Being a police officer comes with a ton of responsibility, risk and day-to-day stress. What the job doesn't always come with is a salary to match, at least in some states. In the United States, the average police officer salary totals $64,490 annually. Thanks to a few high-paying states at the top, however, the median law enforcement salary for both police and sheriff's patrol officers is a lower $61,050 — and there's a huge spectrum of other salaries across the country.
With a few exceptions, the states that spend the most on law enforcement are on the West Coast and in the Northeast. States with the lowest average police officer pay are concentrated in the South and Midwest. No matter where you live, the job of a police officer might be the same, but the salaries vary greatly. A nearly $65,000 gap stands between the salaries in the highest-paying and lowest-paying states.
Click through to learn how much police make in your state, ranked in order from lowest pay to highest.
50. Police Salary in Mississippi: $35,520
Mississippi has a higher concentration of officers than any other state in America, not including the District of Columbia. But police officers there receive smaller paychecks than in all 49 other states. If Mississippi police were paid by the hour, the median wage would be just $16.74.
49. Police Salary in Arkansas: $38,450
Only one state pays its officers less than Arkansas, which might be part of the reason it's one of the more dangerous states in America. There are 551 violent crimes per 100,000 people, according to FBI statistics. It's not all bad news — police officers who save $1 million for retirement can make that money last more than 25 years, longer than all but one other state.
48. Police Salary in Louisiana: $39,650
First-line supervisors of police and detectives in Louisiana earn an average of $60,400. At an average of $44,530 a year, railroad and transit police also earn higher salaries than regular patrol officers in the state.
47. Police Salary in Georgia: $42,190
When you count Washington, D.C., Georgia has the fourth-highest concentration of officers in the entire country. 5.51 out of every 1,000 people in the state work as police or sheriff's patrol officers.
46. Police Salary in South Carolina: $42,330
South Carolina has more police officers per capita than any state in America except for Mississippi and Washington, D.C. A total of 11,890 officers patrol the streets in the Palmetto State, which is a concentration of 5.92 cops for every 1,000 people.
45. Police Salary in West Virginia: $43,050
Police officers in West Virginia typically earn less than $29,000 to start, but the top earners make more than $57,000 per year. State troopers earn roughly $2,832 per month as cadets, and then they move up to $3,438 per month upon graduation.
44. Police Salary in Tennessee: $44,320
Tennessee pays its officers less than all but six other states, yet the violent crime rate in the Volunteer State is No. 4 in the nation. There are 633 violent crimes in Tennessee for every 100,000 people.
43. Police Salary in Alabama: $44,490
Police dispatchers earn an average of $32,300 in the state of Alabama, which is more than $1,000 less per month than the average patrol officer. With 532 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Alabama is one of the 10 most dangerous states in America.
42. Police Salary in Kentucky: $45,010
In the city of Louisville, recruits in the police academy earn $34,237 a year. Once they graduate, they earn $38,418 plus work-related expenses. Officers who achieve rank of first-line supervisors of police and detectives, however, can look forward to an average salary statewide of $64,820.
41. Police Salary in Oklahoma: $45,600
Rounding out the bottom 10 is Oklahoma, where 7,640 officers patrol the streets. Although the average officer in the Sooner state is closing in on the $46,000 mark, the average dispatcher earns just $31,490.
40. Police Salary in Missouri: $47,080
Missouri is one of four states to pay its average officer between $47,000 and $48,000. The average first-line supervisor, however, earns a much heftier mean salary of $76,390.
39. Police Salary in North Carolina: $47,440
With 23,370 cops on the street, North Carolina employs a lot of officers compared to most states, but they're not heavily concentrated per capita. The most dangerous cities in North Carolina are Lumberton, Oxford and Kinston.
38. Police Salary in South Dakota: $47,800
Only a handful of states employ fewer police and sheriff's patrol officers than South Dakota, where just 1,750 cops work the streets. Even tiny Rhode Island and Delaware have larger police presences in their states.
36. Police Salary in Maine: $48,310
At No. 36, Maine rounds out the bottom 15 when it comes to the country's highest-paid officers, but they seem to be doing a good job. With just 124 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Maine is the safest state in the nation.
