Law Enforcement Education Online
In law enforcement, there are many different career paths to follow: police officer, detective, border patrol, federal agent and sheriff’s deputy, to name a few. Each has its own unique training and responsibilities, but each also has the common goal of protecting the public and public property from crime.
Click on the “request info” button next to the school of your choice to receive more information about specific law enforcement degrees.
Job Duties in Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers can work in many different agencies or departments. Detectives and crime investigators gather evidence and interview people, seeking to find the person responsible for a crime. They also arrest suspects and may have to testify about the case in court.
Jobs within law enforcement include:
Uniformed patrol officer. They patrol sections of a city and respond to emergency calls. They also search for signs of illegal actively while on patrol. Some specialize in certain areas, such as narcotics. Some also work on horseback, on bicycle, with canine patrols or as part of special tactical units.
Sheriff’s deputies. These law enforcement officers do similar duties to a police officer, except they work at the county level rather than the city level. They also often provide service to the courts, acting as bailiffs.
State troopers. These officers enforce the laws at the state level, and are perhaps most visible to the public patrolling interstates and enforcing traffic laws and issuing citations.
Detectives and criminal investigators. These officers investigate crimes and track down suspects, using a variety of techniques and skills from gathering evidence at the scene to interviewing witnesses. Typically, they will specialize in certain crimes – drug trafficking, homicide and fraud, for example.
Federal law enforcement officers. These include agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals and U.S. Border Patrol.
Education for Law Enforcement Officers
Education for law enforcement officers varies depending on the exact nature of the job. Most have high school diplomas and have graduated from the specialized training programs run by most law enforcement agencies, such as a police academy. Larger departments have their own academies, while people from smaller agencies typically attend a regional or state law enforcement academy.
Many agencies now also require some college coursework or even a college degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It’s also advantageous, if working for a federal agency, to be fluent in a foreign language.
Attaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in law enforcement prepares students for the top positions within a department or agency, typically in positions of management and leadership.
Job Outlook in the Field of Law Enforcement
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of jobs in the law enforcement field is expected to grow by 7 percent between 2010 and 2020. They project that jobs at the state and federal level will be more competitive, while local agencies will provide more opportunities for job seekers.
Pay varies depending on location and the exact position. According to the BLS, here are the salaries for various law enforcement careers as of May 2010:
• $68,820 for detectives and criminal investigators
• $54,330 for transit and railroad police
• $53,540 for police and sheriff’s patrol officers
• $49,730 for fish and game wardens