Is A Law Enforcement Degree Right For You?
Law enforcement degrees have become an increasingly popular choice for those interested in criminal justice and the chance of having a fulfilling and rewarding, lifelong career. As society becomes more technologically advanced, the need for a more sophisticated law enforcement system has also come into play, with a strong emphasis being placed on security and safety in both the public and private sector. Now to face these needs, the law enforcement industry is growing which means more career opportunities are now available.
If you’re considering (or already attending) college and contemplating the best way to prepare yourself for a law enforcement career, think about taking a course in criminal justice, volunteering or interning with your campus or local police department. In addition, even though criminal justice studies are the conventional route for individuals who are interested in a career in law enforcement, there are several fields of study that can provide a good foundation including social work, psychology and sociology, all which are beneficial to police work.
Coupled with the rise of law enforcement career prospects comes an increasing demand for applicants with higher education. It is a well -known fact that a lot of law enforcement agencies today are encouraging job candidates to take post -secondary school courses in law enforcement associated subjects.
A law enforcement or criminal justice degree will prepare you for a wide range of rewarding and exciting employment opportunities, whether you’re considering becoming a police officer, sheriff, game ward, fire inspector, security or body guard. Most law enforcement related industries will require that you have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED for an entry level position. Some law enforcement agencies (higher paying ones) require a bachelor’s degree or a certain number of college credit hours. How long it will take to get a law enforcement degree depends on the degree level (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, etc.) and whether you’re attending a college, university or an online institution. The costs of getting your degree (s) will also vary depending on the college institution you choose.
As it is with most lucrative careers, the position pays more based on educational accomplishments and having a 4 year or an advanced degree will be a significant asset in your career advancement, especially when seeking a specialized assignment or getting a promotion.
Working toward a law enforcement degree can be much more than the typical jobs one thinks of. Having a degree in mathematics, accounting, linguistics or business studies as well as being involved in an ROTC program can open opportunities to work within the law enforcement field in your area of skill and interest. Analyzing data involved with financial crimes (like Forensic Accounting), going over taped conversations of suspects and interpreting the data, as well as testing firearms and other law enforcement equipment are just a few of the opportunities available.
Law Enforcement Salary Breakdown
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014/2015 Occupational Outlook handbook reported the following median national annual salary several law enforcement careers including:
- Sheriff /Police Supervisors $78,270
- Police and/or Detectives $56,980
- Police Patrol Officer $55,270
- Fire Inspectors $53,990
- Fish and Game Warden $48,760
- Correctional Officer $38,970
- Security Guards 24,020
- Park Rangers $23,300
If you’re considering law enforcement but are unsure if it is right for you, consider volunteering with your local police or sheriff’s department, serving as a reserve officer, or interning while in college. Many agencies offer ride-along and citizen police academies both are great ways to get a taste of what it would be like to work in law enforcement, its culture and its functions.