31 Fantastic Jobs for Retired Police Officers Who Want Second Careers
By Crystal Lee
| Last Updated April 10, 2020
Leaving active duty law enforcement doesn't have to mean leaving the work world entirely. That's because jobs for retired police officers are abundantly available. Whether you are drawn to roles in security and investigations or would prefer to explore a completely new field, the skills and experience you gained during your years on the force can be leveraged into all kinds of rewarding opportunities.
It's common for police officers to retire while they are reasonably young, which gives them a unique chance to dedicate several years to a new career. Many former cops go on to satisfying positions in law, aviation, healthcare, education, communications, and a host of other sectors. So if you're thinking, "I'd like to keep working, but I don't want to be a police officer anymore," relax. Plenty of other career paths are open to you.
This article outlines more than a dozen potential jobs for ex-officers who would like to continue in some sort of law enforcement or security capacity. It also describes a wide variety of options for former cops who are looking to strike out in a whole new direction. Here's the reality: For a retired police officer, job opportunities abound. So read on to discover what your future could hold!
Unless noted as being from (1) PayScale, (2) JobMonkey, or (3) ZipRecruiter, the earnings below represent median salaries and are based on 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.
- 14 careers for retired police officers who want to stay in investigations or security
- 17 jobs for retired cops who want something totally different
- What transferable skills do police officers possess?
- Why do many police officers pursue second careers?
14 Careers for Retired Police Officers Who Want to Stay in Investigations or Security
You can do a lot of things after being a police officer, but many ex-cops like to stay in the law enforcement realm. Here are 14 examples of jobs for retired police officers who still want to do investigative or security-related work:
1. Corporate security manager—$100K1
This is one of the most common jobs for retired law enforcement professionals. Corporate security managers are in charge of safeguarding both people and property. They evaluate and mitigate risks, oversee and manage guards, and develop and enforce security policies. They also ensure that all staff are prepared to deal with emergencies such as fires or bomb threats.
2. Cybersecurity specialist—$98K
The cybersecurity field offers excellent careers for retired cops who thrive on fast-paced work that continually poses new challenges. Your ability to solve problems and adapt to evolving threats can serve you well in this role. In fact, while being tech-savvy is certainly an asset, almost one-third of North American cybersecurity professionals come to the job with a background in something other than information technology.
3. Intelligence analyst—$92K1
Gathering, interpreting, and analyzing information in order to identify security threats and predict the activities of terrorists is the job of intelligence analysts. Their findings are used to shape the policy decisions of government agencies and private corporations. Federal jobs for retired police officers in this field are sometimes available with the FBI, but they all require a bachelor's degree. Most analysts have backgrounds in areas like criminal justice, cybersecurity, homeland security, or political science.
4. Forensic accountant—$71K
The investigative and testimony-giving experience you gain as a cop could be put to good use in the forensic accounting field. This job involves analyzing financial records to determine if any illegal activity has occurred, such as embezzlement, tax evasion, or money laundering. You'll need an accounting degree; some schools offer specific training in financial crime investigation.
Bodyguard positions can be good jobs after police work, especially for ex-officers who maintain their physical fitness. In this role, you protect the personal security of business executives, political leaders, celebrities, or anyone else who might be a target of kidnapping, harassment, or assault. That could involve planning out travel routes, searching vehicles and buildings, conducting security checks, or keeping strangers from coming too close.
6. Fraud investigator—$60K1
Government agencies, insurance firms, healthcare organizations, and financial institutions like to hire retired police officers to determine whether someone has lied or used deception in order to achieve a financial benefit. Fraud investigators collect and analyze evidence, conduct interviews, and write reports, all of which are common strengths of former cops. Having a talent for being covert can also be useful.
7. Parole officer—$53K
Instead of intervening when a crime occurs, why not focus on helping people who have been convicted of crimes change their lives? Parole officers try to help ex-prisoners reintegrate into society. They monitor parolees' progress and provide connections to services such as job training, addictions counseling, and housing assistance. Some work exclusively with specific populations, such as young people or sex offenders.
8. Private investigator (PI)—$50K
Eager for an independent investigative role after you retire? Police officers often become PIs after leaving the force. Common tasks include conducting background checks, providing surveillance services, and finding missing people. PIs typically work alone and can control their caseload, but since they lack the authority to compel testimony or detain witnesses, they need to be both patient and creative. Most states require PIs to be licensed.
9. Bounty hunter—$50K to $80K (average)2
For retired police, jobs in bail enforcement can be very satisfying. Unlike most cops, bounty hunters are free to use deception, cross state lines, and operate without warrants in the pursuit of a fugitive. You should know that some states require licensing or registration for bounty hunters, and a few do not allow bounty hunting at all. Be sure to check the specific regulations that apply in your area.
