Whoop, whoop. That's the sound of the police. Oh, wait. It's just you. Being a police officer isn't easy. You'll go through so many emotions, all in one shift. From feeling fulfilled to depressed and even satisfied, there's no telling what your day will bring you. But, there's one thing that will never change. Doughnuts will always be there for you.

That's another thing. You'll probably get sick of the doughnut jokes. But that's part of the job, so you'll have to learn to cope with it. Maybe lean into the skid. Even though sometimes you'll want to yell at the person for making such a joke because you're super tired.

Why are you super tired? Oh, that's because you'll be working some pretty crazy hours. Maybe you'll take a couple overnight shifts. Or maybe you'll have a weekend shift. Either way, criminals don't just stop because the moon comes out. So that means you don't either.

What Does a Police Officer Do

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

Learn more about what a Police Officer does

How To Become a Police Officer

Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before completing a period of on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualification standards. A felony conviction or drug use may disqualify a candidate.

Learn More About How To Become a Police Officer

Police Officer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Police Officer

Police Officers in America make an average salary of $52,638 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $71,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $38,000 per year.
Average Police Officer Salary
$52,638 Yearly
$25.31 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Police Officer

The role of a police officer includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general police officer responsibilities:

  • Perform crime prevention and detection activities enforcing federal, state
  • Patrols a designated area of the city to preserve law
  • Working under a police sergeant, perform all security

There are several types of police officer, including:

Correction Officer


While you might think that as a correction officer, a main part of your job is to correct people, it's not necessarily true. I mean you don't want the grammar police guarding the jails, do you? Instead, correction officers are there to keep an eye over those who have either been arrested and are waiting for their trial, or have already been sentenced a time to serve in jail or prison.

I'm going to give it to you straight. This position is one of the most dangerous jobs, as it has one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses out of all occupations. Sometimes you may have to deal with a confrontational inmate. Or two. On top of that, you'll probably have to work crazy hours because there "ain't no rest for the wicked."

  • Average Salary: $39,369
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Deputy Sheriff


Deputy sheriffs are essentially responsible for keeping life ordered and civil. They patrol their designated areas to prevent crime, investigate illegal activities, and arrest offenders. They supervise detainees in county jails, prepare documents for court cases, and respond to emergency situations, such as accidents, medical emergencies, or missing people.

Supervising law enforcement staff is also their responsibility. But all dynamic and exciting duties aside, deputy sheriffs have to take care of administrative tasks as well. They have to log daily activities and submit reports on the work of their department to the authorities they respond to.

If you want to become a deputy sheriff, the most important thing is to have a clean criminal record. Everything else comes after that, like a high school diploma, a driver's license, perhaps some military experience, or even a degree in criminal justice. 72% of people working as deputy sheriffs find their work makes a difference and if you believe that, you too can get there, regardless of any requirements.

  • Average Salary: $50,143
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Patrol Officer


Patrol officers maintain order and protect the community by enforcing laws. They have numerous responsibilities including protecting life and property through the enforcement of laws and regulations, proactively patrolling assigned areas, responding to calls for police service, and conducting preliminary and follow-up criminal and traffic investigations.

They conduct reviews, prepare written reports and field notes of investigations and patrol activities, arrest and process crimininals, and testify in court. They perform emergency duties during adverse weather conditions, exercise judgement in determining when to use force and to what degree, and operate a law enforcement vehicle day and night.

A patrol officer has humanity, respect for human life and displays dignity and compassion to everyone, professionalism, integrity, courage, training and certification in firearms, and knowledge of first aid and CPR. They have knowledge of defensive and arrest tactics, federal, state and city laws and ordinances, as well as modern policing principles.

A high school diploma is the basic requirement in terms of education. They earn a salary of $25,735 a year or $12.37 an hour. This career's growth is at 5% and will produce 37,500 new job opportunities by 2028.

  • Average Salary: $35,621
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Police Officer Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active police officer jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where police officers earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Police Officer Jobs By State

Police Officer Education

Police Officer Majors

Police Officer Degrees


48.5 %


26.5 %

High School Diploma

10.7 %

Top Colleges for Police Officers

1. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI • Private

In-State Tuition




3. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. University of New Haven

West Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition




5. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




6. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




7. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition




8. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




9. University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT • Private

In-State Tuition




10. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Police Officer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 27.4% of police officers listed patrol on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and empathy are important as well.

  • Patrol, 27.4%
  • Public Safety, 6.4%
  • Law Enforcement Agencies, 5.4%
  • Emergency Situations, 4.8%
  • Field Training, 3.7%
  • Other Skills, 52.3%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Police Officer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Police Officer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Police Officer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume
Police Officer Resume

Police Officer diversity

Police Officer Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among police officers, 16.8% of them are women, while 83.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among police officers is White, which makes up 60.0% of all police officers.

  • The most common foreign language among police officers is Spanish at 70.5%.

Online Courses For Police Officer That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  

1. Hot Topics in Criminal Justice


The American criminal justice system is in need of reform. We incarcerate too many people. We pay insufficient attention to scientific advances that can help separate out the most and least culpable and dangerous. We grant the police far too much power to use force and technological surveillance. As a way of thinking about dealing with these problems, this course examines two over-arching issues: What should we do with people who have committed crime, and how should we identify who they are? On...

