Top 16+ Highest Paying Law Enforcement Jobs List of Top Paying Law Enforcement Jobs How to Get Into Law Enforcement Final Words
Top 16+ Highest Paying Law Enforcement Jobs List of Top Paying Law Enforcement Jobs How to Get Into Law Enforcement Final Words
Updated 11/12/2020

Top 16+ Highest Paying Law Enforcement Jobs

Law enforcement agencies offer many vacancies for candidates with different academic backgrounds. In this area, you will definitely find a good opportunity for yourself, bringing substantial earnings.

Law enforcement agencies offer many vacancies for candidates with different academic backgrounds. In this area, you will definitely find a good opportunity for yourself, bringing substantial earnings.

Many people believe that it is impossible to earn much in the law enforcement sector. But actually, this area has lots of professions that offer good compensation and favorable working conditions. We have compiled a list of the 17 top paying law enforcement jobs that will help you determine your career direction.


List of Top Paying Law Enforcement Jobs

It is important to note that the salary varies depending on the specialist’s experience, education, and qualifications. The more academic achievements you have, the more generous remuneration you can expect. Another factor that affects the amount of the annual payment is the area. Thus, in large cities, compensation is always higher than in rural areas. Below you will find a list with the main criteria required for a candidate to be hired and the average annual salary according to PayScale and Bureau of Labour Statistics data.

#1 Lawyers and Attorneys

When it comes to a high-paying job, lawyers and attorneys come to mind first, especially in law enforcement. Nowadays, lawyers are a kind of superhero. Many dramas and TV series have been created about them. In the cult film Interstate 60, there is even a whole city of lawyers, which testifies how important and demanded this profession is.

Lawyers who work in the private sector as defenders are among the highest paid in the field, while their counterparts from the public sector earn significantly less. Fees vary considerably depending on qualifications, but on average, attorneys make around $120,000 a year, and in some cases, compensation can go up to $200,000.

The duties of lawyers include defending and representing the client in court, conducting research on the client's problem, finding new witnesses, negotiating with the investigation and judges, and so on. But such high compensation does not come without sacrifice. To become a lawyer, you need to get a bachelor's degree, then graduate from law school, pass the bar exam, and pass the ethics commission. In general, this profession is for proactive and ambitious people with a sharp mind and advanced attention to detail.

#2 Judges

Another of the highest paying jobs in law enforcement is the judges and magistrates. Most of them are lawyers with years of legal experience in the courtroom. So they undergo all the same training as attorneys and have to get a law degree in an ABA-accredited program. A judge is a strong-willed and responsible person with a sense of justice and an in-depth knowledge of the law, guiding their decision-making. Their main task is to issue a verdict based on the evidence of the defense and prosecution parties and the jury’s decision. They are also responsible for maintaining order in the courtroom and holding lawyers accountable for failing to follow standard courtroom procedures.

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the highest-paid position is the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who earns $260,000 a year. Federal district judges can count on $220,000, and district judges make just over $200,000 annually. Associate judges, intermediate and higher judges of states, and courts of appeal judges receive between $115,000 and $200,000 annually.

#3 Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Professors

In 2014, a television series was released about a law enforcement professor and practicing attorney named Annalise Keating. Her course was entitled "How to Get Away with Murder." And this is not surprising since a professor of criminal justice comes in at the third on our list of best paid and most demanded professions.

The task of professors of criminal justice is to educate students in criminology and actions in the fields within the law. They design tests, conduct training seminars, assess student progress, and from time to time, allow them to work on real cases under their guidance. Candidates with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice are preferable for this position. But some junior colleges can offer a place to a person with only a master's degree.

Professors contribute to criminal justice and criminology literature by publishing research papers and submitting them to academic journals. Their salaries vary considerably depending on the institution but potentially go up to $170,000 per year.

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#4 Financial Examiners

The next highly paid profession that we would like to talk about is financial examiners. They play an important role in studying financial documents, suspicious financial activities, disclosure of fraudulent schemes, theft, and money laundering. Financial examiners work exclusively on financial affairs, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. They draw up detailed reports on their activities and conclusions and testify in court and express their expert opinion.

To become a financial examiner requires a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, and related fields. To move up the career ladder, you must have a master's degree, as well as advanced training programs. Financial examiners earn between $81,000 and $150,000 annually.

#5 Criminologists

Next on the list of high paying law enforcement careers is a criminologist. This profession aims to collect data on the crime scene and study and understand how and why the wrongful acts were committed. Criminologists are profilers, which means that they create a psychological porter of the criminal based on the crime data. Thus, we can say that criminologists also operate in the field of sociology and psychology. Their work is vital since profiling allows them to narrow the circle of suspects and even predict the criminal’s next actions.