35. Police Salary in Vermont: $49,070
Vermont ranks just behind Maine in terms of average pay for its officers, and it also ranks just behind Maine in terms of its impressive public safety record. The state of Vermont reports just 158 violent crimes per 100,000 people per year, making it the second-safest state in America.
34. Police Salary in New Mexico: $52,320
There are only 4,540 officers in New Mexico, but that represents one of the highest concentrations in the country. There are 5.67 officers for every 1,000 people, which is good for the people who live there. With 703 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, New Mexico is more dangerous than any state except Alaska.
33. Police Salary in Idaho: $52,340
Idaho is one of the safest states in America. Just five states enjoy violent crime rates lower than the 230 in 100,000 found in the Gem State. Its officers, however, are stuck in the bottom 40 percent in terms of pay.
32. Police Salary in Utah: $52,410
There are 4,410 police and sheriff's patrol officers in Utah. Salaries range from $36,510 in the 10th percentile to $70,130 in the 90th percentile.
31. Police Salary in Indiana: $53,260
Almost 12,000 officers work the streets of Indiana, where 3.95 out of every 1,000 people earn their living as either police or sheriff's patrol officers. First-line supervisors earn an average of nearly $70,000 a year whereas dispatchers make just $35,600.
30. Police Salary in Montana: $54,590
With 368 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Montana falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of public safety. With an average salary of $54,590, the state rounds out the bottom 40 percent of all states in terms of officer pay.
29. Police Salary in Michigan: $55,780
More than 16,700 police and sheriff's officers patrol the vast Great Lakes state of Michigan. Those officers receive pay that ranks in the bottom half of the country, but first-line supervisors earn an average of $78,870.
28. Police Salary in Wyoming: $56,240
Just 1,100 police and sheriff's patrol officers work in the entire sparsely populated state of Wyoming; only Alaska employs fewer cops in the entire country.
27. Police Salary in Virginia: $56,290
Virginia officers whose salaries fall in the bottom 10th percentile of average wages earn $37,090 a year. Officers with salaries in the 90th percentile there earn $82,690 annually.
26. Police Salary in North Dakota: $56,420
Rounding out the bottom half of the list is North Dakota. Just 1,640 police and sheriff's officers patrol the entire state. Among the rare states with fewer officers than North Dakota are Montana, North Dakota's giant neighbor, and small and distant Vermont.
25. Police Salary in New Hampshire: $56,560
Sandwiched in between Maine and Vermont, the two safest states in America, is New Hampshire, which takes the title of America's third-safest state. According to the FBI, the state reports just 198 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
24. Police Salary in Iowa: $56,620
The first state in the top 50 percent of average wages for police and sheriff's officers is Iowa. The state is home to almost 5,000 cops, and with just 3.25 officers per 1,000 people, they're spread thinner than the police forces of all but a few states.
23. Police Salary in Nebraska: $57,090
Fewer than 3,400 police officers work in the entire state of Nebraska — and they're spread thin. Even heavily rural states like Idaho and Wyoming have more officers per capita.
22. Police Salary in Florida: $58,400
Florida's 38,770 officers represent the fourth-largest pool of police and sheriff's patrol officers in the entire country. The Sunshine State is one of just 22 states where officers earn more than $58,000 on average.
21. Police Salary in Rhode Island: $58,830
Rounding out the bottom 60 percent of the country is tiny Rhode Island, where just 2,110 officers patrol the streets. That's 4.44 officers for every 1,000 people.
20. Police Salary in Ohio: $59,280
In Ohio, the average first-line supervisor earns more than $80,000 a year. The average dispatcher, however, earns just $42,840.
19. Police Salary in Wisconsin: $60,800
Over 12,400 officers work in Wisconsin, and they're among the top 40 percent in terms of average pay nationwide. It's also the first state where the mean salary breaks the $60,000 mark.
18. Police Salary in Texas: $62,430
Only California employs more police and sheriff's patrol officers than Texas, which has 63,380 officers on the payroll. Officers in the largest geographical state in the contiguous United States, however, earn nearly $40,000 less per year than their counterparts to the West in California.
