Some police officers specialize in particular fields, while others work with special units, including special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams. SWAT teams are generally responsible for responding to high-risk tactical situations, such as executing high-risk warrants in environments that may be too dangerous to serve without tactical backup. If you are considering pursuing a career as a SWAT team member, your salary will vary based upon your work history, work location and place of employment.
As of May 2010, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics classified SWAT team members as police and sheriff’s patrol officers. The national mean annual wage for these types of law enforcement officers, including SWAT team members, was $55,620. The 25th percentile earned $40,830 per year, while the 75th percentile made an average of $69,070 per year. These averages were based on the work location and number of years of experience.
SWAT team members who work in certain parts of the U.S. can earn more than their counterparts in other areas. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this type of law enforcement professional earned an annual mean wage of $77,290 in California, as of May 2010. Those in the District of Columbia earned an average of $67,560 per year. SWAT team members in Illinois made an average of $66,680 per year, while those in Nevada earned an annual mean wage of $65,840. However, the top-paying location was New Jersey, where police officers, including SWAT team members, made an annual mean wage of $79,300 per year.
Other Salary Factors
Many SWAT team members do not earn much more than standard police pay, but they are part of the tactical team by choice. Some SWAT team positions are volunteer jobs, while other police departments pay SWAT team members a little extra per month for being a part of these special, risky operations. For example, the Riverside Police Department in California pays its full-time Metro officer SWAT team members an additional 3 percent of their normal salaries. They pay collateral metro officers who are SWAT, snipers and hostage negotiators an additional 1.5 percent more of their regular salaries. The city of Round Rock in Texas pays SWAT team members an additional $50 per month, or $600 per year.
Even though most SWAT team members receive little extra compensation for their participation on these special tactical units, they typically must exceed standard police officer requirements. For example, many SWAT officers must meet and maintain higher fitness levels, as well as be trained in several weapons systems.