If you are looking for a job in law enforcement it is not sufficient only to check the law enforcement job openings. It is a good idea to get familiar with the different ranks and possibilities for growth within a department as well as with how much a law enforcement officer makes. You also need to be aware that the selection process is neither simple, nor quick, so be prepared to pass several tests and examinations in order to compete and be selected for the job.
One of the possible career paths in law enforcement is to join the sheriff’s department in a county. If this is the possibility you are looking for, then acquiring some more knowledge about the different ranks and expected salary will be of great use to you. The guide below outlines the ranks in a sheriff’s department, as well as those for police departments in the United States. You will also get an idea about the salary you can expect to earn.
The Ranks in the Sheriff’s Department
The duties in the Sheriff’s department are divided between various ranks.
- Deputy or officer is the starting rank within a sheriff’s department. In order to start work as such you need to pass an initial training program. You will have general duties that include patrolling streets and/or highways, and working in the jail;
- Corporal is the next step in the hierarchy. To be promoted as one you need some experience as a deputy or officer. As a corporal you have some responsibility over the officers but not necessarily a supervisory role;
- Sergeant is the first major promotion available to the law enforcement officers in the Sheriff’s department. Your role will be to supervise corporals and deputies and participate in their further training. To be promoted as a sergeant you need to have good communication and leadership skills;
- Lieutenant is the first senior officer in the department. The promotion includes increased responsibilities such as supervision of the officers with lower ranks and reporting directly to the captain of the division you are in;
- To be the Captain in the Sheriff’s department means that you are in charge of a given division, such as criminal investigation, patrol, etc. You are responsible for the entire personnel in your department, as well as for recruiting new officers. You report to and assist your majors with their duties whenever needed;
- Major is a top-management position in the department. You are in charge of several divisions and need to report to the higher ranks;
- Colonel is the next step after a major. In some departments this rank does not exist, so it can be said that the duties of a colonel and major overlap to some extent. In larger departments, there are several colonels who are supervising different departments headed by majors;
- The Chief Deputy Sheriff is the highest rank to which you can be appointed. Your responsibility is to monitor the overall operations of the department and supervise the staff and to report directly to the Sheriff. In some cases, the Chief Deputy is referred to as undersheriff;
- The Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the county. The sheriff is elected for the position and their duties include maintaining county jails, policing unincorporated areas, serving warrants and court papers and providing security to courts in the county. In some areas the Sheriff may also be responsible for evictions or seizing property upon court orders. The term of service varies throughout the states with the most popular being 4 years as it is in 42 states. There is a three-year term in New Jersey, two-year term in Arkansas and New Hampshire and a six-year term in Massachusetts. There are no sheriffs in Alaska and Connecticut. As an elected and sworn law enforcement officer, the sheriff is accountable directly to the constitution of their state, the United States Constitution, statutes and the citizens of their county.
Salary range within the Sheriff’s department
When looking for a job, one of the factors that influence our decision, beside career growth, is the salary we are going to receive. So, if you are planning to work in a Sheriff’s department, here is an idea of what salary you can expect. Keep in mind that there are differences between the departments and the states.
The figures given as per the information submitted on Pay Scale show that the starting salary for a deputy or officer is median $43,270, ranging from $30,270 to $74,086.
The amounts given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016 are a bit higher, showing a median wage of $59,680. According to their statistics the highest paying states are California and New Jersey, while the highest concentration of jobs in the sphere (police and sheriff’s patrol officers) are in the District of Columbia and Mississippi. New York and Los Angeles are the metropolitan areas that offer the highest employment level for this occupation.
The highest position that you can occupy is that of the Sheriff itself. As such you can expect to receive a median pay of $102,705 (according to the data as of October 30, 2017) as per the information provided on Salary.com. The range given is between $96,980-$108,940.
Naturally, your salary will increase with each promotion to a higher rank, along with your responsibilities. Below you will find some more information on which factors can influence an increase in salary.
