Police officer careers are in high demand and will continue to be for years to come. There are many police officer jobs in the law enforcement career field, thus an opportunity for a life of adventure.
People depend on police officers to protect their lives and property. Law enforcement officers carry out these duties in a variety of ways depending on the size and type of their organization. Police officers pursue and arrest individuals who break the law and then issue citations or give warnings. The majority of police officers patrol their jurisdictions and investigate any questionable events they observe. In most jurisdictions, they are expected to exercise authority when necessary, whether on or off duty.
The day-to-day activities of police personnel varies depending on their professional area of expertise – such as police officer, detective, or game warden – and whether they are employed at a local, State, or Federal level. Duties also differ considerably among various Federal agencies, which enforce different aspects of the law. Regardless of job duties or location, officers at all ranks are required to write reports and maintain precise records that will be needed if they testify in court.
Police Officer Requirements
Most police officers must be U.S. citizens (born or naturalized). To start a police officer career, a person must pass a written test, a physical exam, and be at least a high school graduate – see Education and Training below for more info.
Education and Training
Many police departments require only a high school diploma for one to be eligible for a police officer position. However, there are numerous agencies that require at least an Associate degree or a college credit equivalent. Some metropolitan departments require a minimum of a Bachelor degree. Most state and federal law enforcement agencies will only accept police officer candidates that have a 4-year degree or a combination of significant job experience and education.
Police officer training is for the most part provided through state certification programs and/or police academies. Law enforcement certification programs and academy sessions usually last several months. Police career hopefuls that need to attend an academy may be required to stay on academy grounds at all times throughout training, with exception of weekends. This is dependent on the agency in question, but in most cases, a police recruit will spend about 8 hours on weekdays at the academy and is free to go home at the end of the day.
Training includes classroom instruction in constitutional law and civil rights, State laws and local ordinances, and accident investigation. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in patrol, traffic control, the use of firearms, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response.
It is highly recommended that police officers continually upgrade their education, especially those with little or no college education. As time on the force goes by, opportunities for advancement are often granted to those that invested in their self-development through agency sponsored training, certificate programs, and completion of Bachelor level or even advanced degrees. Police officer salaries are often gauged on the amount of training and formal education an individual possesses. Take advantage of the fact that many agencies pay all or part of the tuition for officers to work toward degrees in criminal justice, police science, administration of justice, public administration, criminology, and others.
Police Officer Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and sheriff’s patrol officers had median annual earnings of $47,460 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,600 and $59,880. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,450. Median annual earnings were $47,190 in local government, $52,540 in State government, and $43,510 in Federal Government.
The salary information will be updated here with a new release of salary statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so don’t worry about years of difference – it’s just a formality. Salaries for the current year are not that far off, but for the most accurate information call or visit the agency in question. Many police departments offer salary, benefit, and hiring info right on their website.
Police officers have many criminal justice career opportunities that can be obtained through tenure, training, and education. Some of the police jobs include: Detective, Crime Scene Investigator, Community Liaison Officer, Narcotics Officer, and SWAT Officer.
Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.