What Are the Average Salaries for Law Enforcement Professionals?

As a law enforcement professional, your job would be to keep people safe by making sure everyone abides by laws and regulations. Some types of professionals in this field include police and sheriff's patrol officers, fish and game wardens and detectives and criminal investigators. Read on to learn what kinds of factors can affect your potential earnings in your law enforcement career. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information

Law enforcement professionals and officers generally work for government agencies on either a federal, state or local level. In this profession, you could be an FBI agent, a fish and game warden, an undercover police officer, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigator or a member of a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team.

Your pay can be affected by your level of occupation, employer and your community's budget or government funding. Because you have so many career and geographical choices within this profession, the examples given will illustrate salary data of three categories with figures provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), as of May 2014.

Important Facts about Law Enforcement Professionals

Police and Sherriff's Patrol Officers Fish and Game Wardens Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Key Skills Physical strength, physical stamina Perceptiveness, communication Empathy, good judgment
Required Education High school, some may require college College degree High school, some may require college
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 5% 2% -1%
Work Environment Conflicts with criminals, motor-vehicle pursuits Outdoors, rugged terrain in any weather Physically demanding, stressful and dangerous

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers

The BLS reported that these professionals earned an average wage of $59,560 annually in May 2014. Most were employed by local governments and earned an average wage of $59,430 though many were also employed by state governments and earned an average wage of $65,270. Factoring in locations, you'll see that those who worked in California earned an annual mean wage of $87,520, while those in Mississippi only made $32,740 for the same job.

Fish and Game Wardens

If you prefer the idea of law enforcement in the great outdoors, you could work for the department of fish and game. In this arena, you could work for either the state or federal government, depending on your location. The BLS reported that these professionals earned an average wage of $53,260 in May 2014. Those working for state governments earned an average wage of $54,370, while those working for local governments earned an average wage of $42,160.

Illinois paid the highest salaries with a mean annual figure of $96,880. If you're looking for more employment opportunities, Montana had the highest concentration of employment for fish and game wardens and a mean wage of $40,950 annually.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

These positions generally require years of meritorious service and a promotion. The BLS reported that those who worked as detectives and criminal investigators earned an average wage of $80,540 in May 2014. The federal executive branch of the government paid the highest wages of any sector of the economy, at $105,470 annually. Local governments also employed many of these professionals and paid an average wage of $66,650.

Texas and California led the hiring charts for highest employment levels and offered these professionals average wages of $77,630 and $98,940 respectively. The state that reported the highest earnings in this category was the District of Columbia, where workers averaged $118,170 annually.

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