Law enforcement professionals are entrusted with the safety and lives of the citizens, which, as one can imagine, is a huge responsibility. In return for their important work, these officers are rewarded with special salary rates, larger annual salary increases, larger pension and retirement packages, and increased job security, to name just a few of the benefits.
Educational requirements for Jobs in Law Enforcement
First, to improve your chances of getting a job in law enforcement, a sound educational background is needed. Additionally (and this is also very important), you need a spotless record. Good grades and relevant internships with a local law enforcement agency will enhance your resume, and good health can only improve your chances of being considered.
If you’re in the position to do so, getting a criminal justice degree should be a top priority. Other than that, the following degree programs may also prove helpful:
- Internal affairs/international relations
- Police science
- Homeland Security
- Public safety
What makes a criminal justice degree special is that, unlike these other programs, it’s more “complete” for a law enforcement career.
Aside from getting your criminal justice degree, it’s advisable to take a few courses in high-demand areas such as emergency management and cyber security to build your CV. Several law enforcement agencies including Homeland Security, the FBI, and the CIA have openly moaned over a shortage of candidates trained in cyber security. So, getting cyber security training in advance would significantly boost your chances of getting a job with any of these agencies.
8 Career Options to Consider
The fact that police officers are the most common law enforcement officers doesn’t mean they are the only ones. Armed with your degree, here are eight other options that you can pick from.
- Bomb & Arson Specialist
These are officers with special training in detection and disarming of bombs and explosives. The officers are often called in to research the cause of an explosion to determine whether there was foul play or if the explosion was caused by natural events.
- K-9 Unit
The K-9 Unit comprises officers who work with specially trained dogs used to conduct searches for missing persons, drugs, or even assist with crowd control. This police unit has played a major role in finding criminals and bombs in hiding.
- Commander relations officers
These are professionals tasked with being the liaison between the community they are assigned and the police department. They help keep watch on the neighborhood’s crime environment and provide tips to other police authorities to help with crime prevention efforts.
- Special Weapons & Tactics Team (SWAT)
SWAT teams use highly developed weapons and tactics and are often called in to help with pursuing high risk criminal activities, counter terrorism, hostage scenarios, bomb plots, and riot control activities, among others.
- Internal Affairs (IA)
This is a special division within the law enforcement profession that investigates possible misuse of power. Due to the sensitive nature of their work, the officers report to the highest in command, such as Chief of Police.
These include investigative and detective units such as the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Even the Secret Service belongs to this group. It’s another exciting career option for criminal justice degree holders.
- Forensic Psychologist
A forensic psychologist’s career is centered on the intersection of law and psychology. Their job is to apply their expertise in psychology to the criminal justice system. For example, oftentimes they’ll have to psychologically evaluate a criminal to determine their mental state at the time of the offense. This is a fascinating career choice for those interested in the psychology behind crimes.
- Support positions
Finally, there are several support positions to explore including fingerprint technician, crime lab technician, linguist, and crime scene analyst.
There are plenty of career options within the law enforcement profession and your educational background and specialization can help guide you towards one that is right for you. A relevant Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree while training in high demand areas is a good way to secure your success within this growing field