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Law Enforcement Careers

By Edited Dec 4, 2013 2 5

There are many different law enforcement careers for you to choose from. Some of the jobs will be a little easier to land than others. Some of the jobs will have more strict educational requirement. Some pay better than others. Most of them, however, pay fairly well and have good benefits, including retirement plans. You are thinking about law enforcement careers, here are a few of the options you have, and what you can expect.

ROAD OFFICER OR DEPUTY:

You can become a police officer, it's just one of the law enforcement careers out there to choose from. If you don't already know, a police officer works for a city, while a deputy works for a county. Jurisdiction used to be a big deal, but the laws have changed, making it easier for deputies and police officers to venture out of their jurisdiction for various reasons.

Each state has different educational requirements to become a police officer or deputy. Most, however, will require at least some college, and the completion of a police academy. The length of time will vary greatly for each state's academy, but most of them are run about the same. They are ran in a paramilitary fashion, meaning they are roughly similar to a boot camp. Law enforcement careers will require some hard work, especially during the academies.

JAIL OR PRISON GUARD:

This is one of less glamorous law enforcement careers, but it's certainly no less important. In most areas, jail guards are paid less than the road officers, but still make a decent wage. Many looking to become a police officer will use jail guard experience to improve their odds of moving onto the road. There are plenty of other people, including myself, that have decided to stay in the jail setting. The schedule is typically more set than the road officers. It's one of the more structured law enforcement careers for this reason.

To become a jail or prison guard, you may not need any criminal justice education beyond high school. Most states will require you to complete a jail guard in-service class within six months of being hired. If you are considering this as one of your chosen law enforcement careers, you may want to get an education first. While it may not be required in some states, it will only help your chances. The counties that hire you cannot loosen the guidelines and minimum requirements for becoming a jail guard, but they can make them more strict. This means they can require more education than the state.

PROBATION AND PAROLE:

Law enforcement careers in probation and parole will generally require more experience than others. Many agencies will require at least 5 years of verifiable criminal justice experience in anther field, like the jail or road officer setting. Of course, this will vary greatly by sate. Educational requirements are a little more strict in most states. You will generally need to have a degree in some form of criminal justice.

Law enforcement careers in probation and parole are a little different than the rest of them, because they deal with people at their homes, after they have been convicted of a crime. Yes, the probation and parole officers out there do make house calls to check up on their clients. The hours are generally more structured, with many agent working Monday through Friday during business hours only.

INVESTIGATORS:

There are many types of criminal justice investigators. It's one of the more open law enforcement careers you can aim for. You may end up being a death investigator, and drug investigator, or in larger department, a homicide investigator. There are many of investigator positions out there as well.

To become any sort of investigator you will typically need to have additional criminal justice education and training, even if it's not specifically required by the department. The hours will vary greatly depending on the individual department you work for. In addition to criminal justice education, you will also likely need several years of experience on the road to qualify for one of these law enforcement careers.

DISPATCHERS:

These law enforcement careers are a little different than most. In many cases, they require no face to face contact with people. They are a very important part of the criminal justice system. You can become a 911 operator in your area.

In most areas, dispatchers are underpaid. The work they do is very important in ensuring the safety of the citizen and officers in the area. Most are not required to have education beyond high school, but there are typically training standards in place.

ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS:

Law enforcement careers have upward mobility, meaning you can move up the ladder, to a higher position. You will find that many Sergeants and Lieutenants started out in a jail setting or as a road officer. Criminal justice jobs are just like many others, they have different levels of leaders, so to speak. The ranks tend to mimic that of the military. What are some of the administrative law enforcement careers?

Chief of police: You will find that these types of law enforcement careers will require a lot of experience, in most cases. These criminal justice positions are reserved for those that have excelled in certain areas. You will get better pay and hours, but bigger problems from time to time.

Sheriff: Interestingly enough, most states have no minimum educational requirement to become sheriff. The position is fairly unusual as it is typically filled from an election, with only a few exceptions. The pay is a little more than your ordinary road officer makes, but it comes with great responsibility.

Chief Deputy: This is basically the sheriff's right hand man or woman. They are number two in command. There is less responsibility than the sheriff, but more than your typical road officer.

Jail Administrator: You will typically not need any education beyond high school, but you'll have a hard time landing the position if don't. Jail administrators run the jail of the county, and are overseen by the sheriff. As you would expect the pay is much better than your average jail guard, but again, there is much more responsibility.

As you can see, there are several law enforcement careers to choose from. While some may not require a criminal justice degree, you would be well served to get one. Having additional education in criminal justice will only help you find a job. In addition, you will have more upward mobility, so you can move up the ladder if you choose to do so. Law enforcement careers are a great path to choose. Good luck on your job hunt.

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Comments

Nov 18, 2009 5:54pm
gourownway
Great overview of jobs. I will say this, most prison gaurds prefer to be called Correctional Officers now days, and in some states like California they make more then some police officers.
Nov 19, 2009 2:02am
jcmayer777
It’s never bothered me to be called a jailer, or jail guard, but some of my colleagues do prefer to be called corrections officers.
Nov 19, 2009 11:09am
gourownway
Its was a big thing in Illinois and out her in California. My sister is retired from the DOC and all of her friends correct people. Some idiot in my academy called correctional officers turnkeys, and we ran for days!
Feb 24, 2010 4:14pm
sound_foundation
Nice article! My sister is a guard at a city jail here in Kentucky. She loves it. If I could fix the 'Administrative Postions' typo for ya I would! :-)
Feb 24, 2010 4:23pm
jcmayer777
Thanks for the catch on the typo!!
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