Highest Paying Law Enforcement Jobs
If you ask most law enforcement professionals, they will tell you that salary was not their main career motivation. However, this does not mean there are no high-paying jobs in law enforcement. So, is law enforcement a good career? If you believe in protecting others and upholding the law, and want an exciting career, then the answer is “yes”. In addition to the honor and duty of being an officer, there are many high-paying jobs in law enforcement.
Jobs are presented according to average salary, based on current Payscale data.
31 of the Highest Paying Police Jobs in 2022
1. Judges and Magistrates
Judges and magistrates preside over court hearings and make final decisions based on the facts of each case. In order to be hired as a judge or magistrate, most states require that the candidate have at least a Bachelor’s degree and a modest amount of experience. Contrary to what some people believe, not all judges have law degrees. Most do have some degree of legal training, however. In many counties, judges and magistrates are elected along with other city officials.
Judges and magistrates who have established a good reputation can expect to be in high demand, even in small to moderate size communities that often share a judge or magistrate. The average pay for a judge or magistrate with moderate experience is around $170,000 per year. The more experience and education a judge has, the more money they will make on a year to year basis. In small communities, judges and magistrates will make less money and will more than likely be asked to travel and take on juris duties in more than one community.
2. General Counsel
A person who wishes to become a general counsel should have at the very least a Bachelor’s degree in political science, psychology, economics, and possibly even law. In order to attain the position of general counsel, the candidate will need to be certified. Attorneys must pass the bar exam in their state of record if they want to be given serious consideration for a general counsel position. The duties of a general counsel involve working with corporate heads during contract negotiations, reviewing mergers, and overseeing many different legal activities. A general counsel can find work in almost every industry.
A person in the role of general counsel can expect to earn an average salary of $153,000 per year. The demand for general counsels is modest in larger metropolitan areas but they can find work in almost every industry. Some areas pay more than others, but the demand is there. The more experience a general counsel has, the more they will earn over the course of their careers.
3. FBI Agent
To become an FBI agent, candidates must have at least two years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. If a candidate has a Masters’ degree or higher, only one year of experience is needed. Applicants must have a driver’s license and at least six months of experience driving a car. FBI agents solve crimes, protect the public at large, and enforce the law on a federal level.
The demand for FBI agents is high. There are FBI offices in every state, so it is plausible that a person can find work relatively close to their homes. The average pay for an FBI agent with a modest amount of experience is $138,000 per year.
4. Criminal Lawyer
To become a criminal lawyer, a candidate must have earned a Juris Doctor degree and have passed the bar exam in their home state. They must then obtain a state license, after which they must complete continuing education courses each year to maintain the license and keep it in good standing. A criminal lawyer uses their legal skills to represent individuals who have been charged with a crime, fighting for a just and fair conclusion to the case.
Criminal lawyers are in demand across the United States. Their pay depends on many factors, including location, cost of living, and experience. Skilled criminal lawyers can make over $100,000 per year.
5. Prison Warden
To be hired as a prison warden, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in criminology, social work, or criminal justice. It is beneficial to have a degree in business management, and an even better asset is a corrections management degree. The job duties of a prison warden include managing both the business and corrections aspects of the prison so that it runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
The average salary for a prison warden is $85,000 to $90,000 per year. The job market for prison warden jobs is steady. Although there are many prisons across the country, the turnover rate for wardens is low. To increase your chances of being hired as a prison warden, apply for an entry or mid-management level job and work your way up through the ranks. This will provide you with the experience you need if a warden job becomes available.
6. First Line Supervisor
A first line supervisor’s primary goal is to get to know and understand the workers they oversee. As a supervisor, it is their responsibility to pay close attention to how their employees work. They must be able to motivate their employees and keep them on track and working efficiently. The only real requirement that needs to be met in order to become a first line supervisor is a high school diploma or GED. While an Associate’s degree in some type of management or critical thinking degree program may be preferable, it isn’t necessary.
The average yearly salary of a first line supervisor is approximately $74,000. With more experience, first line supervisors have the potential to earn more. Promotions and opportunities for advancement, including more responsibility and higher pay, are available to those who excel in this career. Going back to school and earning a degree may open up management opportunities.
7. Border Patrol Agent
Border patrol agents have the primary goal of keeping America’s borders as secure as possible. While agents are not required to hold a degree, it is recommended that they have a bachelor’s degree in homeland security or criminal justice. Furthermore, work experience, either in law enforcement or as a security guard, is beneficial to success as a border agent.
Border patrol agents are responsible for patrolling the borders of Mexico and Canada. The job outlook for border patrol agents is positive, especially for those who live in close proximity to the border. Border patrol agents typically earn an annual salary of $65,000 to $70,000, depending on their level of education and experience. With more experience, border patrol agents become eligible for promotions and pay raises.
8. Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators play an important role in society by acting as negotiators between two or more parties in an attempt to resolve a variety of different conflicts. A law degree may be required in some areas, but most only require a Bachelor’s degree in political science, social work, public policy, or business management. Certifications and licensing may add credibility and result in increased job opportunities and higher wages.
Negotiators can find work in almost any location in the country. Individuals who work in this field and have a reputation for offering quality service to each of their clients can expect to earn as much as $64,000 per year on average. The more experience a person gains, the more they will make. Many people who work in this field often choose to open their own business and work for themselves instead of remaining part of a team.
In order to work as a detective, the only educational requirement is a high school diploma or GED. Many departments prefer that their detectives earn a Bachelor’s degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. The hands-on training that a law enforcement officer receives is beneficial if they want to change positions and take on the role of detective. A detective’s primary responsibilities include investigating crimes, monitoring criminal behavior, and interviewing suspects.
A detective with moderate experience and the minimal amount of college education can expect to earn an average of $57,000 per year. However, those with more education and experience will be more successful in this field. Detectives who are diligent and dedicated to their jobs are in high demand and can land the job they are looking for with the right attitude, experience, and education.
10. Probation Officers and Correction Treatment Specialists
Probation officers and correction treatment specialists work with inmates and newly released individuals to provide them with the resources they need to reintegrate into society. A Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or psychology is required for either one of these careers. In some cases, written and oral exams must be passed as well as psychological evaluations. Furthering one’s education by returning to school to get a higher degree is a great idea to pave the way to higher pay rates and management opportunities.
Probation officers and correction treatment specialists can earn an average yearly salary of $53,000 to $56,000, depending on their level of education and amount of experience. There is high demand for new hires in these positions in metropolitan areas and low demand in smaller communities. While there is a need for probation officers in small communities, the demand is not as significant as in larger communities.
11. Security manager
National average salary: $61,960 per year
A security manager is responsible for the safety and security of a company’s assets. They develop and implement security plans and procedures, oversee security operations, and coordinate with other departments to ensure the safety of the company’s employees, customers, and other visitors.
Security managers are responsible for developing strategies and employing tactics to ensure the security of a facility. This may include administering security detail for VIPs, meeting with staff to ensure their safety, and coordinating with other security personnel.
12. Forensic accountant
National average salary: $65,268 per year
Forensic accountants are law professionals who use financial data to find and track monetary spending for recovery purposes. They often work on fraud or other financial cases. They understand how to write reports based on the financial analysis of a case and how to translate the information from that report to clients or lawyers. Forensic accountants also perform duties related to bookkeeping processes. They are active members in a court, creating reports and statements for lawyers to use during investigations.
13. Police sergeant
National average salary: $72,497 per year
A police sergeant is a law enforcement officer responsible for managing patrol officers and agents within their jurisdictions. They review the performance of their employees during disciplinary actions or when apprehending suspects. Police sergeants help improve employee performance through counseling and review. They also plan, manage and develop training programs as needed. Additionally, police sergeants may provide specialized pedestrian and traffic control services during emergency situations or ceremonies.
National average salary: $78,043 per year
Judges preside over court proceedings and are the sole signing authority for search warrants, subpoenas, restraining orders and other legal documents. Judges are the final arbiter of the accused, deciding whether they’re to be set free or given lawful consequences for their actions. They understand how to evaluate court evidence, listen to lawyers and render decisions with authority as a judge.
Judges are responsible for a number of duties, including docketing orders and drafting different witness testimonies. They must be able to listen to a jury and make an unbiased decision during the ruling of a court case.
15. Forensic analyst
National average salary: $82,395 per year
A forensic analyst is a specialist in evidence collection who works to determine the cause or other details concerning a crime scene. They extract and analyze DNA on the site, gathering evidence from placement and substance to convict offenders. They maintain a chain of custody and quality assurance as they analyze crime scene findings. Forensic analysts also use various instruments or tools within a laboratory. With the expert use of chemical agents, forensic analysts can identify objects by uncovering serial numbers or evaluating surface features.
National average salary: $82,543 per year
A lawyer is a professional who represents and advises individuals concerning legal issues and case disputes. After passing a state bar exam, lawyers are licensed to practice law in their state. In court, lawyers uphold the law to the best of their ability. They also spend time outside of the courtroom making cases, researching evidence, collecting information and speaking to clients.
As a case progresses, lawyers may develop law and reporting documents for their records. Lawyers typically pass the bar and state licensure exams and attend law school in order to become professionals in the field.
