Police Officer


Police officers have sworn by oath to protect local communities for the greater good. They are entrusted to respond to emergencies and reduce crime in their respective regions. There are many areas of interest in law enforcement, so the day-to-day schedule can be very different for each specialty.

Uniformed police officers issue traffic tickets, respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, arrest suspects and testify in court.  Some specialty units include canine, narcotics and special weapons and tactics (SWAT).  Police officers can also promote to detectives, who investigate crimes by interviewing witnesses, interrogating suspects and collecting evidence.

It is often a grueling schedule with long hours and overnight shifts. It can also be physically demanding. Applicants should realize the dangers and risks, as many law enforcement officers are injured and even killed in the line of duty.


An applicants must have a high school diploma and be a U.S. citizen. Police officers need some college coursework, although detectives must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in criminal justice. Applicants must pass physical and written exams, drug tests and a series of interviews. Recruits attend a department’s police academy. Extra experience in security or the military will improve hiring prospects, as well as knowing a second language.


Police officers earn an average of $56,980 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Detectives earn higher yearly wages, a median of $74,000, in comparison to $55,000 for patrol officers. The top 10 percent earn more than $93,000 each year. It’s common for agencies to pay for uniforms and there are a lot of opportunities for overtime pay. Government employers offer substantial retirement options, and due to the physical demand of the job, most officers retire at a younger age than their counterparts in the private sector.


Police and detectives held about 780,000 jobs in 2012, and employment is expected to grow 5 percent until 2022. Job security is stable, as public agencies will always have a substantial budget for public safety.

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