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Law Enforcement Career Guide

When considering a career path, there are several important factors that most people take into consideration. This typically includes the types of jobs that are available and the occupational outlook for these jobs. Unfortunately, what is considered a stable occupation today, may not be stable in the future. There are however, certain occupations, such as careers in law enforcement, that will always have job opportunities available. This is particularly true for people who have obtained a criminal justice degree.

What are Law Enforcement Careers

Most often, when people think of careers in law enforcement, they think of police officers or sheriff’s deputies. While these jobs make up a large part of law enforcement, a broad spectrum of careers also fall under this category. The simplest way to understand what law enforcement jobs are is to define what law enforcement is. In general terms this is defined as the ensuring of obedience to the law. Therefore, any career that has to do with ensuring society’s obedience to the law can be considered a career in law enforcement. Law enforcement careers may also fall under the yoke of criminal justice jobs. Criminal justice covers everything from how criminals are investigated, to arrests, trials and punishment.

Criminal Justice Jobs

People who are entering law enforcement have many career opportunities to choose from depending on what their personal interests are. For people who are interested in the ‘”enforcement” aspects of criminal justice, they may wish to pursue a career as a police officer, detective or a fraud investigator. On a government level, a person may consider a career as a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent or as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent. Other criminal justice jobs include but are not limited to, probation officer, crime scene investigator, paralegal, legal secretary, and crime scene analyst.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements tend to vary depending on the career path that one chooses. Certain law enforcement jobs, such as a security officer, may not require any special type of degree. For other careers, a criminal justice degree may be necessary or it may provide an advantage. Parole officers, for example, often need a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree is also beneficial for FBI agents while police detectives may find that having a degree can earn them a higher salary and secure opportunities for advancement.

Salary Potential

Salary range is another area of consideration when evaluating law enforcement careers. The amount that a person can make annually depends on several factors, such as the career itself and whether or not the individual holds a criminal justice degree or any form of degree. On the higher end of the salary scale, the median salary for a FBI agent is approximately $114,000 annually. The median salary for police detectives or criminal investigators is approximately $64,900 and for parole officers it is $50,000. On the other hand, the median annual salary for a loss prevention agent is roughly $29,300 and a security guard $28,521, depending on where the security position is.

Job Outlook and Need

For most jobs in law enforcement, the outlook is a favorable one. In many cases, these types of jobs are expected to grow as fast as, or faster than, average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the outlook for criminal investigators and detectives is on track for a 17 percent increase from the ten-year time period that started in 2008 and is expected to continue through 2018. In some areas of law enforcement, job opportunities may be better than favorable. People who become probation officers can expect excellent job opportunities. Regardless of the career path, the need for qualified individuals is important for the continued safety of the public, on a local, state and even country-wide level. Having a criminal justice degree is a crucial component of being seen as a qualified candidate for law enforcement careers. This need is particularly magnified when considering the role careers in law enforcement play in Homeland Security, as well as America’s fight against drug abuse.