Salary tiers and promotions
Normally, the salary in each department depends on the rank and years of service of the individual officer as well as on some additional factors such as training, education, special skills, etc. Here is some information about the salary tiers that you can expect:
- Training salary – since training is very important for the implementation of the duties at a Sheriff’s department, recruits do receive a pay reflective of the time they spent at the police academy;
- Entry-level salary – the starting salary for each rank is usually the minimum paid within the department. It is usually adjusted in accordance with the duties the officer has;
- Promotions – often there is a step structure of promotions and salary increases within a sheriff’s department. Naturally, there is a salary increase if you are promoted to a higher rank, however there can be several minor increases in the salary prior to that. This can be due to time served, excellence at the job or as a result of reviews by supervisors;
- Retirement process – there can be a limit on the number of years an officer can serve in a Sheriff’s department. Due to the obligations and difficulties of the law enforcement career, the retirement benefits are quite high and the pension can be as high as 50% of the final salary awarded. Some departments continue to provide health and life insurance in some form even after retirement.
Factors that influence the Sheriff’s salary
There are three main external factors that influence the salary you may receive as a law enforcement officer working in the Sheriff’s Department and even lead to a better rank. These are education, law enforcement experience, and military experience and here is why:
- Education – if you have completed an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree program it means that you have advanced skills and knowledge about communication, law enforcement subject or critical thinking, which will help you better perform your duties. Therefore, the sheriff’s office is willing to pay a bonus to such employees. In some cases, the departments even offer to reimburse tuition fees and offer flexible working time to officers who decide to study part time.
- Law Enforcement Experience – if you have have experience as a law enforcement those skills and training are valuable to the agency you are applying with. This can include a bonus and/or a higher starting salary.
- Military experience – if you are a veteran who has served in the military your experience will be much valued, especially as a deputy sheriff. No matter if you have actual combat experience or no, you have acquired many qualities to help you deal with potentially violent confrontations that may occur while on duty. Besides, veterans are used to taking orders from superiors and know how to serve in a unit. Quite often you will receive a bonus to your salary if you have previous military experience.
Police ranks in the USA
One of the most popular jobs in law enforcement is that of the police officer. It gives great opportunity for growth both in vertical and horizontal hierarchy. Most of the officers wear uniforms, however the detectives, who are also part of the police ranking, are plain-clothes law enforcement officers. There is also the special K-9 unit, where the officers are also dog handlers and perform more specific duties than the standard policemen/policewomen. They undergo special training on how to work with and take care of the dog and receive some additional payment for their duties as well.
Now, the general police ranking in the USA starts frompolice officer, who is at the bottom of the hierarchy. Common names for the job are officer, patrol officer, deputy, and trooper. A regular officer wears no rank insignia. It is important to note that the pay varies within this rank as well as between the different states. In order to advance on the ladder, each officer needs to take specific exams as well as prove certain years of service at each rank before moving to the next.
The following rank is that of the detective, also referred to as inspector or investigator. These officers work in plain clothes and are in charge of investigating crime scenes, murders or drug offences. They usually have more years of experience than the ordinary police officers.
The ranks that follow in the hierarchy afterwards are:
- Sergeant – supervises an entire watch shift
- Lieutenant – supervises two, three or more sergeants
- Capitan – supervises a division or unit and often an entire police station
- Major (deputy inspector) – supervises a police station
- Colonel is a senior executive rank also referred to as “superintendent,” “commissioner” or “director”
- Inspector or commander – commands divisions, which may be groups of precincts within a borough or specialized branches of the police service
- Deputy Chief of Police or Assistant Commissioner or Assistant Superintendent – there can be several deputy chiefs in the bigger departments
- Chief of Police or Police Commissioner or Superintendent – to become one, you must be appointed by the mayor of the city you live in. The term Chief of Police is used mainly for large metropolitan departments, while Chief of Police is the term used for medium and small municipalities.
