How much is the average law enforcement salary?

Law Enforcement Salaries

Anyone with even the least knowledge of law enforcement careers knows that like practically any profession, law enforcement pay varies widely. Much of this is due to the wide variety in criminal justice training levels and expectations of the different fields and positions. There is also considerable variance due to different jobs being considered “law enforcement.”

At the bottom of the ladder, mainly due to the level of law enforcement training required, are security guards. Security guards, also called security officers, generally have the least amount of training, often just a GRE or high school diploma, and in some states are required to pass a state examination on basic law enforcement concepts. These personnel are employed by private companies or are hired by private security agencies to provide contract security services. A security guard salary average salary is $23,460.

Next as sworn police officers, sheriff deputies, correctional officers, and related personnel. Law enforcement on this level are employed by cities, counties, and state governments to provide protection services to people and organizations within their respective jurisdictions. These personnel are expected to have not only completed a higher level of education, but many are graduates of colleges and universities as well as an extensive course of instruction at a law enforcement academy sponsored by a department or other agency. The average salary for a correctional officer is between $35,990 and $60,430, and a police officer’s average salary is $53,540.  With higher education,  police sergeants, lieutenants, and detectives make more than positions previously stated. Police Sergeants start at $58,739, while detectives average $60,910.  Lieutenants start at $65,688.

Other higher level law enforcement administrators include police chiefs.  With increased education and experience, the top position of police chief earns a starting salary of $90,570.

At the federal level, there are many different law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to the FBI, CIA, DEA, Secret Service, and others. These organizations are massive, due in large part to the very broad scope of the duties required, often on a global level. In large part due to this, the positions require many different levels of education and training. These positions are paid on a GS scale from 1 to 15. 1 ranging from $ 17,540 – $21,944 to 15 ranging from $ 98,156 – $127,604.

Often, after retirement or in lateral moves, these law enforcement personnel move to private agencies after their first career. These positions normally start at supervisory levels and end with board membership jobs.

All wage and salary statistics gathered from the U.S Dept. of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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