“Being a police officer in America is a tough job.”

Johan Renck, Director

Pros and Cons of Being a Police Officer

advantages and disadvantages of being a police officer

Many children dream of becoming a police officer. However, in reality, there are also many downsides related to this job.

I show you all the pros and cons of being a police officer so you can make a profound decision of whether you still want to become a police officer or not.

Table of Contents

Policeman Job Profile

Short Job DescriptionPolice officers keep our streets safe and resolve conflicts between people on a daily basis. They also make sure that people who don’t play according to the rules get arrested.
Salary$55,000 per year on average, ranging from $45,000 to $75,000 per year.
Job SecurityGood job security.
Job SatisfactionRather low job satisfaction.
Work-Life BalanceDecent work-life balance.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Mentally and physically demanding job.
Future OutlookGood since not many people want to do this job.
RequirementsNo special educational requirements.

Advantages of Being a Police Officer

  1. You have a high reputation in society
  2. Police officers can keep their neighborhoods safe
  3. You can help out your family and friends
  4. Police officers get high levels of responsibility
  5. Plenty of different fields you can work in
  6. Policemen have good job prospects
  7. You learn how to deal with difficult people
  8. Police officers get action on a regular basis
  9. You will become really good friends with your colleagues
  10. Most police officers have a high fitness level
  11. You have the power to do good for others
  12. Police officers can retire relatively early
  13. Additional benefits for police officers

You have a high reputation in society

One benefit of being a police officer is that you will have a pretty good standing in society. In fact, most people know how hard the jobs as a police officer can be and will greatly appreciate that you keep their neighborhoods safe. Many people will also secretly admire you for what you are doing for them.

Hence, if you want to have this high social standing and the admiration of others, becoming a police officer can be the right way to go for you in this regard.

Police officers can keep their neighborhoods safe

Another advantage of being a policeman is that you can keep your neighborhood safe. In fact, many police officers have an inner motivation to protect the people they already know from early childhood. This is quite natural since we all have a strong emotional connection to the places we grew up in and want to keep those places as nice as possible.

As a police officer, you have the power to significantly improve the conditions in your neighborhood since you can send people who behave in a criminal manner to court and many of them will end up in jail and can no longer have a bad influence on your neighborhood.

You can help out your family and friends

As a police officer, you can also help your family and friends in case they get problems with neighbors or suffer from any other injustice. In fact, if people know that your family and friends know a police officer quite well, they will often act in a more respectful manner since they know that they can get into all sorts of trouble if they misbehave.

Consequently, your family and friends will likely also have an easier time in their daily lives in general.

Police officers get high levels of responsibility

Another upside of a career as a police officer is that you can also get significant levels of responsibility already early on in your career. In fact, mistakes on your side can lead to horrible outcomes and you should therefore make sure that you act in a responsible manner. For instance, one mistake on your side can take away lives.

While many people don’t want to have this high level of responsibility, others love it and if you are the kind of person who really wants to have this power, becoming a police officer might be the right way to go for you.

Plenty of different fields you can work in

As a police officer, you can also work in many different fields. You may start your career as normal patrolman, but you can get promoted pretty soon if you are ambitious enough and are willing to put in the work. You can also work in many different departments.

If you don’t like your colleagues or your work environment at all, you can still be transferred to a different department where conditions will hopefully be much better.

Hence, as a policeman, you will have a significant level of freedom regarding where and on what topics you want to work on.

Policemen have good job prospects

Since there will always be people who don’t comply with the law, police officers will always be needed and your future job prospects will be quite decent. In fact, while many other jobs will be automized and will be carried out by machines in the near future, policemen are not that replaceable since there is plenty of individuality and discretion in each case and police officers have to make decisions depending on many different variables and circumstances.

Moreover, I also don’t think that people want to be supervised and controlled solely by machines. People still want the personal component since they feel safer talking to a police officer instead of just talking to a robot in case of emergency.

Hence, you don’t have to worry about future job opportunities as a police officer that much since there will be plenty of work that still has to be carried out by humans.

You learn how to deal with difficult people

Policemen also learn how to deal with difficult people early on in their careers. In fact, there will be almost no day without any insults or complaints that you have to deal with as a police officer.

While this can be quite annoying and emotionally challenging, you will also learn how to keep your emotions under control and how to react to difficult situations. In turn, you will become much more relaxed.

This will not only make your life as a police officer easier, but you can also profit from it in your private life since the skill to make rational decisions under difficult circumstances is crucial to succeed in various parts of life in general.

Police officers get action on a regular basis

Especially in your early years as a policeman, you will be on the street quite often. This also means that you have to interact with the general public on a daily basis and you will also be the one who has to solve conflicts.

While this can be exhausting and you will see many bad things during your career, you will also get significant action and chances are that you will never get bored as a police officer since so many different things will happen throughout your career.

Thus, becoming a police officer can also be a great career path for you if you love excitement and action on a regular basis.

You will become really good friends with your colleagues

As a police officer, you will also become really good friends with your colleagues over time. In fact, you will spend plenty of time together and will be able to talk about myriads of different topics. In turn, you will get to know each other quite well and your colleagues will become your second family.

