What does a Police Officer do?

Police officers are responsible for protecting lives and property by enforcing laws, responding to calls, issuing citations, and making arrests within a designated area. Police officers aim to preserve law and order. Police officers oftentimes advance into roles like police supervisor or detective.

Police officers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Usually, they must also have completed a minimum of 60 college semester hours in criminal justice or a related field. Police officers need to complete a training academy, pass a written and physical certification exam, pass a criminal background check, have a valid driver's license, and be at least 21 years of age. While the requirements to become a police officer might seem extensive, they are in place to ensure only those who are ready are protecting lives. The best police officers are empathetic, very physically fit, and exercise sound judgment.

  • Enforce all relevant codes, ordinances, laws, and regulations
  • Respond to calls for police service, both emergency and nonemergency
  • Patrol assigned locations on foot and by vehicle in order to prevent and discover crime
  • Enforce traffic regulations, recognize violations, and issue citations
  • Secure and investigate crime scenes, and collect and preserve evidence
  • Makes arrests in accordance with proper apprehension techniques
  • Complete appropriate reports, forms, logs, and citations
  • Testify in court when subpoenaed
  • Provide emergency aid as needed
  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required; minimum 60 college semester hours in criminal justice or related field preferred
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Successful completion of police officer certification exam in state of practice
  • Successful completion of police officer training academy in state of practice
  • Current CPR certification
  • Valid driver's license in state of practice
  • Ability to pass a criminal background check
  • Ability to pass a physical agility test
  • Working knowledge of local, state, and federal laws
  • Working knowledge of basic law enforcement terminology, concepts, procedures, and techniques
  • Excellent judgment and physical stamina
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.0 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.4 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Police Officer Salaries

Average Base Pay

$90,489 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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Median: $90K
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Police Officer Career Path

Learn how to become a Police Officer, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Police Officer
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Police Officer Insights

Read what Police Officer professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Enforcement Agent
Apr. 18, 2021

“High turnover because of the pay and little to no movement opportunities within the company.”

Madison Police Department - WisconsinMadison Police Department - Wisconsin
Police Officer
Jul. 29, 2019

“Camaraderie with a good work group can be awesome when everyone is working as a team.”

Greater Manchester PoliceGreater Manchester Police
Police Officer
Aug. 14, 2021

“Poor Pay: 5% extra per hour for out of social hours not including weekends.”

Police Officer
Dec. 9, 2019

“The pay is probably the best you'll find in the region for Police Officers.”

US Coast GuardUS Coast Guard
Law Enforcement Officer
Jan. 23, 2021

“I don't know what it is but a large number of people are overly negative and also only lookout for themselves and their career.”

Staff Officer
May 29, 2020

“Good and Nice place to work”

Greater Manchester PoliceGreater Manchester Police
Police Constable
Apr. 11, 2021

“And it works so I don't know what others are talking about to be perfectly honest.”

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceRoyal Canadian Mounted Police
Police Officer
Mar. 11, 2020

“The job is rewarding and there are great advancement opportunities.”

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Police Officer Interviews

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