Career Detail

Police Officer
“To Serve and Protect”
Help ensure public safety, protect peoples lives and property from crime, and fight against criminal activity.
The Job
Daily activities differ depending on occupational specialty and whether they are working for a local, State, or Federal agency. Uniformed police officers have general law enforcement duties. They may identify, pursue, and arrest suspected criminals; resolve problems within the community; and enforce traffic laws. Police officers are often the first responders to other public safety issues and emergencies. State police officers, sometimes called State troopers or highway patrol officers, arrest criminals Statewide and patrol highways to enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations. Regardless of job duties or location, police officers at all levels must write reports and maintain meticulous records that will be needed if they testify in court. Police officers are usually scheduled to work a 40 work week, but overtime is common. Junior officers frequently work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Work Environment
Varies greatly. Can be dangerous and stressful.
College Majors
criminal justice, police science, administration of justice, or public administration
Minimum Qualifications
Usually must have at least a high school education, and some departments require 1 or 2 years of college coursework or, in some cases, a college degree.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Physically fit, alert, honesty, sound judgment, integrity, and a sense of responsibility.
Quick Facts
  • Applicants with college training in police science or military police experience will have the best opportunities.
  • More info: National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association, Internet:
Compensation and Outlook
Police and sheriff's patrol officers had median annual wages of $51,410 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $38,850 and $64,940. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,070, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,680. Median annual wages were $46,620 in Federal Government, $57,270 in State government, $51,020 in local government and $43,350 in educational services.
Comments and Updates
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Job Growth Outlook
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