Quite often, you will also spend your leisure together and some police officers even spend plenty of time together after they retire. Hence, you can make really strong bonds during your career as a police officer and can even make friends for a lifetime.

Most police officers have a high fitness level

Another advantage of becoming a police officer is that you will also stay quite fit during your active career. Since you will have to resolve conflicts on a regular basis and also have many stressful days during your career, chances are that you will stay in shape.

A high fitness level is not only crucial to stay healthy in the long run, it can also help you in the dating market and makes your life easier in various other aspects.

While many people who work in office jobs have to go to the gym to stay in shape, you as a police officer don’t have to do this since you will stay in shape in a natural manner and can spend your time in a more enjoyable manner.

You have the power to do good for others

As a policeman, you will also have the power to do good for others. In fact, you will have the authority to stop injustice and unlawful behavior whenever you see it and can therefore improve the circumstances of the majority of people in our society.

The more ambitious you are, the more people you can help and this can give you a feeling of having a purpose in life. Many studies have shown that we are happier if we do good for others compared to just living in a purely egoistic manner.

Hence, as a police officer, you will have the power to improve the lives of many people who will be thankful for what you do for them forever.

Police officers can retire relatively early

Policemen can also retire earlier than people in most other jobs. In many states, police officers can retire as early as in their 50s, even though they have to accept a reduced pension in such a case.

Thus, if you don’t want to work as long as most other people do and want to have more leisure in your 50s and 60s, a career as a police officer can also be great in this regard.

Additional benefits for police officers

As a police officer, you will also enjoy many additional perks. For instance, since many people really appreciate your work, you will often get meals for free in your favorite restaurants. Police officers usually also get more money if they work on weekends, in the nighttime or on holidays.

Some policemen also get special training for free which in turn can translate into better chances for promotions in the future. As you can see, there are many additional benefits for police officers and this can compensate for the relatively low salary policemen get at the beginning of their careers.

Disadvantages of Being a Policeman

  1. Police officers don’t get rich
  2. Many people have lost respect for the police
  3. You have to make difficult decisions
  4. You can lose your job due to one big mistake
  5. Job satisfaction is rather limited
  6. Being a police officer is not the safest job
  7. Your family will worry every day
  8. Police officers have to work at nighttime
  9. You may even have to work on holidays
  10. Shifts can be quite long
  11. Being a police officer can be stressful
  12. Many police officers suffer from sleeping problems
  13. Some police officers can’t deal with events from the past
  14. Mental issues are quite common
  15. People may sue you
  16. You see the worst of people
  17. Hiring process can be demanding
  18. You have to rely on your colleagues
  19. Especially problematic if you have to work in bad neighborhoods
  20. Police officers have to deal with plenty of paperwork

Police officers don’t get rich

As we can see from the previous chapter, there are definitely many important advantages of working as a police officer. However, there are also many downsides related to this career path. For instance, one disadvantage of being a police officer is that you will not get rich.

In fact, most police officers don’t earn more than 70,000 dollars a year and especially in big metropolitan areas, this will imply a rather simple lifestyle since rents will eat up a significant fraction of the income.

Hence, depending on the area you live in, you may really struggle to build wealth as a policeman and many police officers will never be able to afford buying their own homes.

Many people have lost respect for the police

Over the past years, there has also been a trend of people losing respect for the police. In fact, attacks and insults towards police officers have increased quite a lot over the past years.

This is not only quite sad, it also makes the job of police officers much more difficult since people often just no longer comply with the commands of policemen.

Consequently, be aware of the fact that people will not respect you that much anymore and that you will have to deal with insults or even attacks sooner or later in your career.

You have to make difficult decisions

Police officers also have to make really difficult decisions. In case of emergency, it will be on you to decide whether there is the need to take away the lives of people or not.

Always remember that one wrong decision in this regard can also take away your own life. Hence, you will have a huge responsibility in this regard and under pressure, chances are that you will also make wrong decisions sooner or later.

Consequently, those wrong decisions can really break you in the long run since you will know that a better choice of you could have saved lives and many police officers simply can’t deal with those things in an emotionally proper manner.

You can lose your job due to one big mistake

Another problem with being a police officer is that you can also lose your job due to only one big mistake. Imagine you take away the life of a person and it turns out that this has not been necessary at all. Especially if this case is revealed in public, chances are that there will be huge shitstorms on social media and the pressure to fire you will be enormous.

Hence, don’t think that your job as a police officer is entirely safe. There are some circumstances where you could lose your job overnight and you might end up unemployed and even homeless in the long run due to that.

Job satisfaction is rather limited

Many police officers are also just not happy with their jobs. Most young people have a relatively naïve view of how the job as a policeman really looks like and most hopes and wishes will fade soon.

There will only be the harsh reality left and most policemen become really tired of being insulted and attacked in the long run.

Being a police officer is not the safest job

As a police officer, you will also be at significant risk of serious attacks and many police officers even die during their careers. In fact, being a policeman is not safe at all and you should be aware of the fact that you put your life at risk every time you leave your home.

Consequently, if you are not willing to take this risk, you should definitely go for a different career path instead.

