Not many professions these days allow you to retire after just 20 years with a comfortable pension and benefits. But if you want to retire early with a pension that will allow you to live comfortably, continue supporting your family, and maybe even travel, you should consider becoming a police officer.
Police officers in most states are eligible for retirement after 20 years, and they receive a good pension. The average pension for a retired police officer is about $58,563. If you want to work longer than 20 years, you’ll collect a bigger pension. A retired police officer in Carlsbad, California who put 28 years into the force will get a pension of about $76,440, for example. It’s common for police officers to retire after they put in their 20 years, and rare to see an officer still working the beat after two decades.
Police Officers Earn Great Pensions
It’s true that being a police officer is dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, policing is one of the most difficult occupations, with one of the highest rates of injury and death. However, many police officers enjoy the excitement of working on the streets. You need strong people skills to be a police officer, since you’ll need to defuse tense situations and work with some members of the public who will have no reason to welcome your attention.
When you go to school online for a degree in criminal and social justice, you’ll be qualified to hold a number of law enforcement positions. A police officer earns an average salary of about $56,980 a year, while a police chief earns around $82,710 a year, and a federal law enforcement agent earns about $103,180. If you choose to spend your career as a police officer, you’ll be eligible for a pension that equals about half of your highest annual salary with overtime.
In many locations, your pension will increase substantially with each additional year you spend on the force. Police departments appreciate veteran officers who want to stay on the force, because they can impart the wisdom of their many years of experience to the new recruits, helping them learn to handle the many delicate situations police officers encounter. If you join the force in your mid-to-late-20s and stay on until you’re 55, you can receive a pension large enough to allow you and your spouse to live comfortably throughout your retirement. In another career, you’d have to earn twice as much, and save half your salary every year, to get the kind of generous pension you’d get as a police officer. You’ll get full health care benefits as a retiree, too.
Early Retirement Is Popular Among Police Officers
Law enforcement is one of the few careers in which early retirement is the norm, not the exception. Most young police officers already anticipate their retirement from the day they begin on the force. While some seasoned veterans remain on the force after they become eligible for retirement, that’s a choice, not a requirement.
Most young police officers join the force in their 20s and retire in their 40s or early 50s, ready to start a second career in private investigation or security. Some start their own businesses.
You Can Move Up the Ladder, Too
It’s true that not many police officers continue working the beat as they approach middle age. Many take desk jobs and begin working their way up the ladder as they get older. Some become detectives or investigators. With a Master’s in Criminal and Social Justice, you could even be qualified to teach criminal justice or law enforcement at the university level after you leave the force.
If you’re looking for a career option that will let you retire early with a good pension, you might want to consider becoming a police officer. Law enforcement is an exciting career that allows you to be of service to others. You’ll be eligible for retirement after 20 years, and if you continue working for longer than 20 years, you’ll earn even more pension money. Enjoy a comfortable retirement from an early age, or use the money to begin a second career. The choice is yours.