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16. Police Salary in Arizona: $65,810
The border state of Arizona employs nearly 11,500 police patrol and sheriff's officers. With 470 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Arizona is one of America's 12 most dangerous states.
15. Police Salary in Maryland: $66,020
In the mid-Atlantic state of Maryland, police dispatchers earn an average of $46,600 a year. That's exactly $46,000 a year less than the $92,600 paid to the average first-line supervisor.
14. Police Salary in Pennsylvania: $66,460
Home to 27,460 police and sheriff's patrol officers, Pennsylvania is one of the most policed states in America. Although it claims a spot among the 15 highest-paying states, police in Pennsylvania are the last on this list to earn less than the $64,490 national average.
13. Police Salary in Massachusetts: $68,190
A total of 17,750 police work in the state of Massachusetts, which translates into 5.03 officers for every 1,000 residents. One of the better paying states, the average officer in the 90th percentile earns an annual salary of $95,600.
12. Police Salary in Oregon: $68,530
One of the dozen best-paying states in the entire country is Oregon. Even relatively low-paid dispatchers in the Northwestern state earn an average of $54,650 — that's more than patrol officers earn in more than half the country.
11. Police Salary in Delaware: $68,630
Just missing the top 10 — and the final state where officers earn less than $70,000 a year — is tiny Delaware. The small mid-Atlantic state makes the top 10 as far as violent crime is concerned, largely thanks to the city of Wilmington's rise as America's most dangerous city for young people.
10. Police Salary in Hawaii: $70,060
Taking the final spot in the top 10 is Hawaii. Just 2,700 officers patrol the streets in the Pacific island state, but at 4.26 per 1,000 people, they're concentrated fairly heavily per capita.
9. Police Salary in Connecticut: $70,610
The small New England state of Connecticut is one of the five safest states in the country. The state reports just 227 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
8. Police Salary in Colorado: $71,270
Colorado pays its 9,440 officers well. It's one of just 10 states where the average officer earns more than $70,000 a year.
7. Police Salary in New York: $73,000
With 46,940 officers working in New York, the Empire State boasts the No. 3 largest number of officers in the country. One of just 10 states that pays its average officer more than $70,000 a year, the average first-line supervisor in New York earns $110,370.
6. Police Salary in Illinois: $73,870
Illinois is right in front of New York in terms of average officer pay, and it's slightly behind it in terms of the number of officers the state employs. A total of 31,430 police and sheriff's patrol officers work in Illinois — that's more than all but four other states.
5. Police Salary in Nevada: $73,930
Nevada is among the top five states in terms of officer pay, but it also holds a place in a more nefarious top five. With 678 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Nevada is America's No. 3 most violent state.
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4. Police Salary in Washington: $78,600
There are fewer than 10,000 police officers in Washington State. At just 3.02 officers per 1,000 people, the state is home to fewer cops per capita than most states in the country.
3. Police Salary in Alaska: $81,980
Alaska is one of just three states that pays its officers an average of more than $80,000 a year — and the state could use well-paid professionals working in law enforcement. With 804 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Alaska is the most dangerous state in America — and no state employs fewer police officers.
2. Police Salary in New Jersey: $83,570
Even the average officer is paid well in New Jersey, but a promotion to first-line supervisor will launch that officer well into the six figures. The average supervisor's salary is $126,450. Although the Garden State pays its officers more than all but one other state, the officers in that other state earn average salaries that are more than $16,000 higher per year than their colleagues across the continent in New Jersey.
1. Police Salary in California: $100,090
Police officers are paid more in California than anywhere else — it's the only state that pays an average salary in the six figures. With 73,000 police and sheriff's patrol officers on duty in the state, California also employs more officers than any other state.
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For the type of work police officers do, some of these average state salaries are considered fair or even generous, whereas other states pay their police officers significantly less than the national average. Choosing to pursue a career as a police officer requires considering a lot more than salary — there's safety, hours and job duties to think about — but if you do choose to work as a police officer, working in a state with an above-average salary wouldn't hurt.
Police officers aren't the only public servants making below average salaries. Click to find out how much teachers make in your state.
Methodology: GOBankingRates used 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data — the most recent year available — to determine the average police salary in all 50 states.