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Police Officer

Career Overview

Uniformed local police officers have general law enforcement duties. These begin with a patrol assignment, which may lead to handling an auto accident, intervening in a domestic dispute, responding to a burglary or robbery call, or providing first aid to a stricken pedestrian.

Officers are expected to log their daily activities and fill out reports on any incidents in which they are involved. In some cities officers patrol alone; in others they are two to a squad car. Some cities have police officers walking beats again in neighborhoods or urban districts where a police presence on the sidewalk makes a difference. Community relations has also become an important component of police work.


Most police departments would like to see evidence of some college experience on an applicant's resume. An associates degree in criminal justice or a related field is often acceptable, especially when combined with relevant experience. Some departments want officers with no relevant experience to have a bachelors degree. Education plays an important part in moving up the police promotions ladder as well.

Current Employment

According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were 861,000 patrol officers and detectives in the United States in 2006. For purposes of the statistical inventory, many police officers who have moved into the plain-clothes inspector job are counted as detectives.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for individuals who want to be police officers is excellent. While there are not great numbers of new positions opening up, the opportunities for entry level police officers stem from retirements and from officers who either are promoted or who move on to work at the state or federal level.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $13.86  $28.820
Median Salary  $23.86  $49,630
Highest 10%  $36.37  $75,650

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