A candidate for this position must have strong analytical skills, critical thinking, and the ability to work under pressure. The criminologist profession requires a bachelor's degree in criminology, sociology, related fields, and licensing. They also work with other law enforcement experts to better understand the essence and motive of the crime. On average, these professionals earn between $83,000 and $140,000 per year.

#6 Police Officers and Detectives

Police officers and detectives are pillars of the law enforcement system. They take to the streets every day to patrol, look for criminals, and prevent crimes. Their duties include investigating crimes, gathering evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses, finding witnesses, recruiting informants, handling the crime scene, and documenting. The detectives build the case following the framework of the law so that it can reach the court.

Quite often, this profession requires working long hours and the ability to work under pressure. Successful candidates are those who can demonstrate commitment, critical thinking, and data analysis. Basically, for representatives of this profession, it is enough to have a high school diploma. But if you want to move up the career ladder, you will also need to prepare for college coursework or even get a bachelor's degree. Highly-paid detectives have a law diploma. Besides, this profession also implies good physical shape and work in the field. Detectives' compensation varies based on qualifications and can go up to $120,000 per year.

#7 Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

The main task of these specialists is to help the opposing sides find a compromise. They focus on assisting parties to resolve disputes and other aspects of criminal cases outside the courtroom. In turn, this allows their clients to find a solution that could satisfy both parties, significantly reduce the duration of the trial, and as a result, compensation to lawyers. Mediators and arbitrators generally have a bachelor's degree, but sometimes a Ph.D. is also required. Among conciliators may also be judges or lawyers who have retired. Mediators must have excellent communication and negotiation skills, analytical thinking, a sharp mind, and patience. They often work closely with lawyers to ensure that the rights of all parties of the proceedings are respected. Their annual salary can go up to $120,000 per year.

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#8 Intelligence Analysts

Another important and best-paying law enforcement job is intelligence analysts. These are the people who work behind the scenes, collecting and analyzing data to uncover cases and assess potential security risks. They work at both state and federal levels to identify security threats and advise how to fight crime. Intelligence analysts also work with international and local law enforcement officials, process confidential information, and provide detailed reports. To be successful in this position, you must have a degree in political science, international relations, or related fields. Intelligence analysts are also required to be fluent in several foreign languages. Their compensation goes up to $15,000 per year.

#9 Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

These professionals are responsible for ensuring that people on probation comply with their probationary conditions. They are obliged to explain to the probation participants all the conditions of their rehabilitation, develop a restoration plan, and monitor its implementation. This is a somewhat nervous and demanding job because correctional treatment specialists have to interact with difficult wards. In addition, they also assist prisoners in achieving their goals to return to a normal life, find a job, and reacclimate to society.

To qualify for this position, you must graduate from colleges or hold a bachelor's degree in criminal law, behavioral sciences, or related fields. In some institutions, it is required to complete a governmental program and pass a test confirming that a specialist can work in this area. Potentially, probation officers earn up to $97,000 per year.

#10 Forensic Psychologists

These are criminal justice professionals who specialize in understanding human nature. They create profiles of criminals based on their patterns of behavior. These profiles are then used to identify and track suspects. In general, this profession is similar to criminologists but has a narrower focus. Forensic psychologists are trained clinical psychologists and have extensive academic preparation before they can begin real practice.

In many cases, a Ph.D. in Psychology is required for them to be hired. A forensic psychologist’s duties also include interviewing suspects to compile their profiles, counseling prisoners, and working closely with law enforcement and judicial investigations. Their average annual salary ranges from $80,000 to $93,000 and can go up to $120,000 per year.

#11 U.S. Marshals

The Marshal Service is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the United States, which operates in various directions. Depending on the agency, their major responsibilities include:

  • protecting federal judicial officials, including judges, attorneys, and juries;
  • transport of prisoners between judicial districts;
  • investigation of cases of escape from justice;
  • investigation of criminal offenses;
  • arrests, including those abroad;
  • coordinating extradition and deportation;

To take this position, you need to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, have good physical training, and three years of experience in the field. They must also successfully pass a physical, written, and psychological attestation to enter the US Marshall Academy. Their approximate annual salary is about $63,000.

#12 Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives can work both independently and as part of a company or corporation. The main task is to investigate on the client’s behalf, providing a detailed report and all the evidence found. The overwhelming part of the work of investigators is collecting information and establishing observation and facts about suspects. They can also work undercover.

An investigator’s average salary is around $88,000 a year, which is a very good compensation since this job does not need much academic training. However, more advanced positions in this area may require a degree in criminal law or related fields. This job typically requires long and odd hours, as detectives can also work at night. They have to be strong, resilient, good under pressure, attentive to detail and have good analytical skills.

