Arizona $67,310 $50,660 $82,360
Arkansas $39,040 $28,970 $62,260
California $104,160 $65,890 $134,010
Colorado $82,250 $57,920 $99,740
Connecticut $80,330 $56,830 $95,190
Delaware $78,640 $55,590 $100,730
District of Columbia $78,540 $62,440 $102,500
Florida $63,860 $45,970 $101,480
Georgia $48,610 $36,170 $63,260
Hawaii $86,080 $67,490 $109,580
Idaho $59,930 $44,610 $80,190
Illinois $86,130 $49,010 $101,430
Indiana $62,200 $46,190 $76,450
Iowa $62,820 $46,940 $85,530
Kansas $48,890 $35,510 $77,240
Kentucky $47,580 $34,820 $63,660
Louisiana $44,620 $29,080 $59,520
Maine $58,030 $43,350 $72,180
Maryland $74,450 $52,340 $94,060
Massachusetts $73,390 $48,700 $98,020
Michigan $64,950 $44,500 $80,660
Minnesota $78,710 $50,420 $98,530
Mississippi $37,240 $25,360 $51,310
Missouri $51,090 $35,690 $78,620
Montana $60,520 $45,540 $76,370
Nebraska $62,070 $46,910 $82,230
Nevada $74,110 $58,160 $92,780
New Hampshire $59,480 $47,480 $80,120
New Jersey $88,100 $51,110 $128,360
New Mexico $58,880 $40,550 $71,910
New York $80,210 $49,210 $127,020
North Carolina $48,260 $37,230 $70,240
North Dakota $62,870 $48,550 $79,960
Ohio $71,100 $40,590 $93,090
Oklahoma $49,200 $30,650 $80,340
Oregon $80,760 $60,740 $94,330
Pennsylvania $78,390 $44,820 $103,400
Rhode Island $65,420 $49,080 $83,200
South Carolina $46,800 $36,250 $65,250
South Dakota $50,980 $39,270 $76,390
Tennessee $48,230 $35,830 $66,470
Texas $64,370 $45,560 $89,980
Utah $61,380 $47,010 $78,940
Vermont $61,360 $47,130 $76,610
Virginia $58,310 $44,240 $80,970
Washington $94,170 $66,090 $117,420
West Virginia $46,960 $37,070 $59,520
Wisconsin $71,590 $48,760 $83,820
Wyoming $58,370 $44,530 $69,030

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

It’s important to note that the BLS’s figures for the median salary of federal law enforcement jobs reflect a wide range of positions, and salaries for individual job titles can differ by tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a prison bailiff earns a median salary of $49,100 per year, while a computer analyst can earn $102,240 annually.

Stephen Webb, Principal Lecturer and Criminal Justice Program Lead at Regent University in Virginia, advises that you make your decision about a career in law enforcement based on the kind of work you want to do, rather than how much a police officer can make.

“If you’re going into it for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reason,” Webb observes. “It really needs to be a calling.”

Geography, Experience, and More: What Factors Affect Law Enforcement Salaries?

Each individual police organization makes its salary schedule based on complex and interrelated factors, such as local norms, political influences, and police union negotiations.

Some of the strongest factors affecting salaries are geography, years of experience, specialty, and qualifications.

A Strong Correlation: How Location and Cost of Living Impact Overall Earnings

There is a strong correlation between metro areas with a high cost of living and those with higher annual salaries, according to the latest data from The Council for Community and Economic Research.

Metro Areas with Highest Cost of LivingHighest Paying Metro Areas for Police
New York City, NYNew York City, NY
Honolulu, HIChicago, IL
San Francisco, CAWashington DC
Washington DCLos Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CAMiami, FL

Highest and Lowest Paying States for Police Officers

The highest police salaries are on the West Coast and the East Coast from New York to Washington, D.C. Two Midwest states, Minnesota and Illinois, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, also rank high in police pay. 

The states with the lowest average salaries for law enforcement are located mostly in the South. The five lowest are Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Salaries for law enforcement officers of all kinds differ from one state to another, even for the same job and rank. For example, the average salary for a New York state trooper can be significantly higher than a Texas state trooper or Florida state trooper.

