Law enforcement is one of the most exciting and rewarding career areas you can pursue.
Knowing each day that you make a difference, whether it is for one person or an entire group, can make you feel accomplished.
The wide variety of paths you can take in a law enforcement career is vast.
The amount of money you can earn varies with position, and it also varies depending on where you work in the country.
You can earn more in states like Alaska or California and bigger cities are likely to pay more than small towns.
They can also vary depending on whether you are working on the city, state, or federal level.
Our list of the highest-paying law enforcement jobs is based on the national averages for the positions.
Let’s take a look at the positions that will allow you to make a living doing what you love.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Highest-Paying Law Enforcement Jobs
- 1.1 1. Judges/Magistrates
- 1.2 2. FBI Agent
- 1.3 3. General Counsel
- 1.4 4. Chief of Police
- 1.5 5. Criminal Psychologist
- 1.6 6. Criminal Lawyer
- 1.7 7. Judge Advocate
- 1.8 8. Border Patrol Agent
- 1.9 9. Criminal Investigator
- 1.10 10. Prison Warden
- 1.11 11. Lawyer
- 1.12 12. Forensic Analyst
- 1.13 13. Police Sergeant
- 1.14 14. Police Officer
- 1.15 15. Forensic Accountant
- 1.16 16. Arbitrator/Mediator
- 1.17 17. Security Manager
- 1.18 18. Detective
- 1.19 19. Parole/Probation Officer
- 2 Tips For Getting a Job in Law Enforcement
Highest-Paying Law Enforcement Jobs
Judges can earn $170,000 a year.
Judges have many duties, but their basic job is to weigh evidence, listen to testimony, and make the final decisions on a case based on pure fact.
They are also the sole person to have the authority to issue search warrants, subpoenas, and restraining orders.
Judges must have training and experience in the legal arena.
In some areas, judges are elected.
2. FBI Agent
FBI agents work for the federal government and make on average $138,000 a year.
Most agents must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in some area related to criminal justice.
Many have higher degrees.
The agent’s tasks include investigating crimes, surveillance of suspicious people, making arrests, and determining who is most likely to have committed a crime.
Many of their cases are across state lines.
3. General Counsel
A person tasked as General Counsel earns their yearly $126,283 by working with companies, and sometimes high-ranking individuals.
They give financial legal advice in regard to things like mergers.
They also help individuals and businesses with legal matters surrounding investments and even help a person or business follow the proper legal procedures when setting up a business.
They do not need to be actual lawyers but must have legal educational backgrounds.
4. Chief of Police
The average Chief of Police earns a salary of $96,060 a year.
The person in this position, which is the highest in the police force, is responsible for making sure the entire police force runs smoothly.
They help coordinate and supervise all policies and procedures.
They are also the ones to be looked to for guidance during emergency situations.
5. Criminal Psychologist
A Criminal Psychologist is a specially-trained psychologist who has a background in criminology.
This person studies emotional and social processes that pertain to how inmates think and act.
They serve as therapists to the prison population and help in the planning stages of programs to assist those who are incarcerated.
In some cases, the criminal psychologist gives input into a criminal’s motives when a profile is being made.
They earn $95,438 a year.
6. Criminal Lawyer
A Criminal Lawyer is one of the highest-paid people with a Juris Doctor degree.
They earn an average of $95,000 a year and represent those who are accused of felony crimes such as murder, drugs, and other crimes that might result in either the death penalty or life sentences.
In addition to the JD degree, they must pass the bar exam and gain a license in the state in which they work.
They are also subject to ongoing education in order to keep their license.
7. Judge Advocate
A Judge Advocate, making $92,438 yearly, is sometimes called a Victim’s Advocate.
They represent people in legal situations who don’t have the ability to advocate for themselves.
Many times, the person they represent is a child or challenged adult.
They are tasked with making sure all people involved in a case make the decision that is in their client’s best interest.
8. Border Patrol Agent
A Border Patrol agent makes $90,284 a year.
While there is no actual requirement for more than a high school diploma, having a degree helps you get hired.
The agent patrols the borders of our country, making sure they are safe from illegal entry of people, drugs, or weapons.
We often think of Mexico as being the border protected, but these agents also patrol the Canadian border.
9. Criminal Investigator
Criminal Investigators are often the go-between between police officers, detectives, and emergency personnel.
For their $86,102 a year, they help to solve crimes, serve arrest warrants, and work with other law enforcement and emergency personnel to bring those who commit crimes to justice.
Some investigators specialize and are called in throughout the country to help solve difficult crimes.
10. Prison Warden
A prison warden must be a leader, a business person, and a criminal justice advocate.
