How Much Does It Pay To Be A Hero?

By Stephanie Powers | July 09, 2010 AAA
How Much Does It Pay To Be A Hero?

Who are America's superheroes? They are the men and women who show up when you dial 911; the ones who swore an oath to serve their country. They use their special skills and training to rescue us, fight crime and keep us safe. We appreciate them, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their superhuman acts of courage are only marginally rewarded. Most superheroes are government employees, but some are actually volunteers. Here is a list of superheroes and the salaries they earn.

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State and Local Law Enforcement Officers
We depend on police officers to enforce the laws, prevent crime, solve criminal cases, chase down criminals and generally make us feel safe. Police officers serve in dangerous capacities including local beat officers, Highway Patrol officers, and Sheriff's Deputies. Work schedules can be long and often stressful. They also spend a lot of time documenting their work.

State and local law enforcement organizations require new recruits to have some college training. The demand for law enforcement workers is growing, but the economic downturn crippled state and local municipalities. Federal grants supplement budget deficits, but many police departments resorted to salary freezes and even layoffs.

  • The national average salary for police officers is $55,180.
  • Detectives and other investigators average $65,860.
  • Supervisors and managers make $78,580

Federal Law Enforcement Agents
The federal government employs law enforcement personnel in several different agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Agency and others. Federal agents have strict selection requirements. They make a decent salary, but travel often and work long hours.

As federal employees, agents are paid on the general services (GS) pay scale. For example, new FBI agents start at GS 10, $43,441. Law enforcement officers also receive a local market supplement (LMS), so salaries vary depending on location. Federal agents can earn Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) for overtime on top of their base salary and LMS; it can be up to 25% of their earnings. (Looking for a job? Check out 5 Sectors Hiring Now.)

Firefighters
As first responders, firefighters are on the scene for many different emergencies whether it's a blazing building, a mangled automobile accident or a kitten stuck in a drain pipe.

The brave men and women who fight fires are mostly employed by local municipalities. Fire departments have an intensive selection process and training program. In an effort to recruit local citizens, some towns offer other incentives such as reduced property taxes on homes purchased within the municipality's jurisdiction.

Many state and local fire departments have felt the sting of the recession. Though the need for firefighters is expected to increase, local revenues are down, forcing budget cuts and freezing salaries.

  • National verage salary: $47,270
  • Supervisors and managers earn an average of: $71,680

Some communities utilize volunteer firefighters. Firefighters also earn overtime pay, paid vacations and holidays. Many communities offer pensions and healthcare benefits. Unions offer members insurance and other benefits

Military Personnel
The jobs carried out by military personnel are varied from administrative work to combat, construction and managerial duties. Extensive training and dedication to service provide a network of services both domestically and abroad. Each unit of the military provides its own set of qualifications, but in general officers require college training and make more than enlisted personnel.

The base salary pay range depends on rank and length of service. Enlisted personnel make from $1300.00 a month to $62,222 per year. Officers earn $31,864 to $176,263. In addition to base pay, military personnel receive free room and board or a tax-free living allowance, free health and dental care, paid vacations, and special foreign duty allowances. Veterans of the military continue to receive medical care, are eligible for special tax incentives and education incentives.

Fish and Game Wardens
For hunters, fishermen, hikers, and other nature enthusiasts, fish and game wardens enforce laws and provide rescue services. They often cover large expanses of land or water and sometimes work in harsh weather conditions. Most are employed by state government or federal agencies to patrol publicly owned property. (For more, see 6 Surprisingly Dangerous Jobs.)

Fish and game wardens' average salary is $54,950.

Paramedics and EMT
Americans rely on emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to provide emergency medical care. In trauma situations, they know the how to save your life and the quickest route to the hospital in rush hour traffic. They are either part of the local fire department or ambulance service. Most paramedics are employed by local municipalities. Some hospital healthcare systems operate their own ambulance services and some local governments outsource to private ambulance services.

Paramedics earn an average salary of $33,020.



The Bottom Line
Folks who run toward danger are a special breed. The country depends on their courage and service every day. They may not get rich but their dedication to their jobs is greatly appreciated. (For more, see America's 10 Most Dangerous Jobs.)

Catch up on the latest financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: More Spilled Oil, Fewer Jobs.

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