16 Best Law Enforcement Jobs To Consider (With Salaries)

Updated February 3, 2023

Law enforcement is an exciting field that offers an array of career options to individuals interested in protecting their communities and enforcing the law. Besides traditional police work, there are many law enforcement careers with unique work environments, and the need for public safety on the local, state and federal levels ensures the availability of these positions. Learning more about different law enforcement jobs can help you determine which position is best for you. 

In this article, we discuss useful skills for working in law enforcement and list 16 popular law enforcement jobs in which to consider a career. 

Skills for working in law enforcement

Regardless of your preferred position in law enforcement, developing skills to help you in the field is beneficial. Law enforcement professionals use a variety of skills and abilities to cooperate with others and handle the unique situations they often encounter in their jobs. Here are a few important skills and personal characteristics for working in law enforcement:

  • Communication: Law enforcement professionals regularly interact with various people, from young children to career criminals. The ability to communicate effectively with members of the public and their colleagues is especially important.

  • Physical fitness: Law enforcement professionals often need to be physically fit to handle their physical duties, including suspect pursuits. This often includes the ability to walk or run long distances and restrain suspects. 

  • Integrity: Since professionals working in law enforcement have a lot of power over the lives of people they come into contact with, they must have a high level of integrity. This allows them to avoid personal prejudices and biases and make ethical decisions. 

  • Negotiation: There are a variety of situations where it may be necessary for law enforcement professionals to de-escalate situations. Having strong negotiation skills allows them to do so quickly and without difficulty. 

16 best law enforcement jobs

Here are some popular jobs in law enforcement to consider pursuing. Click on the salary links for the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed.

1. Marshal

National average salary: $37,453 per year

Primary duties: Marshals commonly work for the federal branch of the government and protect court officers, serve arrest warrants, transport prisoners and locate escaped inmates. They often work in courts, jails and prisons but may be responsible for traveling outside their jurisdiction when apprehending a suspect. They also provide safety to government witnesses who are in danger as a result of their testimony against a major criminal, often by arranging housing for them until they're able to bring the suspects to justice.

2. Correctional officer

National average salary: $39,284 per year

Primary duties: Correctional officers supervise convicted criminals and offenders housed in jails, prisons, halfway houses, psychiatric centers and other facilities. They help ensure the safety of inmates and staff members, work to prevent escapes and transport inmates between facilities. They may also investigate incidents involving inmates and inspect their cells for contraband. Some correctional officers might additionally undergo riot training and provide basic medical care to inmates who need it.

3. Bailiff

National average salary: $39,824 per year 

Primary duties: Bailiffs provide security to the people inside a courtroom and help maintain order by escorting jurors, letting the judge know when to proceed and removing disruptive people from court. They ensure that everyone in court is sitting where they're supposed to, handle the exclusion of witnesses and collect and present various pieces of evidence to a judge. They may also serve subpoenas for people to appear in court and execute arrest warrants when someone fails to appear in court. 

4. Parole officer

National average salary: $46,715 per year

Primary duties: Parole officers supervise convicted criminals who are either about to be or are already out of prison. They create parole plans to help them acclimate to an environment outside of prison. They assist parolees in finding a place to live and work. Parole officers may also monitor a parolee's progress in acclimating to life outside of prison and conduct home visits and inspections to ensure that the conditions of parole are being met. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Parole Officer

5. Deputy sheriff

National average salary: $50,079 per year 

Primary duties: Deputy sheriffs are county-level law enforcement officials who help enforce state and local laws and ensure public safety. They patrol an assigned area and report any suspicious activity, arrest people suspected of committing a crime, conduct warrants collect evidence and interview witnesses. They might also provide additional security to courtrooms and county jails.  

6. Victim advocate

National average salary: $50,377 per year

Primary duties: Victim advocates help their clients recover from the trauma they experienced from crimes such as assault, violent robberies and domestic abuse. These professionals often work at police departments and act as the intermediary between the victims of a crime and the criminal justice system. They provide support and resources to victims and their families to minimize the damage that the offense caused. They may also help other law enforcement officials by investigating complaints, providing administrative support and enhancing the services available to victims. 

