|What is this job like?||Back to Top|
Police officers and detectives enforce laws. They catch criminals. They collect evidence. They sometimes testify in court. Others patrol set areas to prevent crime. Some patrol and give out traffic tickets. Some direct traffic.
Most police officers wear uniforms. However, detectives and special agents often work in regular clothes. Most detectives are part of regular police forces, but detectives usually have separate duties from police officers.
Most police officers work on foot or ride in cars, but a few ride horses, bikes, or motorcycles. Some work in boats on rivers and in harbors. Some police work with dogs.
Most police officers and detectives work at least 40 hours a week. When they work longer, they get extra pay. Because police work is a 24-hour-a-day job, some police have to work nights and weekends. They have to be ready to go to work at all times. Police officers may work very long hours on a case. Some have to travel a lot, often on short notice.
Some police officers work outdoors in all kinds of weather. Some take very big risks when they chase criminals in cars or when they make an arrest. Good training, teamwork, and good equipment keep police officers safe.
|How do you get ready?||Back to Top|
Most police officers must be U.S. citizens. They must be healthy, strong, and of good character. To get a job, a person must pass a written test, be at least a high school graduate, and have some work experience.
Some local, special, and State police units want recruits to have some college training. All Federal police agencies require a college degree. Many police units encourage new recruits to take college courses in police work.
|How much does this job pay?||Back to Top|
In May of 2008, police officers had average yearly wages of $52,810. Police get paid for overtime. Police also receive paid vacation, sick leave, and medical and life insurance. Often they get money for uniforms. Many retire at half-pay after 25 or 30 years of service.
|How many jobs are there?||Back to Top|
There were about 661,500 police officers, sheriffs, and detectives in 2008. Almost 9 out of 10 worked for local government. The rest worked for state or federal police agencies.
|What about the future?||Back to Top|
Employment of police officers and detectives is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2018. Many people are attracted to police work because it is challenging and offers an opportunity to serve their communities. Persons with college training in police science or who have military experience, or both, should have the best chances for a job.
|Are there other jobs like this?||Back to Top|
|Where can you find more information?||Back to Top|
More BLS information about police officers and detectives can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Handbook also shows where to find out even more about this job.
Last Modified Date: March 19, 2010