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Several things enter into this answer. How good is the artist? What is his/her natural ability and training? What does his/her portfolio look like?

Some police artists are law enforcement officers already working for a department so their police art is part of their job.

Secondly, you have the full time police artist, (which there are not a lot of them in the whole country), who works in a large metropolitan city where there are many crimes daily. This person could receive from $30-75,000 annually, plus work with federal or state agencies as well at a set hourly rate such as $50 an hour.

Next, and most common, are the freelance or special officer police artists that small to medium size law enforcement departments use due to the need being less due to a lower crime rate. These artists are usually paid an hourly rate for time and travel in the area of $15-50 an hour plus mileage. Again, location and size of department budgets dictate pay scales. (e.g. You can do a composite in two hours and you do it at the police station, you make $30 to $100 for your time.) Some agencies will pay for specialized course training for the artist as a bonus or incentive. Figure $500 to $5,000 annually for this part-time on-call position.

It is a hard field to break into, unless you have a proactive sheriff, police chief or head of detectives that sees the benefit and talent a police artist can supply.

Lastly, you may have to do some "free" sketches to get in the door and prove your ability. A strong portfolio and a live presentation may prevent freebies.

Remember, it is not only the art, it is interacting and talking with witnesses, victims and sometimes hardened criminals, that you have to get information you can turn into a composite for law enforcement to use. People skills, listening ability, asking the right questions and reading between the lines of testimony are very critical to being successful as a police artist (or composite sketch artist, as the title has become).

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โˆ™ 2009-07-17 21:51:47
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Q: How much does a police sketch artist make a year?
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