Ranks within state law enforcement
State law enforcement officers are often a part of the state’s Department of Public Safety. They are often based on the military model and have very strict training procedures. The officers are usually referred to as the state patrol, highway patrol, or state troopers. They are responsible for enforcing the laws throughout the entire state.
The ranks of the state law enforcement officers vary depending on the agency they work for but the general model follows the military rankings. This means that you start the job as a trooper, then you proceed to trooper first class, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, until you reach the top rank of colonel.
Federal level of law enforcement
The federal level of law enforcement is represented by several agencies, which have specific ranking and requirements for their officers. Here is a list of the most common federal agencies that you can apply with, in case you are interested in pursuing career in this sphere:
- United States Border Patrol
- United States Capitol Police
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- United States Park Police
- United States Marshals Service
- United States Secret Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
Make sure to check the specific requirements, ranking and salary opportunities each agency offers prior to applying.
- Los Angeles, CA. $100,059 per year. 6 salaries reported.
- Golden, CO. $70,166 per year. 13 salaries reported.
- Tampa, FL. $62,135 per year. 11 salaries reported.
- Atlanta, GA. $59,467 per year. 7 salaries reported.
- Orlando, FL. $56,168 per year. ...
- Show more nearby cities.
The average salary for a sheriff deputy in Texas is $53,000 per year. Sheriff deputy salaries in Texas can vary between $30,500 to $89,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.How much does a deputy sheriff get paid in Virginia? ›
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What is the difference between a Sheriff and a Police Chief? A Sheriff is generally (but not always) the highest, usually elected, law-enforcement officer of a county.What type of cop makes the most money? ›
- Security manager.
- Forensic accountant.
- Police sergeant.
- Forensic analyst.
- Border patrol agent.
High Sheriffs represent the Sovereign in their counties in upholding all matters relating to the Judiciary and maintaining law and order. Their responsibilities conferred by the Crown through warrant from the Privy Council can be summarised as: Attending Royal visits to the county.Is a sheriff higher than a marshal? ›
US Marshals do have federal jurisdiction but a sheriff is still the one in primary command in their local city, state, or county. A sheriff or a police officer is who you will interact with, even if a US Marshal is in the area, unless you are involved in a federal case involving a fugitive.How much does a High sheriff earn? ›
The High Sheriffs´ Association adopted National Crimebeat in recent years in response to specific areas of need. High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff's year falls on the public purse.Is sheriff higher than deputy? ›
A sheriff is an elected law enforcement officer who will serve a term of service that is usually four years long. Deputy sheriffs work under the sheriff to enforce federal, state, and local laws within their jurisdiction.Are Texas Rangers like sheriffs? ›
So Texas Rangers are state police, but they are not the state police in Texas. Instead, the Texas Rangers are a small, elite group of Texas police officers. The Texas Ranger Division exists under the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas Rangers are a more specialized group of law enforcement officials.
Sheriffs earn an average yearly salary of $100,330. Wages typically start from $64,610 and go up to $128,300.How long is a sheriff term in Virginia? ›
The sheriff shall be elected as provided by general law for a term of four years.How much does Fairfax county deputy sheriff pay? ›
- Private First Class: C18 step 1-12 $58,088.37-$99,351.20.
- Master Deputy Sheriff: C19 step 1-12 $60,992.67-$104,319.07.
- Sergeant: C20 step 1-12 $64,042.58-109,534.88.
