Choosing a law enforcement career that’s right for you

Choosing the right law enforcement career is important once you’ve determined that you want to make a go of police work.  There are many questions you should ask yourself when deciding which branch of law enforcement you want to go into.  Don’t assume that all police jobs are the same.  There are many jobs and a variety of different agencies that hire police professionals.  Gather as much information as you can when you’re first starting out, so you can proceed toward your career goals with as much efficiency as possible.

When most people think of a law enforcement career, they think of working for a local police department.  If that’s the route you choose, you’ll start out as a patrol officer, which is an admirable job that involves policing your local community.  You’ll be responding to a variety of emergency situations, from car accidents, to robberies, to assaults and homicides and will be required to keep a cool head in stressful situations. The job also requires community relations work, such as giving talks to civic organizations and schools promoting safety and crime prevention.

Other law enforcement careers within a local police department include criminal investigations detective work.  Depending on the size of the local department, employment opportunities also exist in specialized departments such as computer crimes, forensics, hostage negotiations, SWAT, drug enforcement and more. Within all departments, there are opportunities to advance to supervisory positions and possibly to the top of the law enforcement career food chain, so to speak, to the position of police chief. 

A Law enforcement career at the state level includes many of the same jobs as with local police departments.  State police officers are tasked with law enforcement within an entire state’s boundaries.  There are also law enforcement jobs with the Sheriff’s Department, which is under the jurisdiction of county government. 

The federal government is another source of a rewarding law enforcement career.  Federal law enforcement employers include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshalls and the Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife.

All in all, there are many great opportunities for a rewarding law enforcement career in a wide variety of agencies within the U.S.  If you’re thinking of starting out on a police career, research all of the jobs out there, so you’re sure to choose the right one for you.

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