Police officers are charged with upholding the law in the communities where they serve. In the course of these duties they may need to perform investigations, fill out paperwork and provide court testimony. They may also be called upon to perform associated duties like traffic control, community relations or first aid. The greater the education an officer has, the more likely it will improve his salary and opportunity for promotion.
In general, a police officer is required to have a high school diploma; some positions in law enforcement require college degrees or college coursework. However, police officers generally learn much of what they need to know to perform their duties through training in police academies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
State and Local Police Agencies
State and local police agencies encourage their officers to take college-level coursework related to law enforcement. Many applicants have already completed some courses or have even earned a college degree by the time they apply, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once an officer is hired onto the police force, the agency may even have a tuition reimbursement plan to help officers continue their law enforcement educations.
Pay by Degree
Police officers with bachelor of science degrees earned between $32,699 and $78,611 a year in 2010, according to PayScale.com. Police officers with degrees in criminal justice earned between $36,425 and $61,674. With general bachelor of arts degrees, they earned between $57,325 and $78,500 and between $37,295 and $56,500 with general associate of arts degrees.
Salaries by Position
The position a police officer holds will greatly affect his income. Police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median salary of $51,510 in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Police and detective supervisors had a median annual salary of $75,490. Detectives and criminal investigators had a median annual salary of $60,910. Transit and railroad police had a median salary of $46,670.