10. Crime scene investigator—$46K1
Crime scene investigation jobs are in a police department and often make enticing post-retirement jobs for cops who love to hunt for clues and sift through evidence. You have to be meticulous and precise in order to ensure that no detail goes undocumented and that all evidence is properly preserved. You might lift fingerprints, collect hair and tissue samples, gather bullet fragments, or take photos of the scene. If you'd rather deal with physical evidence than human suspects, this might make a good second career for you.
11. Deputy sheriff—$44K1
Deputy sheriffs are usually responsible for law enforcement throughout an entire county. (Typically, deputy sheriff is higher than police officer in terms of coverage area.) The main tasks of this role include operating the county jail and maintaining security in courthouses and government buildings. You might also investigate accidents, make arrests, serve warrants, or transport prisoners. Some positions are specifically designated as retired law enforcement jobs.
12. Public safety officer—$40K1
Educational institutions and community organizations frequently rely on public safety officers to patrol assigned areas, provide crowd or traffic control, answer questions from the public, and act as first responders in emergencies. Just like cops, public safety officers need good communication and conflict resolution skills to do their jobs. The goal is to maintain security.
13. Loss prevention specialist—$38K1
Asset protection is the name of the game for loss prevention specialists. Their primary task is to prevent and investigate instances of shoplifting, embezzlement, or employee theft in retail stores, warehouses, and outlet centers. They monitor surveillance footage and alarm systems, question suspects, and contact local police when necessary. They might also train staff on security procedures.
14. Security guard—$28K
You're probably accustomed to responding to incidents of violence, theft, or vandalism. But how would you like to take a more proactive approach to preventing such incidents? The main function of security guards is to deter illegal activities. They control access to a property, conduct security checks, maintain order, and respond to any crises that arise.
17 Jobs for Retired Cops Who Want Something Totally Different
With the valuable transferable skills they develop during their time on the force, police officers can do a wide range of other jobs after they retire (although some positions may require additional education or training). Check out 17 of the best jobs for retired cops who are looking to get into a whole new field:
Former police officers often make excellent lawyers. That's because they are intimately familiar with criminal law and procedure, and they understand how cops think and how courts operate. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you only need to complete three years of law school and pass your state's bar exam in order to become fully qualified.
2. Commercial pilot—$82K
Ever dreamed of soaring through the skies? Some retired cops become pilots when their law enforcement careers are over. After all, they're already used to following codified procedures, making decisions under pressure, and communicating clearly and effectively. As a commercial pilot, you might operate corporate jets, provide air tours, or conduct rescue operations. (In case you're wondering, you can wear glasses as a pilot, just like you can wear glasses in the police services.)
3. Clinical psychologist—$77K
Psychology can be an appealing second career for former front-line officers who know what it's like to endure traumatic experiences. You'll need to get a doctoral degree as well as a license from your state, but the satisfaction of helping people cope with mental and emotional challenges can make all the extra effort worthwhile.
4. Emergency management director—$74K
Being a police officer means being able to make tough decisions in chaotic and stressful situations, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. That type of experience is fantastic preparation for a career as an emergency management director. In this role, you develop disaster response plans, assess the extent of any damages, and coordinate recovery efforts.
5. Registered nurse (RN)—$72K
If a desire to serve others led you to become a cop, it may also inspire you to become a nurse once you turn in your badge. RNs deliver front-line patient care and can make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people. In many cases, a two-year program is all that's required to get you started in this rewarding field.
Many police officers are experienced at resolving disputes and brokering win-win solutions. If you have such skills, a career in mediation might suit you well. This job is all about facilitating communication between opposing parties to enable them to come to a settlement or agreement that works for both sides (without getting the courts involved). Legal training can be beneficial, but it's not required.
7. Script consultant—$60K (average)3
Entertainment companies often call on retired officers to lend their expertise so that movie and TV scripts involving cops are as accurate as they can be. Also known as technical advisors, script consultants might teach actors about the way real officers would wield a firearm, confront a suspect, or speak to a superior. This is typically freelance work, so you can control your own schedule.
8. Service sales representative—$55K
A lot of police work involves listening attentively, devising solutions to problems, and persuading or cajoling people to choose a particular course of action. All of these skills are highly applicable in a sales environment. It also helps to have training in marketing, communications, economics, business, or psychology.
9. High school teacher—$49K
Are you passionate about helping young people find their way in the world? The leadership, communication, and conflict resolution skills you developed during your years in law enforcement can be valuable assets in a high school classroom. You probably also have a good understanding of the poverty and addiction issues that can get in the way of some students' success. Many states have fast-track certification processes for prospective teachers who already have bachelor's degrees.
10. Truck driver—$44K
For many ex-cops, a career on the open road is a welcome change of pace from the hectic and stressful nature of police work. Operating a big rig means being able to see different parts of the country and work in peaceful solitude. And plenty of companies appreciate that their loads are secure with a former law enforcement professional at the wheel.
