A chief of police, also known as a first-line supervisor/manager of police and detectives, directly supervises a police force. While salaries vary across the country due to the size and type of their organizations and jurisdictions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts law enforcement job opportunities in most local police departments to be favorable for qualified individuals through 2018. According to Simply Hired, the average annual salary for a full-time chief of police in the private sector is $53,000 as of the time of publication.
Individuals who are U.S. citizens, at least 21 years old upon graduating the police academy and able to fulfill rigorous physical and personal qualifications are eligible for a career in law enforcement. Officers must also have a valid driver's license. Additional eligibility is usually dependent on written examinations, education and experience. Chief of police appointments are governed by local and state civil service regulations. Individuals should enjoy working with people in the communities they serve. Good judgment and character, such as honesty, integrity and a responsibility, are also important.
According to a May 2010 salary report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for first-line supervisors of police and detectives was $80,770. Salaries for chief of police jobs in 2011, according to Simply Hired, vary throughout the U.S., averaging around $59,000 for full-time positions in California; $44,000 in Oklahoma; $83,000 in Washington, D.C.; and $62,000 in New York.
Education and Training
At least a high school diploma or an associate’s degree is needed for a career in law enforcement. A career as a chief of police usually requires more advanced degrees and training, as well as experience. Some fields of study include criminal justice/law enforcement administration, corrections and homeland security. Individuals must also complete police academy training. Additional certification may be required from each state.
Chiefs of police serve and protect citizens, respond to domestic disturbances, traffic accidents and emergencies and watch for law violators and conduct arrests. Because chiefs of police directly supervise a police force, they also train staff in police procedures, educate personnel of any changes in polices, regulations and laws and discipline staff when necessary. There are also office-related duties, such as preparing budgets, managing supplies, creating work schedules, managing logs and maintaining department records.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition – Police and Detectives
- Simply Hired: Average Police Chief Salaries
- Discover Policing: Basic Requirements
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010 - 33-1012 First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
- My Majors: Chief of Police Career Information
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images