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Public Safety & Emergency Management Degrees Online

Those who work in public safety have the goal of protecting the public from crime, both against themselves and their property. Jobs within the field include patrol officers, detectives, paramedics, state troopers and border patrol. Others work as special agents with the United States government in agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations or the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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Work Environment for Public Safety Workers

Where you work in public safety depends largely on which specific job you decide to pursue. Police officers and detectives spend most of their time in the field, tracking down criminals or patrolling, looking for criminal activity.

Emergency management personnel are the first to arrive at the scene of a natural or manmade disaster, aiding victims and giving them on-the-scene medical treatment (in the case of paramedics and EMTs).

Federal special agents work to track down criminals in specific areas, such as narcotics or weapons trafficking.

Education for Public Safety Workers

Education for public safety workers depends on the details of the job. Typically, public safety workers earn at least a high school diploma and have graduated from the specialized training programs run by most law enforcement agencies, such as a police academy.

Paramedics and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) must graduate from a specific training program, and all require certification.

Some agencies require 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 public safety prepares students for the top positions within a department or agency, such as police chief, sheriff or director of emergency management.

Jobs in Public Safety

Public safety includes many different kinds of jobs. Some of them include:

Paramedic or EMT. People’s lives often depend upon the actions of paramedics and EMTs. They are the first to arrive at the scene of disasters or accidents, and are charged with administering medical services to victims at the scene.

Uniformed patrol officer. They patrol – in cars or on bicycle, horseback and foot – and respond to emergency calls. They also search for signs of illegal activity.

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, enforcing traffic laws and issuing citations.

Detectives. 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 agents. These include agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, Federal Air Marshals and U.S. Border Patrol.

Job Outlook in the Field of Public Safety

The BLS projects that the number of jobs in public safety is expected to grow 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:

  • $30,360 for paramedics and EMTS
  • $68,820 for detectives
  • $54,330 for transit and railroad police
  • $53,540 for police and sheriff’s patrol officers

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