#13 Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Another well-paid profession is legal assistant. Their main task is to help lawyers at all stages of working with a case, while paralegals cannot work as full-fledged attorneys or represent a client in court. A legal assistant’s primary duties include collecting information, interviewing clients, drawing up schedules, preparing documents for court, drafting legal notes, preparing clients for litigation, and so on. To get this job, you need to have a two-year junior specialist degree. If a legal assistant wants to become full-fledged lawyers, they have to continue their education. Established law firms only hire candidates with a bachelor's degree. The average annual salary for legal assistants is about $82,000.

#14 Custom and Border Protection Officers

Security, both external and internal, remains a priority for the United States. Thus, CBP officers are an essential link in law enforcement agencies. The services cover preventing the import of illegal weapons, drug flows, and routing emigrants into the country, stopping human trafficking. Customs officers are considered highly qualified officers whose duties involve risks. They also make sure that the criminals do not enter or leave the country, and if they are found, CBP officers must arrest any violators. The main skills required for this work are calmness, assertiveness, resilience, developed communication skills, and the ability to work in a team. To get a position in this field, you can graduate from The CBP Field Operations Academy. The average annual compensation for CBP officers is about $93,000.

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#15 Computer Forensic Examiners

These specialists are investigators who focus on collecting and recovering digital information. Their main activity is aimed at assessing, analyzing evidence, gathering information related to computer crimes. They can also investigate cases of identity theft, electronic fraud, and other illegal cyber activities. Quite often, computer forensic examiners can also act as experts in court and assess the suspect’s evidence or actions. To gain employment in this area, it is enough to have a high school diploma, but some employers expect a bachelor's degree from candidates. Some states require licensing. Computer forensic examiners must always be aware of the latest cyber world trends to have expert knowledge and effectively apply it in practice. In addition, they need to be attentive to detail and have strong communication skills. The average annual salary is $70,000 and, in rare cases, can go up to $113,000.

#16 Bailiffs

These law enforcement officers play an essential role in the courtroom. They must maintain order and security during the hearing and help the judge conduct the trial. Bailiffs work with a variety of government officials, lawyers, and court staff. They can also provide court documents, guard the jury, and ensure the courthouse’s general security.

To become a bailiff, it is sufficient to have a high school diploma. In some cases, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration may be required. The average annual salary of a bailiff is about $50,000. Experienced specialists can make $80,000 per year.

#17 Correctional Officers and Jailers

Correctional officers ensure the general safety of prisoners, make sure that no one leaves the walls of the institution unauthorized. Their duties also include inspecting cells, resolving disputes between prisoners, collecting contrabands, drugs, and keeping a journal of prisoners' activity. Higher education is not required for this position, and it is enough to have a high school diploma. Correctional officers can also receive additional training if they want to improve their skills and respond more effectively in emergencies, such as when criminals try to escape. This profession is not considered the highest paying federal law enforcement job. Still, with significant experience, specialists can expect a decent salary of $88,000 per year, while the average compensation is about $45,000 annually.


How to Get Into Law Enforcement

In order to get a job in any field, not just law enforcement, there are some basic rules. By doing them, you will definitely be successful in employment.

  1. Build a work network.

    The truth is that most jobs find the right candidate before they are published online. Thus, if you want to get into law enforcement, you need to create contacts in this area. Maintain relationships with your college alumni. Those who are already involved in the system can give you good advice regarding employment.

  2. Check government websites.

    Do not forget to monitor government website pages because government agencies often post open vacancies on their portals. Since there are so many applicants, vacancies are quickly filled. Make it a habit to browse websites every week to always be aware of the latest news.

  3. Prepare a professional resume.

    A resume is a document that reveals your professional skills and abilities. Without it, the employer will not even consider you. The resume should contain a repertoire of the skills and talents you possess, which help you effectively fulfill your professional duties and academic achievements.

  4. Create a cover letter.

    An equally important document that also has to be created is a cover letter. This is your self-promotion that demonstrates why you are the best contender for the position. Various polls indicate that more than half of employers expect a candidate to attach a cover letter to their application. And here's another reason why it's worth creating: when considering two candidates with the same qualifications, the hiring preference will be given to the one who prepared the cover letter.

  5. Prepare for an interview.

    Another important step towards your dream job is to prepare for your interview. Once you are invited to a meeting with an employer, you must make an effort to impress them. Here are some helpful tips on how to stand out in an interview.


Final Words

Now you know which professions in law enforcement are more attractive and what you need to do in order to find a job. Use this information to build a successful career in a field that appeals to you.

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