- Second Lieutenant: C21 step 1-12 $67,244.74-$115,011.52.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is the largest sheriff's department and the fourth largest local policing agency in the United States. There are approximately 17,926 employees; over 9,972 sworn deputies and 7,954 non sworn members (professional staff).Who has the highest power in law enforcement? ›
The Department of Justice is the law enforcement agency with the most power in the United States. In fact, its job is to enforce federal laws. The Department of Justice is led by the attorney general, a cabinet-level official who is appointed by the... See full answer below.What are undercover cops not allowed to do? ›
There should be no undercover investigation of any one person by any one agency for more than 24 hours without a court-approved warrant. Further, while undercover operations may involve business as well as cordial social relationships, they should not include intimate personal relationships.What is the lowest paid police department? ›
States With the Lowest Average Salary for Patrol Officers
The lowest average salaries are in Idaho ($51,600), South Dakota ($52,700), Mississippi ($53,600), West Virginia ($54,600), and Wyoming ($54,800).
In California, the average salary for police officers is over $37,000 more than the national average, $105,220 vs. $67,600. The gap between the No. 1 best-paying state, California, and the No.Why do cops touch your trunk? ›
If the police officer pulling you over thinks they are in danger, they may touch the back of the car on the way to the driver's window to make sure the trunk is closed. This may seem strange, but it makes sure no one is hiding in the trunk, as they can pop out. And the tapping is done with this intention.What are the ranks of US Sheriffs? ›
The sheriff is the top-ranking officer in the department and is almost always an elected official. The assistant sheriff or under-sheriff is the next in line of police ranks in the department, followed by division chief, captain, lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and deputy.
- Written: (title and name), High Sheriff of Lancashire.
- Salutation: Dear High Sheriff.
- In a Speech: In the preamble the High Sheriff should be referred to as High Sheriff e.g. a speech might begin, “High Sheriff, Ladies and Gentlemen…”.
- Conversation: On formal occasions High Sheriff.
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Sheriffs and their deputies are sworn peace officers with the power to make arrests and serve before a magistrate or judge, serve warrants for arrest or order for arrest, and give a ticket/citation in order to keep the peace. Some states extend this authority to adjacent counties or to the entire state.What state has the best police force? ›
|Overall Rank||State||Law Enforcement Training Requirements|
|4||District of Columbia||3|
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A police recruit is any person who is undergoing training to become a member of the police force. The monthly salary of a police recruit is N12, 137.42, while his annual salary amounts to N145, 642.What rank is 1 star in police? ›
Superintendent of police (SP): State emblem and one star.What does 2 star mean in police? ›
SP (SENIOR SUPIRENDENT OF POLICE) WITH TWO STARS AND ASHOKA STAMPH.What are the benefits of being a Sheriff? ›
- Dental insurance.
- Employee assistance program.
- Health insurance.
- Life insurance.
- Paid time off.
- Retirement plan.
- Vision insurance.
The High Sheriff's Awards are designed to reward the volunteers, charities and community groups in Suffolk who devote their time and energy to improve the communities in which they live and work, to make Suffolk a better and safer place. The deadline for 2022 nominations is 17th January.
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Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Associate Warden, Deputy Warden, Chief Deputy Warden and Warden.Can LAPD have tattoos? ›
While on duty all Tattoos shall be covered. Officers can use make up, flesh colored bandages, or long sleeves. The League of the LAPD did investigate the possibility of only officers with "offensive" Tattoos cover them.What are Texas Rangers called now? ›
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers and also known as Los Diablos Tejanos (Spanish for 'the Texan Devils'), is an investigative law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in the U.S. state of Texas. It is based in the capital city of Austin.What is the highest law enforcement in Texas? ›
General law enforcement at the state level known as Rangers is a type of law enforcement official only found in Texas. The Texas Rangers are at the top of the law enforcement pyramid in Texas and have a rich history, holding the title of the oldest law enforcement group in the country.What is a Texas Ranger salary? ›
How much does a Law Enforcement Ranger make in Texas? As of Mar 1, 2023, the average annual pay for a Law Enforcement Ranger in Texas is $49,880 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $23.98 an hour. This is the equivalent of $959/week or $4,156/month.What state pays sheriff the most? ›
|Total Sheriff Jobs:||9|
|Average Annual Salary:||$56,453|
|Lowest 10 Percent Earn:||$38,000|
|Highest 10 Percent Earn:||$83,000|
|Location Quotient:||1.47 You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here|
- Major is a top-management position in the department. ...
