What do you want to be when you grow up? For many people, the answer is “a policeman.”
Do you have what it takes to become a member of law enforcement? Do you have a sound mind, dedication and a good attitude? These might sound like simple requirements for any career position, but it’s worth considering that most law enforcement jobs require an extensive amount of training.
You will spend hours in class learning all about law enforcement, self-defense and how to properly use weapons on the job. All of this will take years before you are even ready to put on your uniform and patrol the streets. So if these requirements sound daunting or simply not your cup of tea, then there are other options available. Find out how you can get involved in law enforcement by clicking here.
Related: 20 High Paying Careers in Law Enforcement
There are many different things to consider when choosing a career. One of the most important factors for many people is whether or not they have an interest in the work. The law enforcement field is always in high demand, because it’s such an important role in our society. However, there are many different types of law enforcement careers to choose from.
With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start. This guide will cover all of the major aspects of what you need to think about before making a decision. From understanding your options and requirements, to developing skills and personality traits that are important for success in law enforcement, this blog will help you make the right choice for you!
Why work in the law enforcement field?
Those working in law enforcement have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Working in law enforcement allows people to use a wide variety of skills at once. Besides fighting crime and helping maintain public safety, law enforcement jobs allow employees to use their intelligence as well as their physicality.
Common skills of law enforcement workers
In particular, law enforcement workers must possess the following skills:
One of the top skills required for law enforcement workers is superior communication. The work environment requires interacting with everyone from children to career criminals. Those working in law enforcement must be able to effectively communicate with many kinds of people.
Given that those working in law enforcement have a lot of power over the lives of people they come into contact with, they must have a high level of integrity. They should be able to overlook biases and personal prejudices to make sound and ethical decisions at all times.
Law enforcement officers are often responsible for de-escalating difficult situations, so strong negotiation skills are important.
Law enforcement frequently includes attending to emergencies, officers should be able to arrive at scenes quickly. They will also need to assess dangerous situations and respond appropriately.
A positive attitude
Frequently being around crimes and criminals can be challenging. Law enforcement should be able to maintain a positive outlook to work their jobs effectively throughout their career.
Top law enforcement jobs
The following are some top positions for a career in law enforcement. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link for each job title below.
1. Correctional officer
National average salary: $19.19 per hour
Primary duties: Correctional officers are in charge of supervising incarcerated criminals and offenders who may be in jails, prisons, halfway houses and other related facilities. They are expected to keep inmates and staff members safe, prevent escapes, transport inmates and investigate inmates and cells for violations.
They typically work in secured correctional facilities but may be required to travel to other areas to take inmates to court dates and other places. To become a correctional officer, a minimum of a high school education is required. However, they often require a bachelor’s degree in the criminal justice field as well as a combination of three years of work experience. They must also have completed certifications from the American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association.
2. Victim advocate
National average salary: $40,658 per year
Primary duties: Victim advocates are tasked with helping their clients recover from trauma that may have been caused by crimes such as assault, violent robberies, domestic abuse and others. They are the intermediary between the victims and the criminal justice system and provide support, resources, and other ways to minimize and/or reverse the effects that were caused by the crime.
They often work in hospitals, jails, district attorney’s offices or in non-profit organizations. They also help law enforcement by investigating complaints, offering administrative support and improving upon the services being offered to victims. To become a victim advocate, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree as well as work experience in a related field. Otherwise, they must obtain a master’s degree in social work, psychology or criminal justice.
3. Federal marshal
National average salary: $62,693 per year
Primary duties: Federal marshals are members of the executive branch of the U.S. government. They are responsible for things such as protecting court officers, serving arrest warrants, transporting prisoners and more. They most commonly work in courts, jails and prisons, but may be called to any variety of locations to secure them and/or apprehend suspects.
To become a federal marshal, applicants must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and complete a physical, written and psychological exam. They must also have a minimum of three years of work experience as well as a clean background check. Lastly, they must attend a training academy for several months that prepares them for the unpredictability of working in this position.
4. Probation officer
National average salary: $47,908 per year
Primary duties: Probation officers are expected to help supervise, reform and rehabilitate offenders and criminals of all kinds. They may be required to perform background checks, administer drug tests, provide resources for gaining housing and securing employment, review and recommend sentences and more.
Probation officers may also fill the role of a parole officer, which means they deal with recently released prison inmates and oversee their job searches, housing accommodations and other elements required to survive in the outside world.
They typically work in an office setting but may be expected to go to courts, places of employment and the homes of offenders. To become a probation officer, applicants must pass a written, verbal and psychological test and earn an undergraduate degree in either social work, law enforcement, criminal justice or another related discipline.
5. Private investigator/detective
National average salary: $36,636 per year
Primary duties: Private investigators are responsible for using unconventional law enforcement methods to gather evidence, apprehend suspects and fugitives, maintain laws, and solve crimes, among other things. Detectives use methods such as conducting interviews, performing background checks, and may play an intricate role in raids and arrests.
They typically work in an office setting but may have to work in an array of dangerous situations and scenarios. Most commonly, detective and private investigators are involved in investigating homicides, drug-trafficking, and fraud cases, among others. Many private investigators begin as police officers, then gradually acquire the skills and training necessary to apply for a detective position.