Your family will worry every day

You will not only put your own life on the line, also the quality of life of your family will suffer quite a lot since your kids and your spouse will always worry about you. As long as your kids are still small, they will not realize how dangerous your job really is. However, once they get older, they will notice that every goodbye can be the last one.

This will also be quite hard for yourself since you will never know whether you will see your kids again or not. Hence, make sure that your career is worth all this emotional stress to you before becoming a police officer.

Police officers have to work at nighttime

Another downside of becoming a police officer is that you will also have to work at nighttime. In fact, night shifts are rather common and if you don’t want to work at night, you should just go for another occupation instead.

You may even have to work on holidays

Policemen not only have to work at nighttime, they also have to work on holidays. In fact, unlawful behavior doesn’t care about holidays too much and you as a police officer have to chase the bad guys on holidays as well.

This could mean that you will not be able to celebrate Christmas or other important holidays with your family and your kids will be quite sad and may even resent you for that in the long run.

Shifts can be quite long

You may also have to work quite long shifts as a policeman. In fact, shifts of 10 hours+ are quite common and this can be really exhausting, especially at nighttime when you will often count every minute until it will eventually be time to go home and fall into your bed.

Being a police officer can be stressful

Many people also greatly underestimate the stress that comes along with being a police officer. In fact, it is not easy at all to be a police officer and to deal with all the emotional burden that comes along with it.

You will also have to make difficult decisions within minutes or even seconds and your life will not be as easy as you might think now.

Many police officers suffer from sleeping problems

Due to the bad things and the difficult decisions they have to make during their shifts, many police officers also suffer from serious sleeping issues. Many policemen stay awake at night and think about the bad things that they have experienced during the day.

Since enough sleep is crucial for our body and our brain to work properly, sleep deprivation can lead to many serious health issues and also significantly decreases overall quality of life.

Some police officers can’t deal with events from the past

Especially if you can’t forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the past, you will have a really hard time with being a police officer. In fact, you will make many mistakes throughout your career and some of these mistakes can even cost lives.

Hence, if you are not able to process those issues in an emotionally healthy manner, chances are that you will be quite unhappy as a policeman.

Mental issues are quite common

Many policemen also develop mental issues in the long run. In fact, policemen are at much higher risk to suffer from mental problems since they have to deal with so many conflicts and also see so many bad things during their active careers.

Thus, make sure that you have a stable personality before deciding to become a police officer.

People may sue you

If you make mistakes, people may even sue you. In fact, this can get really nasty, especially if your mistakes have led to serious adverse outcomes.

You may not only lose your job, you may even have to pay high fines and this could ruin you also from a financial perspective.

You see the worst of people

As a police officer, you will also have to deal with many difficult family problems and you will generally see the worst of humanity. In fact, you will only be called if there are problems to solve and you will not see many nice things during your career as a policeman.

Hence, make sure that you are able and willing to deal with all this negativity before deciding for becoming a police officer.

Hiring process can be demanding

It is also not that easy to become a police officer. You will have to pass many different tests and many people fail those tests.

Thus, make sure that you also have backup plans in case you will not be suitable for a police career.

You have to rely on your colleagues

As a police officer, you will also have to rely on the support of your colleagues. In fact, teamwork is key during your operations and if you have colleagues that don’t have your back, you may even lose your life due to that.

Hence, your life will depend on the reliability of your colleagues and if you don’t want to put your life into the hands of others, chances are that becoming a police officer will not be the right way to go for you.

Especially problematic if you have to work in bad neighborhoods

How pleasant your life will be as a police officer also greatly depends on the neighborhood you have to work in. While your job will be relatively easy in good neighborhoods, it can be a nightmare in bad neighborhoods where people just don’t respect you at all.

Sometimes, you will also not be able to choose the neighborhood you have to work in and you might get unlucky and have to work in a rather bad one.

Police officers have to deal with plenty of paperwork

Many people also underestimate the amount of paperwork police officers have to deal with. In fact, you will spend a significant fraction of your day as a police officer writing reports and documenting how things have happened and if you are not willing to do this kind of paperwork, you may want to search for other job opportunities instead.

Top 10 Being a Policeman Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being a Policeman ProsBeing a Policeman Cons
Policemen have a high reputationBeing a policeman can be risky
You can do good for othersStressful job
You can help your family and friendsPeople may lose respect
Policemen can support local neighborhoodsPolicemen don’t make a lot of money
Police officers can retire earlySleeping problems are rather common
Most people will appreciate your workYour mistakes can cost lives
You learn how to deal with difficult peopleYou see the worst of people
Policemen stay fitProblematic if you have a family
You will have actionDemanding hiring process
You can work in different fieldsYou have to rely on your colleagues

Should You Become A Police Officer?

Now that you know all the pros and cons of being a police officer, it is on you to decide whether you still want to become a policeman or if you want to go for an alternative career path instead.

In fact, there are countless career opportunities out there and you should just choose the one that seems to be right for you.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming a dentist

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming an actor

Sources

https://golawenforcement.com/articles/tips-for-going-into-law-enforcement/

https://www.how2become.com/blog/5-tips-to-pass-the-police-officer-selection-process/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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