Police Officers

Police officers perform many duties relating to public safety. Their responsibilities include not only preserving the peace, preventing criminal acts, enforcing the law, investigating crimes, and arresting those who violate the law but also directing traffic, community relations work, and controlling crowds at public events. Police officers are employed at the federal, state, county, and city level.

State police officers patrol highways and enforce the laws and regulations that govern the use of those highways, in addition to performing general police work. Police officers are under oath to uphold the law 24 hours a day. There are approximately 635,380 police and sheriff's patrol officers employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Accident-Prevention Squad Officers, Community Relations Lieutenants, Detective Chiefs, Homicide Squad Commanding Officers, Highway Patrol Officers, Identification and Records Commanders and Officers, Narcotics and Vice Detectives or Investigators, Parking Enforcement Officers, Public Safety Officers, Safety Instruction Police Officers, Sergeants, State Troopers, Traffic Lieutenants
Duties Patrol public areas; investigate crime areas; apprehend and arrest suspects; patrol highways; write tickets; interrogate suspects; break up riots; testify in court; perform administrative duties such as writing up reports
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Indoors/Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Positions are available throughout the country
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Government
  • History
  • Psychology
Experience Military or law enforcement related experience helpful
Personality Traits
  • Conventional
  • Helpful
  • Problem-Solving
  • Business Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements Must be firearm qualified and free of felony convictions; pass a background investigation, drug test, psychological and medical examination; be a U.S. citizen; be at least 21; may not have any other health condition that might interfere with job performance or endanger the health and safety of others
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Chief of Police
  • Deputy Chief of Police
  • Police Officer II
  • Police Officer I

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