7. Probation officer

National average salary: $50,921 per year

Primary duties: Probation officers help supervise, reform and rehabilitate individuals who are on probation. They perform background checks, administer drug tests and provide resources to help probationers gain housing and secure employment. They might also attend court, recommend sentences for the probationers they're responsible for and analyze their legal histories. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Probation Officer

8. Detective

National average salary: $52,443 per year

Primary duties: Detectives prevent, investigate, and solve various crimes. They do this by conducting detailed investigations of violations of local, state or federal laws, collecting evidence at crime scenes, interviewing individuals who witnessed the crime and managing other law enforcement personnel present at a scene. They also conduct surveillance, create and execute search warrants, arrest and question suspects, present evidence and testify in court. Detectives commonly work for local police departments or for state or federal law enforcement agencies. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Detective

9. Crime scene technician

National average salary: $55,256 per year

Primary duties: Crime scene technicians collect and analyze the evidence at a crime scene, such as weapons or bodily fluids. They determine which items to collect, evaluate the method for collecting them, list different pieces of evidence, and transfer them to a crime lab or forensic facility. Technicians also prepare reports describing their findings and may present them in courtrooms.

10. Police officer

National average salary: $55,470 per year

Primary duties: Police officers work to prevent crime and protect the public by patrolling assigned areas and monitoring various criminal activities. They apprehend suspects, arrest and question people who violate the law, transport suspects, collect and log evidence and write citations. They also respond to emergencies, deliver warrants, interview witnesses and victims, employ defensive tactics and control crowds and heavily trafficked areas. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Police Officer

11. Private investigator

National average salary: $57,197 per year

Primary duties: Private investigators collect evidence, help other law enforcement officials apprehend suspects and fugitives and solve crimes. They conduct interviews, perform background checks and verify the information they find. Private investigators may even take part in raids and assist with arrests. They investigate a wide variety of crimes ranging from homicide to fraud. 

12. Criminal investigator 

National average salary: $57,764 per year 

Primary duties: Criminal investigators analyze criminal behavior and collect data for crime cases to share with detectives and other investigators. They help create criminal profiles by studying police reports, witness testimonies, victim interviews, crime scene evidence and criminal histories. They may also execute search or arrest warrants, testify in court, oversee law enforcement personnel at crime scenes and help preserve evidence. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Crime Scene Investigator

13. State trooper 

National average salary: $62,893 per year 

Primary duties: State troopers patrol state highways to ensure that drivers follow the applicable state traffic laws, conduct traffic stops, issue speeding tickets or arrest citizens who break the laws. They respond to emergency calls, assist people who need help and direct traffic for funerals or special events. They might also help prosecute criminal cases by testifying in court. 

Read more: Learn About Being a State Trooper

14. Fraud investigator

National average salary: $64,145 per year 

Primary duties: Fraud investigators conduct investigations that relate to suspected fraud. They interview individuals who may have information to share in a fraud case, perform background checks and analyze important documentation like financial records or victim testimonies. They might also testify in civil or criminal proceedings, develop detailed reports and present their findings from those reports to law enforcement officials on the local, state or federal level. 

15. Forensic analyst

National average salary: $86,362 per year

Primary duties: Forensic analysts examine and collect evidence at crime scenes, such as blood, fingerprints and hair. They might take photographs at a crime scene, create sketches and prepare the evidence they collect for transfer to a lab. They also conduct field tests, record and document their findings from those tests and report their results to other law enforcement professionals. Some analysts may work in forensics labs, where they analyze evidence to determine the prime suspects of a crime. 

16. Federal agent 

National average salary: $118,539 per year 

Primary duties: Federal agents work as investigators or detectives for federal law enforcement agencies and assist with criminal cases. They provide intelligence to the government, conduct surveillance, apprehend criminals, collect and preserve evidence, create reports for prosecutors and testify in courts. Depending on their agency, they might also conduct drug raids, protect important officials, interview witnesses at crime scenes, patrol the border and track fugitives.

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