Skip to Main Content

Careers in Criminal Justice: Police and Detectives


Police and Detectives


YouTube Video

Quick Facts: Police and Detectives
2020 Median Pay $67,290 per year
$32.35 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 795,000
Job Outlook, 2020-30 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 51,700

What Police and Detectives Do

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

Work Environment

Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Police and sheriff's patrol officers and transit and railroad police have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Working around the clock in shifts is common.

How to Become a Police Officer or Detective

The education typically required to enter the occupation ranges from a high school diploma to a college degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before completing on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.


The median annual wage for police and detectives was $67,290 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 67,100 openings for police and detectives are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for police and detectives.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of police and detectives with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about police and detectives by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Police and Detectives, Accessed 16 Dec. 2021.

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Celebrating 75 Years of Excellence!

Westchester Community College provides accessible, high quality and affordable education to meet the needs of our diverse community. We are committed to student success, academic excellence, workforce development, economic development and lifelong learning.

Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

75 Grasslands Road
Valhalla, NY 10595
Tel: (914) 606-6600