Law Enforcement Jobs: Your Guide to What, Where and How Much

People go to college for all kinds of reasons. 

Some want to share in the camaraderie of a campus. Some people want to feel the satisfaction of achieving a scholastic goal. Many others are looking for positive change in their lives and have taken the initiative to go after it.

But, let’s be honest, a big reason for going to college is to improve your chances of finding a job – a job that you’re proud of and one that will afford you some level of personal and financial stability.

Concepts like camaraderie, achieving goals, searching for positive change and taking initiative are the cornerstones of police work in America. If they resonate with you, maybe you should consider turning your criminal justice degree into a law enforcement job.

Here is what you need to know to get started.

CJ Jobs Map

The job information included (see map) comes from an analysis of 47,104 law enforcement jobs posted online over the past year.* The South region is clearly the frontrunner for potential job seekers with around 8,300 more jobs available than its nearest regional competitor.

Half of the top 10 states in greatest need of new recruits are located in the South, which likely explains its strong showing in the job data. But before you pack your bags and head for the Mason-Dixon line, it’s important to note that the South also reported the nation’s highest rates of both property crime and violent crime, according to the most recent FBI statistics.

The top markets for law enforcement jobs in each region include:

  • West
    • California – 4,874 jobs
    • Arizona – 1,451 jobs
    • Colorado1,013 jobs
  • South
    • Virginia – 4,245 jobs
    • Texas – 3,591 jobs
    • Florida – 1,985 jobs
  • Northeast
    • New York – 2,145 jobs
    • Pennsylvania – 1,268 jobs
    • Massachusetts –1,257 jobs
  • Midwest
    • Ohio – 1,164 jobs
    • Illinois – 1,083 jobs
    • Missouri – 957 jobs

What types of law enforcement jobs are available?

Finding your law enforcement job is more than just knowing where to look, it’s also about know what to look for. Our analysis revealed some important information on the types of law enforcement jobs that are available to new recruits.

With 11,423 listings over the past 365 days, entry-level sheriff and police patrol officer positions showed to be the most widely available law enforcement jobs in America. Listings for private investigators and correctional officers ranked second and third overall with 8,231 and 7,439 openings, respectively. Listings for intelligence analysts followed closely behind with 7,293 openings. Rounding out the top five types of law enforcement jobs available nationwide was police/fire/ambulance dispatchers with 4,877 positions. The rest of the top 10 include:

  • Supervisory correctional officers – 2,873 jobs
  • Criminal investigators & special agents – 1,582 jobs
  • Probation officers – 1,417 jobs
  • Forensic science technicians – 1,223 jobs
  • Transit & railroad police – 390 jobs

This gives you an idea of which law enforcement jobs are most prevalent. It also offers insight into which ones have the highest turnover and which are the most competitive.

How much do law enforcement jobs pay?

The salary information on the map represents the average annual income of law enforcement professionals working these jobs today. It was reported in our jobs analysis as “real-time” salary.

With 11,423 listings over the past 365 days, entry-level sheriff and police patrol officer positions showed to be the most widely available law enforcement jobs in America. 

It’s interesting to note that the highest paying positions – detectives and forensic scientists – are also those that require the most experience and education. It is not surprising then that they also rank near the bottom in terms of nationwide job openings.

It should be noted, though, that the salary information listed here is not adjusted for geographic location. It is provided to give job seekers an idea of what their annual salary could be.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recognizes that it is more expensive to live and work in some cities as opposed to others. As such, it mandates each state adjust its salaries to reflect what it calls “locality pay.” Here is a breakdown of the OPM’s salary guidelines by metro area.

For up-to-date salary information for all industries, check out www.salary.com.

The takeaway

Law enforcement jobs are out there. Whether you’re looking to become a special agent, forensic science technician or corrections officer, the outlook for the industry is bright. 

But it takes schooling. Earning a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will not only give you a better understanding of the field, it’ll help you distinguish yourself when it comes time to apply.

If there are jobs we missed or you’re looking to do a bit more research, check out our Criminal Justice Career Outlook guide.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Jeff is the Inbound Marketing Editor at Collegis Education. He oversees all of the blog and newsletter content for Rasmussen College. As a writer he tries to create articles that educate, encourage and motivate current and future students. He endeavors to inform, to question, to answer, to challenge and, ultimately, to help students find the people they want to become.

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