Most have a degree in either criminology, social work, or criminal justice, or they may opt for correction management degrees.
The average salary of a prison warden is $85,000 a year.
For this, they must oversee the legal and business aspects of a prison, as well as supervise the guards.
A general lawyer is one who doesn’t represent felony cases.
The net is approximately $82,543 a year.
Many lawyers specialize in such things as taxes, estate planning, or business law.
The lawyer may represent a client in court on cases that aren’t subject to life sentences.
They also help in investigations involving things like fraud or theft.
12. Forensic Analyst
A Forensic Analyst earns $82,396 a year.
This person takes all the physical evidence gathered at crime scenes and analyzes it to find clues leading to the solving of the crime.
They do DNA analysis, look for serial numbers, examine fibers, and research car tracks and footprints.
They also extract fingerprints and analyze things like hair samples.
13. Police Sergeant
The Police Sergeant is the direct supervisor over patrol officers and detectives.
It is their job to evaluate performance, counsel those under them, enact disciplinary action when needed, and teach by providing feedback during performance reviews.
During emergencies or special events, the sergeant may go into the field.
They earn $72,497 annually.
14. Police Officer
Police Officers earn $65,790 a year.
They patrol the streets to watch for suspicious activity.
They also answer calls for crimes that have been committed, engage with the public during special events, and help lead the public away from crime.
They also make arrests when necessary. A Police Officer may patrol on foot, in a cruiser, on a bicycle, and even on horseback.
Some police officers partner with a dog in K-9 units.
15. Forensic Accountant
The person in charge of investigation during cases of fraud or counterfeit money is a Forensic Accountant, who earns $65,268 a year.
His task is mainly to trace the course money has made to find out where it comes from and where it ends up.
They may also be called into a divorce case when there is a lot of money involved and one partner is hiding some of their assets.
The forensic accountant is also called in when a company is missing money.
Making $64,000 annually, mediators or arbitrators are called into legal situations where they can work with all parties involved to hopefully resolve the situation.
They are most often called in during divorce settlements or contract negotiations but may also serve in cases where deals may need to be made during a case.
Another job of the mediator is to step in when there is a personal conflict between personnel and management, such as with sexual harassment, to resolve the issue without taking legal action.
17. Security Manager
A Security Manager supervises the security guards in a particular location.
They may work for large corporations or private employers such as musicians or actors.
Their salary is about $61,960 a year.
The Security Manager makes schedules to coordinate the guards, serves as a mentor, and makes sure the area they work for is safe.
In special cases, the security manager may serve as the main guard.
This occurs in cases of emergencies or situations where extra security is needed, such as during public appearances.
Detectives often only need a high school diploma or GED, but some larger departments may require a Bachelor’s degree.
Detectives can work for police departments or on their own.
When with a police force, their duties include interviewing people and trying to piece together evidence to make an arrest or recover stolen merchandise.
Privately, they may work to flush out those who cheat on their spouse, or cases where private funds are missing, On average, a detective can earn a yearly salary of $57,000.
19. Parole/Probation Officer
Parole and Probation Officers work with convicted criminals.
They earn $54,500 a year and are normally required to have a Bachelor’s degree in either Criminal Justice or Psychology.
It is their job to supervise criminals who are sentenced to probation or newly released from prison.
They conduct regular meetings with the person to help them stay out of trouble.
They may help with drug testing, finding a job, or finding shelter if necessary.
It is their goal to keep the individual out of prison.
Tips For Getting a Job in Law Enforcement
1. Prepare Physically, Mentally, and Financially
Most jobs in law enforcement require at least a Bachelor’s degree and some require a higher one.
In addition, there are special training programs required for some positions.
Make sure you are prepared with your education.
You will also be subjected to physical standards in many of the positions, as well as psychological tests.
Finally, a great number of these positions check your credit score to see how reliable you are.
If you are seeking a law enforcement position, make sure you present as spotless a picture as possible.
2. Do Volunteer Work
Volunteer work always looks good on a resume, and it gives you extra points if the work is with a law enforcement agency.
The same is true for internships.
Military experience is an advantage and joining the police reserves adds appeal to your application.
Find as many opportunities as possible to lend a hand and further your skills.
3. Be Patient
If you are turned down for a position you really want, it can be tempting to look for a different career.
It is rare that a person gets accepted for a law enforcement position.
If possible, ask why you weren’t accepted and work to correct any weaknesses that are mentioned.
Continue getting experience and education.
Consider entering the law enforcement field in a position that you don’t want in order to get a foot in and work your way up.
Whatever you do, don’t give up if this is what you want.