The Road to Competitive Salaries: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

The results of the Third Annual Campus Safety Salary Survey are in, and the news is good for some, but not for others. This first half of our two-part series discusses how sworn officer pay appears to be on the rise, making it easier for the campus law enforcement community to attract quality sworn personnel. Starting pay for nonsworn officers, however, has decreased, and women and some minorities remain underrepresented.

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Universities Pay Chiefs, Directors More Than Hospitals

Respondents who work for college campuses generally make more than those who work for hospitals. The average pay for college/university respondents is $68,366 and the median is $65,000. The average for hospital respondents is $63,146 and the median is $55,000.

Chiefs, directors and higher level security managers with campuses in large metro areas have the widest disparity in pay, with 28 percent making $60,000 or less; 39 percent making $60,001-$90,000; and 33 percent making more than $90,000. They also have the largest median and average pay rate at $75,000. The median pay rate drops by $10,000 to $65,000 for respondents from small metro areas, metro-adjacent urban areas and metro-adjacent rural areas.

Respondents from urban and rural areas that are not adjacent to metro areas receive a median salary of $55,000. Fifty-eight percent of those in small metropolitan areas make $30,001-$80,000; 73 percent in urban areas adjacent to metro areas make $30,001-$90,000; 64 percent in urban areas not adjacent to metro areas, 68 percent in rural areas adjacent to a metro area, and 62 percent in rural areas not adjacent to metro areas make $30,001-$70,000.

Location Affects Sworn, Nonsworn Officer Salaries
Campuses in large metro areas are the most likely to pay their novice nonsworn officers more than $25,000 per year (37 percent). Those in rural areas that are not metro adjacent are the least likely to pay that amount (20 percent) and are the most likely to pay at the bottom end of the pay scale — more than 58 percent pay $22,000 or less. Urban areas that are not adjacent to metropolitan areas are close behind — nearly 57 percent pay their nonsworn officers $22,000 or less (starting salary).

Rookie sworn officers in large metropolitan areas, small metropolitan areas, metro-adjacent urban areas and metro-adjacent rural areas are paid a median of $32,500 per year. That is $5,000 more than sworn officers in nonmetro-adjacent rural and nonmetro-adjacent urban areas, who are paid a starting median salary of $27,500.

Chiefs, Directors, Officers in West Generally Make More
With a median salary of $75,000 and average salary of more than $72,000, respondents in the West generally make more than those with campuses in other parts of the country. Nearly 40 percent of chiefs and directors with campuses locat
ed in the West are paid an annual salary of more than $80,000, while only 21 percent in the Midwest, 25 percent in the South and 35 percent in the Northwest make that amount.

Respondents from the South, with a median salary of $55,000, are paid the least, with 25 percent making $40,000 or less per year. Fifteen percent of those in the Midwest, 13 percent in the Northeast and 8 percent in the West make that amount. The median salary for respondents from the Midwest and Northeast is $65,000. The average salary for those from the Northeast, however, is more than $71,000, which is an indication that there are some higher wage earners in that region.

Starting pay for nonsworn officers is significantly lower in the South, with a median salary of $20,000, compared to $23,500 for the rest of the country. The average pay ($24,337) is the West is slightly higher than in the Midwest ($22,623) and Northeast ($23,538).

Sworn officers in the West are paid the most, with a median starting salary of $37,500 and average salary of more than $35,000. Those in the South make the least with a median starting salary of $27,500 and average salary of slightly greater than $30,000. Novice sworn officers in the Midwest and Northeast make a median of $32,500. Officers in the Midwest have a slightly higher average starting salary of nearly $33,000, while the average pay rate in the Northeast is $31,655.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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