- Colonel is the next step after a major. ...
- The Chief Deputy Sheriff is the highest rank to which you can be appointed. ...
- The Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the county.
When executing duties with a legal court order the Sheriff can: Enter your premises, even when you're not there. Open any door, vehicle or piece of furniture on your premises.
High Sheriffs are appointed for a year. The post is unpaid (except for a nominal court attendance allowance), and the general expenses of the office are borne personally by the holder. The system of appointing Sheriffs reflects the antiquity of the office.How many sheriffs are in Virginia? ›
Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia. Virginia has 123 elected sheriffs and over 8,300 sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and sheriff's office staff that are members of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association.How much does a Fairfax County Police Lieutenant make? ›
$90,414. The estimated total pay for a Police Lieutenant at Fairfax County Virginia is $90,414 per year.How much do sheriff deputies make in Virginia? ›
How much does a Deputy sheriff make in Virginia? The average deputy sheriff salary in Virginia is $48,779 per year or $23.45 per hour.How much does a deputy clerk make in Virginia? ›
The average Deputy Clerk salary in Virginia is $34,920 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $31,488 and $38,964.How much does a deputy sheriff get paid in Nebraska? ›
How much does a Deputy Sheriff make in Nebraska? The average Deputy Sheriff salary in Nebraska is $106,420 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $100,490 and $112,880.How much does a high sheriff get paid? ›
The High Sheriffs´ Association adopted National Crimebeat in recent years in response to specific areas of need. High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff's year falls on the public purse.How much does a sheriff deputy get paid in Louisiana? ›
How much does a Deputy Sheriff make in Louisiana? The average Deputy Sheriff salary in Louisiana is $111,180 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $104,980 and $117,930.How much does a sheriff deputy get paid in Mississippi? ›
How much does a Deputy Sheriff make in Mississippi? As of Feb 27, 2023, the average annual pay for a Deputy Sheriff in Mississippi is $36,961 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $17.77 an hour. This is the equivalent of $710/week or $3,080/month.How do I become a deputy sheriff in Nebraska? ›
Lancaster County Sheriff Department Jobs
- Step 1: Review minimum requirements.
- Step 2: Fill out application.
- Step 3: Complete written exam.
- Step 4: Complete physical exam.
- Step 5: Conduct an oral interview.
The sheriff is the top-ranking officer in the department and is almost always an elected official. The assistant sheriff or under-sheriff is the next in line of police ranks in the department, followed by division chief, captain, lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and deputy.How much does a deputy chief in LA make? ›
The average Deputy Chief of Staff salary in Los Angeles, CA is $114,384 as of January 26, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $103,065 and $126,626.How much does a deputy get paid in Louisiana? ›
As of Feb 20, 2023, the average annual pay for a Deputy Sheriff in Louisiana is $33,669 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $16.19 an hour. This is the equivalent of $647/week or $2,805/month.How much does a Desoto Parish Sheriff deputy make? ›
County Of Desoto Parish Sheriff Department pays an average salary of $107,666 and salaries range from a low of $94,533 to a high of $122,959.How much does a King County deputy make? ›
The 2023 salary range for deputies is $85,248.59 - $119,372.24 annually based on a six-step system (initial hire rate + five increases based on hire date). These are the base rates for which premiums for education, longevity, and specialty assignments are awarded. Cost of living increases are made annually.How much does a sheriff get paid in MS? ›
How much does a Sheriff/Police Chief make in Mississippi? The average Sheriff/Police Chief salary in Mississippi is $100,740 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $95,125 and $106,861.How much does a sheriff deputy make in California? ›
How much does a Deputy Sheriff make in California? The average Deputy Sheriff salary in California is $129,630 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $122,400 and $137,500.