Great Reasons to Be a Police Officer

Discover the benefits of working in law enforcement

Officers standing with hands behind
••• Images by Steve Skinner Photography / Getty Images

Law enforcement careers often are heralded for their many intangible benefits, from helping others to serving communities. These are great ideals, but what about the practical benefits of a law enforcement career?

If you're intrigued by the idea of community service but you're wondering whether or not a job as a police officer will be able to provide you with what you're looking for in a career, consider five reasons to work in law enforcement.

1. Benefits

Government jobs often have generous health benefits, even if salaries aren't always equal to equivalent private-sector jobs. This most often means affordable health insurance for police officers and their families.

In law enforcement careers, though, another and often even bigger benefit comes at the end of your career. Due to the stresses and rigors of the job, police officers often are afforded the opportunity to retire earlier than most, at either 20 or 25 years of service, and at a higher accrual rate than most careers offer. This translates to better benefits—sooner.

2. Salary

While it's true that you'll probably never hear a police officer tell you they think they get paid enough for what they do, most departments offer competitive salaries.

The median annual salary for police officers and detectives is more than $63,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018.

Law enforcement officers will typically start out making between $30,000 and $45,000 per year, with many agencies offering additives for differing shifts, length of service, and additional training or expertise. It is possible, depending on your department, to finish out your career earning $75,000 or more. If you choose to promote, you can earn even more.

3. Advancement

Law enforcement organizations provide tremendous opportunities to promote and advance through the ranks. Structures in law enforcement agencies often resemble those of the armed forces. As positions become available, they typically are filled from the lower ranks.

While agencies may sometimes promote someone from outside the department, there often is an objective promotional process for rank-and-file officers. Larger police agencies usually make several promotions throughout the year, meaning there is ample opportunity for motivated individuals to advance their careers.

4. Ongoing Learning

The learning never stops in law enforcement. Because you'll be working in a diverse and dynamic environment, you'll necessarily be learning new tactics and techniques throughout your career. 

Training opportunities exist for a number of topics that can help you excel in your career. Topics include languages, advanced defensive tactics, physical fitness, and more. Virtually any training that you can think of that can aid your career is often made available at no cost to individual officers.

5. Fun

While working as a police officer, it's not uncommon to hear someone utter the phrase "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this!" Sometimes, you may have to drive fast. Sometimes, you may have to chase people on foot.

Working crime scenes, guarding perimeters, and tracking suspects can be so interesting and intriguing that it often doesn't feel like work. Many police activities necessarily bring an adrenaline rush that can keep you excited and enthusiastic about the job far after the incident itself wanes.

Policing is such an interesting line of work that even celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal have dabbled in law-enforcement careers.

Personal enjoyment from a job done professionally, safely, and well is a well-deserved and welcomed side benefit of an already rewarding law enforcement career.

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