States with the Highest Average Police Salary

StateAnnual Average Wage
New Jersey$90,520

It’s difficult to make a blanket statement about whether local or state police will earn higher salaries, according to Webb, who retired after more than 27 years as a Virginia state trooper. There are far too many factors influencing pay, he says.

Training and Education

You may be able to get an entry-level job in law enforcement with only a high school diploma. Some police forces require you to have an associate or bachelor’s degree to begin. Earning a college degree, either before or after you start working as a police officer, could help to advance your career and increase your earning potential.

Earning a college degree, either before or after you start working as a police officer, could help to advance your career and increase your earning potential

Higher ranks, such as lieutenant, captain, and commander, almost always require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but those roles typically earn more than an entry-level officer. Some high-ranking officers even have master’s degrees or doctorates.

A college degree can help you land a job in law enforcement, and might even be required to earn certain promotions. In addition, some police organizations offer extra pay to officers with a degree. This can be a flat rate or a percentage-based increase.

Experience, Promotions Increase Earning Potential

Salary increases for police are usually organized on step pay scale based on years of experience and rank. Each step between pay raises represents a certain number of years. Advance to the next step, and you get a raise of a certain percentage. For example, you might be able to move from Step 1 (entry-level) to Step 2 in just one year, but to get to the next pay increase at Step 3, you may have to work for several years.

Of course, beyond the length of an officer’s tenure, advancing through the chain of command also tends to come with salary increases. Police organizations almost always promote from within the staff, explains Stephen Webb, lecturer in criminal justice at Regent University. When a law enforcement officer advances to the next rank, such as police sergeant, lieutenant, commander, or captain, it comes with a bump in pay.

Police chiefs and sheriffs tend to make the highest salaries in their organization, with annual median wage reported at $99,330 per year.

Common Benefits

In addition to their base salary police officers commonly receive benefits such as health and life insurance, vacation, sick leave, and access to retirement plans such as a 401K plan or pension.

When police officers work overtime, they may be paid time and a half for the extra hours they work. This can include working beyond the scheduled shift or doing extra duties such as testifying in court.

There may also be funds available to pay for continuing education and training.

How Does a Police Officer’s Salary Compare to Similar Careers?

Front-line police officers are not the only careers in the field of criminal justice. Other first responds, as well as the court system and correctional institutions, are also vital in keeping communities safe and fighting crime.

These areas come with many opportunities for positions in support and administration, according to Vesna Markovic, who teaches criminal justice at Lewis University near Chicago. Examples include:

  • Bailiffs
  • Dispatchers
  • Correctional officers
  • Victim advocates
  • Prisoner transport
  • Translators
  • Dispatchers

Many people interested in law enforcement also work in the private sector, says Markovic. This can include security guards, loss prevention analysts, risk assessment, and investigators. Markovic worked for several years as a private investigator.

Some of these jobs will pay significantly less than police officers, but some can pay more, depending on the level of education and expertise needed.

Career Median Annual Salary
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers $65,790
Security Guards $34,750
Correctional Officers and Jailers $49,610
Emergency Medical Technicians $36,680
Firefighters $51,680

Is Law Enforcement an In-Demand Career?

In short, yes.

Over the next decade, the number of job openings are expected to grow by about 3.3% per year for police officers of all ranks. Despite the limited growth, this puts the BLS projections at around 68,500 openings for police and detectives each year across the country.

Many police and sheriff’s departments across the country are seriously understaffed and looking for qualified applicants, according to Webb.

“They’re really trying to attract qualified individuals right now,” Webb says. Departments are competing with one another for the best applicants, and many are offering sign-on bonuses, Webb says. 

karen hanson

Written and researched by:

Karen S. Hanson

Contributing Writer

stephen webb

With professional insights from:

Stephen Webb

Principal Lecturer and Criminal Justice Lead, Regent University

vesna markovic

Vesna Markovic

Chair and Associate Professor of Justice, Law, and Public Safety, Lewis University