4 Signs You Should Pursue a Career in Law Enforcement
Not all jobs let you live and work in service, but the few that do are often the most fulfilling. If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, you’re likely deeply committed to justice and protecting the people and systems that uphold law and order in our society. As you begin to consider your future – and the online programs that can help get you there – it could be time to consider a career in law enforcement, how to get there, and where it can take you.
1. You’re invested in your community and the public safety of the people in it
A career in law enforcement is a future in the service of others. It’s a commitment to justice and serving the greater good. It’s a vow to protect those around you and to gain the skills, law enforcement training, and expertise to effectively do that. Day in and day out, communities trust law enforcement officers to help maintain the law, fight crime, and protect the ideals of justice that this country was founded upon. While law enforcement jobs can often be stressful and potentially dangerous, they’re also incredibly rewarding because they touch so many lives.
Many people who work in law enforcement are able to leverage their natural skills in communication, empathy, and awareness to protect their communities. That, coupled with training they gain through a criminal justice or other degree program, can prepare them for careers from police officers to detectives, prosecutors, agents, administrators, and beyond.
2. You’re interested in working for certain law enforcement agencies
Types of law enforcement agencies can vary quite a bit, each with their own focus and jurisdiction. It may be helpful to decide at what level you’d like to work as you begin to chart your career in law enforcement. While some people are most interested in helping their immediate community or county, others would prefer to work with a broader audience at the state or federal level. Examples of federal agencies, which you may be familiar with, include:
United States Department of State: The U.S. State Department manages American diplomacy, advocacy, and safety on an international stage. Law enforcement jobs within this agency include diplomatic security and various agent positions involved in the protection of Americans abroad.
United States Department of Justice: The DOJ handles law enforcement at the federal level – this includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshal Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Department of Homeland Security: DHS is home to many of the best-known federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Secret Service (USSS), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
On the state level, you can work in law enforcement by joining your state’s police force, highway patrol, or patrol officers. Even more locally, opportunities may exist in private security, as a detective, or sheriffs.
3. You’re interested in any of the following careers
Studying crimes and the systems in place to prevent them can lead you down a number of career paths. Some law enforcement careers (like paralegals and prosecutors) are more focused on upholding the law; others (like police officers or probation officers) are focused on reacting to those who break the law. There are those who work in the immediate aftermath of a crime (think crime scene investigators, detectives, and the like) and others who work in more preventative roles, like security guards.
Other potential jobs in the field include: Border Patrol Agent, CIA Agent, Corrections Officer, FBI Agent, Police Officer, State Trooper, Private Detective, Probation Officer, Crime Scene Investigator, TSA Agent, Immigration/Customs Agent, Court Bailiff, Fraud Investigator, or Emergency Dispatcher. While these careers touch every corner of the law enforcement space, they are all one piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping our citizens and communities safe from crime, threats, and harm.
4. You already have a criminal justice or criminology degree
If you’ve studied criminal justice or criminology (or if you’re considering starting!), you’re uniquely positioned to use your background and expertise to make a difference in the field of law enforcement.
Criminal Justice, a field also available through UTEP Connect, is the study of the systems that society has built in reaction to crime. Students of this discipline learn about the many arms of the criminal justice system, how they are able to enforce laws, and how they work to prevent someone breaking them.
Criminology, however, is not quite the same. The suffix “-ology” means “the study of,” so this is the study of crime. With this type of degree, students can gain an in-depth understanding of what causes people to commit crimes, when they’re most likely to take place, and the circumstances that make crime.
Either of these degrees can help students better understand the state and psychology of crime and thus contribute to fighting it on a variety of levels throughout their careers.
If you are ready to begin your professional journey in law enforcement, consider earning the degree that can help you get started. The University of Texas at El Paso offers a competitive, 100%-online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Reach out and an enrollment counselor will contact you directly to address any questions you may have.