17. Judge advocate
National average salary: $92,612 per year
A judge advocate is a representation for those who do not have one in court. They are responsible for speaking on behalf of the person during different cases, such as familial or criminal court hearings. Judge advocates act with many law enforcement employees, including lawyers, judges, juries and staff, while representing a civilian. They may investigate a client’s health care needs and determine the next best steps for the client and their case. Judge advocates are experts at communication and ensure that anything they say is within the client’s best interest and intent.
18. Criminal psychologist
National average salary: $95,438 per year
Criminal psychologists study the emotional, cognitive and social processes of a person by observing how people act and relate to one another. They work in different settings, managing criminal clients or those who are in custody for trial. Psychologists in law enforcement also work in prisons as general psychologists to help those inside work toward more acceptable behaviors.
19. Chief of police
National average salary: $96,060 per year
A chief of police is responsible for the overall operations of a police department. This includes coordinating, supervising and evaluating all departmental operations, as well as developing and enforcing training programs for all law enforcement personnel. In addition, chiefs of police serve as the senior leadership during emergency situations and combat objectives. They may also conduct investigations into ongoing cases of fraud, financial identity theft and forgery.
20. Victim Advocates
Victim Advocates often work alongside lawyers and attorneys to help clients cope with and recover from trauma suffered as a result of crime or abuse. Their skills can be instrumental in solving cases quicker and bringing criminals to justice. Victim Advocates typically have a master’s degree in sociology, criminal justice, or psychology.
21. Secret Service Agents
The Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency that is primarily responsible for safeguarding the national treasury and protecting the President of the United States. Secret Service agents typically have extensive prior experience working at other law enforcement agencies and receive additional training at purpose-built facilities. Positions within the agency are highly competitive, with annual salaries ranging from $100,000 to $171,000.
22. Dea Agent
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) works closely with the Department of Justice (DoJ) to combat drug-related crime, including the illegal use of pharmaceutical drugs and dangerous chemicals. Candidates who hold a master’s degree may be subject to extensive background checks. DEA Agent salaries typically range from $40,000 to $92,000 per year, and may increase as employees progress through internal training programs.
23. ATF Investigators and Special Agents
The ATF employs highly trained agents who investigate and combat crimes related to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives. Successful candidates must undertake rigorous training and prepare for long hours, extensive travel, and high exposure to risk. Investigators earn between $30,113 and $59,316 per year, while Special Agents earn between $78,681 and $102,288 per year.
24. ICE Agents
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for investigating international border-related crimes, such as human trafficking, illegal immigration and money laundering. The agents assigned to this task will have prior experience in law enforcement with at least a bachelor’s degree. Those with a master’s degree will require less experience for the higher-paying GL-9 level positions. ICE Agent salaries range between $29,300 and $76,600 annually.7
25. Private Investigators and Detectives
Private investigators and detectives often have a history in the police force, where they learn the techniques required for conducting interviews, collecting evidence and solving crimes. Many continue to work for law enforcement agencies, while others work independently or join private firms. A typical detective or PI salary ranges from $59,320 to $92,700 annually, or an average of $23 per hour.
26. Federal Marshals
A Federal Marshal is tasked with judicial procedures such as making arrests, overseeing court security and transporting prisoners. Candidates typically have a degree in criminal justice and several years of experience in the force combined with additional in-house training. The average salary for a Federal Marshal is around $45,000 per year.
27. Police Officers
Police officers play a critical role in law enforcement as the first line of defense. They also frequently engage with the public. There are various types of police officers, including local officers, state troopers, deputy sheriffs, fishing and game wardens and special jurisdiction officers. Duties involve patrolling neighborhoods, responding to calls, providing first aid and investigating incidents. The average national salary is $32.50 an hour or $67,600 per annum.
28. Parole Officers
As a parole officer, you will be tasked with ensuring that criminal offenders understand and adhere to the terms of their probation. You will work with various criminal justice departments to act as an intermediary between offenders and judges, helping to ensure successful reintegration into society. The average salary for a parole officer is $46,000 to $71,000 annually.
29. Correctional Officers
Correctional officers play an important role in maintaining safety in courthouses and correctional facilities. The work can be challenging and demanding, but also offers good compensation. A degree in criminal justice can be helpful in securing a position as a correctional officer, although it is not required. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a correctional officer is $47,800, or around $22 per hour.
As a legal secretary or paralegal, you will usually work in a private law firm to provide administrative support for lawyers. The job requires an in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system and involves the preparation of legal documents, affidavits, contracts, and appeals. Your earnings will depend on your experience, but you can expect to make between $46,700 and $106,200 per year.
31. Court Clerks
Court clerks are responsible for administrative tasks related to court proceedings, including assisting judges, lawyers and officers. Common duties include record-keeping, drafting agendas, issuing licenses, collecting fees and preparing dockets. While not required, a criminal justice degree may help you secure a court clerk position, which offers a national average salary of approximately $60,000 or $25 per hour.