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How Much Does Swat Make?

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SWAT: An Elite Position in Public Service

If you're decisive, physically strong and communicate well, you may want to train to become a SWAT officer. The training is rigorous, as it needs to be for such an important position. SWAT officers earn a great wage, have job security and good benefits. If you want to save lives, make a real difference in the world and haven’t started a family yet, this could be the position you were cut out for. It's a job that could, however, present serious challenges for a parent.

Job Description

Working for SWAT means being on call to respond whenever a crisis might occur, facing life-threatening situations and dealing with people who are threatening others and who may be dangerous and mentally ill or aggressive. The specialized training for this position helps SWAT officers react appropriately to each situation, no matter what is involved. Expert knowledge of and experience with weapons and other equipment such as rifles, machine guns, hand grenades and night vision systems is mandatory. Most SWAT officers perform duties of a police officer and then respond when a critical incident occurs.

Education Requirements

After graduating from high school or obtaining a GED, it's important to earn an associate or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field for the best consideration to become a SWAT officer. Criminal justice studies include courses in subjects such as criminal law and crime scene investigation.

The next step is to become a police officer, first attending a police academy to undergo strenuous physical training and to learn policing tactics and interview techniques for suspects. Human relations come into play to facilitate understanding human behavior and stress management procedures. Additional training in patrol procedures, crime scene processing and criminal investigation techniques round out the preparation for working as a police officer. After graduating from the police academy, you'll need several years of experience as a police officer before pursuing SWAT officer status.

Becoming a SWAT officer involves passing a written exam, which also includes an interview, an in-depth psychological exam, a skill evaluation and fitness testing. Police officers that are chosen for SWAT return to the police academy for training in special weapons use and defense tactics. Ongoing education is generally required for SWAT officers.


SWAT officers work in a variety of environments, basically wherever a critical situation arises. It can be anywhere from crowd or riot control to a warrant service under fire from a citizen. You may be required to work hostage situations, protect foreign dignitaries or apprehend suspects who are barricaded and armed. SWAT also tracks fugitives in rural environments where terrain can be rough or wet.

Years of Experience

According to PayScale, a police officer earns an average yearly salary of $49,808. As you gain experience, your pay will rise significantly. Here is a projected table of average annual salaries by years of experience:

  • 0-5 years: $44,000
  • 5-10 years: $50,000
  • 10-20 years: $55,000
  • Over 20 years: $64,000

As a SWAT officer, you can expect your wages to be higher than this projection due to the overtime hours you'll work. You'll also enjoy bonuses and profit-sharing to add to your income.

Job Growth Trend

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this profession will grow by 7 percent (at about the same rate as all other jobs) over the next decade. Public safety servants are always needed, and more critical operations requiring the services of SWAT teams present themselves now than in the past.

If you obtained an associate or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you have the best chance of becoming accepted as a SWAT officer. In addition, learning a foreign language can also make you a more valuable candidate for SWAT.