An overview of the law enforcement pay scale


Let’s face it; nobody enters a career in police work for the money.  The law enforcement pay scale isn’t going to buy you a Mercedes or a mansion, but the good news is that it does attract people who genuinely want to do police work for altruistic reasons. The job commands respect in the community, allows you to make a positive contribution to society and has decent pay, job security and benefits.

An overview of the law enforcement pay scale shows that salaries are dependent on region, and the branch of law enforcement in which you work.  Pay also depends on whether the position is within a local, state or federal department, with salaries at the federal level generally being highest.

The law enforcement pay scale for patrol officers with the police and sheriff’s department shows that they earn anywhere from $30,000 to $79,000 per year. Police supervisors earn an average of about $75,000 annually, with the lowest paid making $46,000 and the highest earners taking home $114,000.  The highest wages for supervisory positions in police departments were in the federal government positions.  Second in line in earnings are state positions and third are local positions.

The law enforcement pay scale for detectives and criminal investigators is an average of $61,000 yearly.  The lowest paid detectives and investigators earn $36,000 and the top earners make just less than $98,000.  Again, the law enforcement pay scale for these positions is highest at the federal level, with state and local governments coming in second and third in earnings.

For fish and game wardens, the law enforcement pay scale ranges from $30,400 to $81,000.  The median annual wage for this position is $49,000.  The highest wage earners for fish and game wardens work for state government, with federal and local governments coming in second and third in earnings.

The lowest paid workers on the law enforcement pay scale are parking enforcement workers.  Their annual salary comes in at an average of $32,000.  The earnings of parking enforcement police ranges anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.  Parking enforcement workers earn less than patrol police and detectives who put themselves in harm’s way in order to fulfill their duties.

These salary amounts don’t take into consideration the amount of overtime pay that adds to the law enforcement pay scale of people in police work.  Detectives, in particular, and police who do criminal investigations generally rack up the most overtime pay which adds significantly to their total annual earnings.



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