Law Enforcement Jobs
The success of the United States over the last century and a half is due primarily to the strength of its legal system. Democracy is only possible if there are strong laws that are applied fairly and justly. The people that make sure laws are obeyed and crimes are punished work in law enforcement. Working in the law enforcement industry requires a strong and dedicated personality. The rewards extend beyond financial compensation; there is a good deal of pride, status, and satisfaction that comes with a law enforcement job.
Law enforcement officers work either at the local, state, or federal level. The competition for federal and state jobs is fierce. This is due to a higher than average compensation package, to the high status conferred and, in part, to budget cutbacks. Fewer available positions means that each posting will be more actively contested. Candidates for federal and state positions should have more advanced degrees and relevant experience. Local law enforcement positions have also faced cutbacks in recent years. Many officers are delaying retirement due to economic woes, and some municipalities have had to stall police academy classes for lack of job openings. That being said, local law enforcement positions tend to have fewer applicants per posting, making the competition less fierce than at the federal or state levels.
The prestige and satisfaction that comes with law enforcement comes at a price, as this industry has significant dangers and disadvantages. Law enforcement officers deal with criminals, often violent, on a daily basis. In the course of their work, they also come into contact with non-criminals experiencing life-threatening situations. The work is stressful and demanding. Officers are also first responders, meaning that they are called upon to manage dangerous situations, ranging from terrorist attacks to natural disasters. It is not a job for the faint of heart.
Law enforcement officers need specialized skills. Some of the skills, such as investigation and understanding of the law, can be learned through traditional educational institutions. Many schools offer an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. It is also possible to get a master’s degree in a specialized aspect of law enforcement, such as forensic science. There are other necessary skills that are taught at police academies around the country. Academies teach skills like gun handling, apprehending suspects, and other special issues in policing. They are often the best way to enter a local or state law enforcement service as graduates are posted directly to police departments upon completion of the course.
Last Updated: 11/11/2012