2. Introduction to International Criminal Law


-- About the Course -- From the Nuremberg trial to the case against Saddam Hussein, from the prosecution of Al-Qaeda terrorists to the trial of Somali pirates – no area of law is as important to world peace and security as international criminal law. Taught by one of the world’s leading experts in the field, this course will educate students about the fundamentals of international criminal law and policy. We will explore the contours of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes,...

3. Criminal Law in 120 Minutes: A Fast Track Course


A 2 hour fast track summary of Criminal Law, targeting all common law LL.B examinations!...

Show More Online Courses For Police Officer
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time

Best States For a Police Officer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a police officer. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. Police officers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $78,839. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $73,316 and $70,488, respectively. While police officers would only make an average of $67,408 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. California

Total Police Officer Jobs: 5,849
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Washington

Total Police Officer Jobs: 1,131
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Oregon

Total Police Officer Jobs: 631
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Police Officers

How Do Police Officers Rate Their Jobs?


5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

2 Stars

1 Star

Police Officer Reviews

Oct 2020

I enjoy the freedom I’m allowed.


How political the job has become. There isn’t a correct way to do your job. Almost everyone wants to get you fired. It’s annoying.

Working as a Police Officer? Share your experience anonymously.
Overall Rating*
Career Growth
Work/Life balance

Top Police Officer Employers

Most Common Employers For Police Officer

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Police Department$62,570$30.08110
2City of Tucson$57,419$27.6176
3The School District of Philadelphia$56,083$26.9678
4LAPD HQ$54,919$26.40269
5City of Philadelphia$54,912$26.40137
6U.S. Department of Defense$54,215$26.0659
7Puerto Rico Supplies$54,071$26.0090
8USAF Police Alumni Association$53,417$25.6871
9US Air Conditioning Distributors$53,333$25.64179
10United States Marine Corps$53,305$25.6372

Police Officer Videos

Becoming a Police Officer FAQs

Corrections Officer Vs. Police Officer

A corrections officer is a law enforcement agent who is in charge of individuals who have been arrested, while a police officer is a law enforcement agent who works in the community to ensure safety.

Public Safety Officer Vs. Police Officer

A public safety officer serves the public to ensure the protection of persons and property, while a police officer is responsible for maintaining public order, enforcing the law, and preventing and detecting criminal activity.

State Trooper Vs. Police Officer

A state trooper is an officer who works for the state, while a police officer works for a specific city within their state.

A state trooper serves as highway patrol or as part of other state-wide agency programs. They are responsible for ensuring that people abide by state and federal laws. They also help protect the governor and state capital complex. Their primary goal is to reduce the number of collisions and promote safety on the roadways.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a police officer. That is the time it takes to learn specific police officer skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 7 to 9 years years to become a police officer.

Constable Vs Police

A constable is a law enforcement official that is able to enforce both criminal and civil laws, while the police are a law enforcement force of a specific town or city.

The title of constable can mean different things in different jurisdictions. In some places, it refers to a title or rank in law enforcement, while in others, it refers to a specific assignment for certain law enforcement officers.

Sheriff Vs Police

A sheriff is a law enforcement professional that works for a county's sheriff's department, while the police are a law enforcement force of a specific town or city.

A sheriff enforces the law in a certain county within a state. Their duties include investigating crimes, arresting criminals, and responding to emergency situations within a specific county in a state.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being A Cop?

The pros are being able to help others, experience community pride, build fraternal relationships, job satisfaction, and good benefits like early retirement, while the cons are the cost of emotional and physical stress, dangerous work environments, and long hours at low pay.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being A K9 Officer?

The pros of being a K9 officer include the bond formed between a handler and their K9 partner and the knowledge that you are helping to keep your community safe, while the cons include a challenging and demanding job.

What Is The Police Hierarchy?

The police hierarchy may vary from department to department, but most have Police Technicians at the bottom and Chiefs of Police at the top.

Here is a list of common police hierarchy starting with the lowest level position, ascending in higher rank order:

Deputy Sheriff Vs. Police Officer

A deputy sheriff is a lawman that works for a county's sheriff's department, while a police officer is a policeman in a police department of a specific town or city.

A deputy sheriff is a law enforcement professional who enforces the laws of a specific county within a state. They are tasked with investigating crimes, arresting criminals, and responding to emergency situations within a specific county of the state.

Peace Officer Vs. Police Officer

A peace officer is someone who can be a member of a police force, while a police officer is someone who is always a member of a police force.

A peace officer is a type of police officer who enforces laws and ordinances. They may also investigate crimes. Most peace officers' tasks are making arrests, conducting investigations, and issuing citations for traffic violations. Responding to emergency calls, such as domestic violence incidents or fires is also within a peace officer's purview.

Sheriff Vs. Police Officer

A sheriff is a law enforcement professional that works for a county's sheriff's department, while a police officer is a policeman in a police department of a specific town or city.

A sheriff enforces the law in a specific county within a state. Their duties include investigating crimes, arresting criminals, and responding to emergency situations.

Search For Police Officer Jobs