A police patrol car
Source: Pixabay

These States Pay Police Officers the Most (and Least) Per Hour

Jennifer Farrington - Author

Jan. 9 2023, Updated 1:04 p.m. ET

If you’re looking for a job in law enforcement, you’ve probably considered working as a police officer. As an officer of the law, you’re expected to protect the lives of others, even if it means putting your own life at risk, enforce laws and ordinances, and conduct traffic stops, among other things. So, how much are police officers paid per hour?

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While you’d expect the police to be generously compensated for their commitment and duties, the position is often undervalued in many states. If you’re considering this as your next career move, keep reading for a breakdown of the states where police are paid the most and those that pay them the least.

How much do police officers make per hour?

Police officers
Source: Getty Images

The amount a police officer makes per hour varies by state, with the cost of living serving as one of the most influential factors. On average, police officers make about $34.02 per hour, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But police salaries do fluctuate significantly.

While some police officers might earn as little as $19.32 per hour or about $40,190 annually, others are paid as much as $49.29 per hour or $102,530 per year.

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These states pay police officers the most per hour.

If you’re looking to make the most per hour working as a police officer, these states offer the highest compensation for the position:

  • California's average police officer hourly pay: $49.48 or $102,920 annually
  • Washington's average police officer hourly pay: $44.42 or $92,390 annually
  • New Jersey's average police officer hourly pay: $44.08 or $91.690 annually
  • Alaska's average police officer hourly pay: $42.07 or $87,520 annually
  • Illinois' average police officer hourly pay: $39.81 or $82,800 annually

Taking a deeper look at how California compensates its police officers, we found these metropolitan areas to be the highest-paying.

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: average hourly pay $60.56
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward: average hourly pay $56.95
  • Nap: average hourly pay $55.78
  • Vallejo-Fairfield: average hourly pay $55.67
  • Santa Rosa: average hourly pay $50.99
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Which states pay police officers the least?

Although some cities are willing to pay competitive wages to secure police officers, there are a handful of states, most of which are located in the south, that are known for compensating police officers the least. These include:

  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota

In these states, police officers generally earn anywhere between $38,940 and $52,580 per year or roughly $19–$25 per hour.

A police officer and security guard
Source: Getty Images

What are some side hustles for police officers?

With a large percentage of police officers being undercompensated, many seek out other ways to make money, like side hustles. Given police officers' skills and certifications, they can often make extra money working as a security guard, event security, campus patroller, or by taking on other types of off-duty jobs.


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