11. Personal trainer—$40K
A lot of police officers remain dedicated to physical fitness even after they retire from active duty. If you're still in reasonably good shape and love the idea of motivating others to reach their goals, why not become a personal trainer? A short certification program can help you develop relevant skills.
A journalist's job is to conduct research, interview people, verify facts, and write informative reports. Chances are that, as a cop, you did all of those things nearly every day. Many news outlets value the contributions of retired officers who have top-notch communication skills and a keen understanding of issues related to crime or the law.
13. Firearms instructor—$38K (average)3
Did you know that over 50 percent of American gun owners fail to store all their weapons safely? Clearly, there's a need for skilled firearms instructors to educate people on the proper way to carry, store, and shoot various types of guns. Men and women with years of law enforcement experience are a natural fit for such roles.
14. Victim advocate—$35K1
If your years of putting criminals in jail has left you with a desire to do more to support crime victims, you may want to consider becoming a victim advocate. Advocates are the people who help connect victims with medical, legal, or other community services. They might also accompany victims to court appearances, lead support groups, or provide counseling.
Police officers tend to be good listeners, and some former cops enjoy the socializing that goes along with cutting hair, trimming beards, and giving shaves. After all, many barber shops are community gathering places where men go for a classic cut and some engaging conversation. You can typically complete the required training in less than two years.
16. Home and pet sitter—$11.79 per hour1
Keeping an absent owner's home and pets safe and secure is one of the best jobs for retired police officers who love animals and enjoy the flexibility of work that allows them to travel. Homeowners know that ex-cops tend to be reliable and are experienced at staying calm when emergencies arise.
17. Dog trainer—$11.74 per hour1
Dog training makes a satisfying second career for many retired cops, particularly those who have experience working with K-9 partners. You could focus on basic obedience training or specialize in preparing dogs for law enforcement, protection, or search and rescue. A formal training program can help you fine-tune your skills.
What Transferable Skills Do Police Officers Possess?
A police department addresses crime and provides a feeling of security for residents in its jurisdiction. Fortunately, the qualities that make a good police officer—such as empathy, compassion, and integrity—can serve you equally well in a wide range of civilian occupations. Indeed, many of the skills you deploy in police work can be assets in other fields.
Here are some of the transferable skills that police officers have:
- Critical thinking and decision making—Police officers are accustomed to quickly sizing up a situation and choosing an appropriate course of action. They are trained to think clearly, stay focused, and act decisively even in the midst of chaos or crisis. They don't lose their cool when a situation goes sideways.
- Interpersonal communication—Cops know how to talk to people from all walks of life. They are often skilled at communicating with the public in a courteous and tactful manner and can deal effectively with people in different mental and emotional states. They tend to spend a lot of time interviewing witnesses and interrogating suspects, so they develop excellent listening skills.
- Attention to detail—Police officers are highly observant and detail-oriented. They are adept at noticing, remembering, and documenting tiny details about a suspect's behavior or a crime scene's appearance. They are also experienced at identifying potential dangers and acting to prevent such issues from getting worse.
- Management and leadership—The ability to positively influence others' behavior is a key skill that many police officers possess. They understand how to be a leader and inspire people to act in certain ways. And officers who rise through the chain of command know how to motivate subordinates to carry out their duties effectively.
- Conflict resolution—Defusing tension and de-escalating dangerous situations is all in a day's work for many police officers. They tend to be excellent negotiators, and they are frequently able to mediate a peaceful end to all kinds of disputes.
- Physical fitness—Being a cop is a physically demanding job. Police officers are prepared to instantly respond to physically stressful situations with no warning. They typically have the strength and stamina to run up a set of stairs, break through a door, and restrain an agitated suspect.
- Driving—Police officers are trained to operate a vehicle safely at high speed under adverse conditions (such as poor weather or heavy traffic). They know about proper maneuvering, skid control, and the physics of stopping.
Why Do Many Police Officers Pursue Second Careers?
Most people who become police officers begin their careers while fairly young, typically in their early 20s. (In fact, at some agencies, the maximum age for joining the police is 35. That's to ensure that all officers have the chance to work enough years to qualify for retirement benefits.) And since it generally takes 20 or 25 years of service to retire as a cop and receive a full pension, many officers retire at a relatively young age and look around for new opportunities.
Plus, the financial stability that comes with a police pension gives many retired officers the freedom to try out new career paths. A cop's pension is usually 50 to 70 percent of his or her peak earnings; in some cases, retired officers also receive Social Security benefits. So a second career for a retired police officer doesn't necessarily have to come with a high salary. That allows many ex-cops to explore new areas of interest.
Forge a New Path
As you've now learned, jobs for retired police officers span an incredibly diverse range of industries and sectors. But maybe your ideal second career requires some skills or credentials beyond what you picked up during your time in law enforcement. Vocational colleges and trade schools offer career-directed programs that can help you achieve the future you really want. Just put your zip code into the following search tool to generate a list of training options in your area!