Starting a career in law enforcement provides a wide range of opportunities for advancement and stable employment that is unlikely to go away in the near future. There are 808,700 people who are currently employed in law enforcement in the U.S., so there are a broad range of jobs that you can choose from in the field. You can work as an investigator, police officer, intelligence officer, or in other important positions that are critical in any high-functioning society.
To start your career in law enforcement, you will need to start by getting the right education. Many jobs require an undergraduate degree, but you should be sure to research your prospective career path to fully understand what training you will need. Therefore, you should take a look at some of the best degree options that available for people who are seeking to start a career in the field of law enforcement.
Criminal justice is one of the best degree options for people in law enforcement because it directly addresses relevant topics. When you get a degree in criminal justice, your studies will almost exclusively focus on topics that you will use on a daily basis as a law enforcement officer. Criminal justice degrees teach about many related topics, such as the deterrence of crime, the psychology of criminals, and the management of law enforcement agencies. You will also get to learn about theories related to law enforcement that are used to make decisions in challenging sociological and political areas.
Learning about criminal justice specifically is useful for starting a career as a police officer, working in a correctional institution, joining the military, and for investigating crimes. Criminal justice degrees can even be useful in the private sector for people who wish to get into private security, premises security, or private investigations. Some people are even able to use their degree in criminal justice as a building block before going on to get an advanced degree as an attorney, psychologist, or military officer.
Criminal justice degrees come in many forms because of the broad range of topics that they cover. Many high schools, for instance, offer criminal justice classes or even certifications. Some criminal justice programs partner directly with law enforcement agencies to enable students to get practical experience while obtaining their education. You can also study for a criminal justice degree online, and this mode of study could be a good option if you wish to save time and money.
A degree in psychology can give you an understanding of the feelings, behaviors, and thought processes that lead to criminal activity. People who graduate with psychology degrees are in high demand in the law enforcement field because they can help law enforcement agencies to understand why crime occurs in the first place. When the psychology of criminals can be understood, law enforcement agencies can take preemptive actions to prevent crimes from occurring while minimizing their consequences.
Many people who graduate with criminal psychology degrees are able to get jobs in almost any branch of the government that involves the criminal justice system. If you get a degree in psychology, you could get a job as a law enforcement officer, a worker in the court system, a corrections officer, or even as a mental health professional. Most criminal psychology jobs are in the public sector, but there are also jobs available in private practices and privately owned hospitals.
Another major advantage of a psychology degree is that these programs provide you with a broad range of career options that you can pursue after graduation. If you want to get into another area of law enforcement, having a background in psychology is often a preliminary requirement. For instance, people who are involved in intelligence and investigations usually have to obtain some training in psychology before they can get started with their careers.
Obtaining a degree in law will also give you significant opportunities for advancement in your career. You can, of course, use your degree to become an attorney. As an attorney, you can continue to help law enforcement agencies. You can also help people who have been convicted of a crime to defend themselves.
However, you do not have to work as an attorney to utilize your undergraduate degree in law. You can use your law training to supplement your work as a police officer or to perform more effectively as an investigator. In fact, with a background in law, you will be an important addition to almost any law enforcement team.
The fields of law enforcement and law are highly compatible, so you can also leverage your background in law enforcement to achieve further advancement by assisting private law practices. If you go on to become a lawyer, law practices will be eager to recruit you because of your background. There are also a wide range of jobs available in the public sector that are in need of people who have an undergraduate degree in law or who become an attorney.
There are also plenty of opportunities for advancement in the forensics field. You can go on to get a masters degree in forensics, and this can help you to get involved in more complex projects or to obtain a leadership role in your law enforcement agency. You can also work on getting additional training for a second degree that is highly complementary with forensics work. Of course, your salary will also increase as you advance in your career.
Undergraduate degrees in cyber crime are sufficient to start your career. However, the field of computer science is highly competitive, so you may later decide that you want to pursue a masters degree. You can get your masters degree in computer science or branch into a more specialized field that will help you to earn a higher salary.
As a forensic accountant, you will primarily work in the office of a law enforcement agency. Many law enforcement agencies contract with private accounting firms to conduct investigations in specialized areas. You can also use your skills in accounting to help businesses detect fraud or other malicious activities within their organizations. Therefore, getting a degree in accounting could be a great start to a highly flexible career in both the public and private sectors.
On a practical level, many public safety specialists assist police officers and firefighters with organizing and coordinating their activities. For instance, some public safety specialists get jobs as emergency dispatchers or as public safety coordinators. The field of public safety can, therefore, be seen as doing the work that is necessary behind the scenes to keep communities safe.
When you get a degree in public safety, you will take a wide range of classes that will prepare you for helping to safeguard the public. Therefore, many public safety curricula allow you to specialize in a particular area, such as criminal justice, disaster relief, or cyber crime.
To get a job in public safety, you usually need to start by getting an undergraduate degree. There are some jobs that you can get with only a high school education, so you may be able to start your career while you get the training that you will need. However, after graduating, you can expect to get a relatively high salary as a law enforcement officer, as an investigator, or as an emergency management director.
Homeland security degrees can also be useful for people who wish to become law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers can detect potential threats while in the field when working as investigators. You can also use your homeland security degree to interview people who have been convicted of crimes or to understand the psychology of domestic terrorists.
Although many universities offer homeland security degrees, you can also consider enrolling in a homeland security training program while getting a relevant degree of your choice. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for instance, offers the FLETC college intern program for students who major in fields that are related to criminal justice. Enrolling in the FLETC program will get you a significant amount of training in homeland security that will help you to get a job after graduation.
There are also opportunities for advancement that a political science degree can help you to achieve. For instance, people with a political science background can act as liaisons who work with elected officials so that law enforcement agencies can negotiate for resources effectively. Political science majors can also help law enforcement agencies to purchase products and make decisions that are aligned with changes in the political environment. You can also help law enforcement agencies to foresee the emergence and impact of legislative changes so that they can make good decisions to utilize their resources in a more productive way.
Selecting the degree that is right for you is a decision that you should make after conducting thorough research. After all, the career path that you choose will likely be the focus of your life for several decades. If you choose a degree program that you will enjoy, you are likely to be motivated to get a high-paying job and to achieve further advancement. Therefore, you can set yourself up for success by putting in the effort to conduct your own research before diving into the degree of your choice.
At the root of every career in the criminal justice system is a desire to help. As a leader in criminal justice education, SNHU is committed to helping you learn how you can help. Earning your online law enforcement degree is the first step.
Lemieux is typical of many online law enforcement degree students, working full time, often on second and third shifts. He liked the flexibility of the online program and appreciated learning from faculty with experience and empathy.
The median salaries for jobs in this area were all above the median annual wage for all workers in 2021: correctional officers and bailiffs ($47,920), police and detectives ($66,020), and probation officers and correctional treatment specialists ($60,250).1 781b155fdc