By Diane Turner
People who work as a police officer often say that this is one of the most rewarding careers in the public sphere. These individuals will support their community by protecting individuals and handling emergencies. People often turn to careers as police officers because there is a lot of room for career advancement if they stay with the industry for a long period of time. In addition to a solid benefits package and a solid police officer salary, individuals who choose career as police officers experience a wide ranged, rewarding career.
Supportive Roles for Police Officers
Police community support officers (PCSO) will still earn a comparative police officer salary, though the responsibilities will be slightly different than those of a standard police officer. These individuals are typically expected to guard crime scenes, provide advice for crime prevention within communities, provide support for front-line officers or perform door to door inquiries about recent events. They may need to intervene to prevent individuals from performing illegal activities. Support officers will be given a specific patrol beat in addition to assisting at crime scenes or major public events. PCSOs will be employed full time and are typically increased in rank over time.
In addition to working as a standard police officer there are opportunities for individuals to work as a special constable. These individuals earn a similar police officer salary and will wear a similar uniform to those in standard service. Special constables volunteer for at least four hours a week based on their availability and the needs of their community. These individuals earn the same opportunities for advancement in the ranks should they decide to dedicate more of their time to the program.
Working as a Police Officer
Even in a small town, police officers will be expected to take on a great deal of responsibility. They will be expected to protect private citizens from violence, support victims of crimes or accidents and provide them with assistance when these events occur, provide reassurance to the community, investigate crimes and take wrongdoers into custody. Work as a police officer is very physical in nature and will require a great deal of intuition to make serious decisions very quickly. A great deal of training is required to take part in the force.
The amount of responsibility a police officer can take on will increase as they increase in rank. Higher ranked police officers may also be expected to take on more of a political role within the community. The specific requirements of these individuals will vary based on the nature of the community where they are employed.
Those that are working in a large city will be expected to take on more responsibility, overseeing several large jurisdictions with several officers of varying ranks beneath them. Those working in smaller communities may need to take on more responsibility themselves because they will not have a lot of people or resources available to manage day to day operations.
Police officers are often asked to work long or inconvenient hours. Every jurisdiction will need to have officers available at all hours of the day, every day of the year to ensure that someone is available when emergencies occur. It is not uncommon for officers to be required to work overnight or on holidays, particularly if the community is having a special event that will require security. Those willing to take on more of these inconvenient shifts can typically earn overtime benefits as compensation.
Salaries and Employment Compared to Other Industries
Those that are volunteering will not earn a police officer salary. Others can expect to earn an increasing salary based on their rank. There are typically specific step up salaries that can be reached with specific promotions or time spent with the community. The average police officer can expect to earn $50,639 throughout the country. Sergeants can expect to earn an average salary of $64,615 and police chiefs can expect to earn a $97,018 average salary.
Because police officers are expected to take on a very physical job, it is not uncommon for these individuals to retire or take on positions with lesser responsibilities at a younger age than other fields. To help compensate for this, a police officer salary is typically supplemented with a pension program and strong benefits. Individuals that are acting as police officers in areas that are dangerous will typically be offered a strong health care package that will help them address any potential injuries on the job.
There are not many careers that compare to the responsibility of a police officer. In general, officers tend to earn higher salaries than firefighters or paramedics. Those with higher ranks can earn salaries that are similar to those in the medical field. Police officers typically earn a much higher salary than those working in other public service industries such as urban planning.