Law enforcement careers range from entry-level clerical positions and investigative-type jobs to supervisory and leadership roles. Each type of job in law enforcement has specific age, education, and experience requirements.
There is a variety of law enforcement and criminal justice study programs available, ranging from certificate-level programs to associate and undergraduate degree programs to specialized graduate-level studies. As with many jobs, law enforcement careers include on-the-job training, regular salary increases, good benefits, and opportunities for career advancement. The variety of jobs from which to choose makes law enforcement an attractive career option.
Another of the advantages of a law enforcement career is the level of job security involved. To say law enforcement and criminal justice careers can be fulfilling is probably an understatement. Every job has its disadvantages, but the negative attributes of law enforcement jobs have probably persuaded more than one potential recruit to change career paths. In spite of the dangers and demands of the job, the salaries of law enforcement officials can differ greatly from one geographic area to another. Work schedules can be hard on junior officers, whose shift work frequently requires them to work on weekends, holidays, and nights. As a result of the dangers and demands in law enforcement jobs, statistics point to high divorce rates, high levels of alcoholism, and sadly, high rates of suicide among police officers.
The City of Chicago continues to use every tool at its disposal to make the streets, sidewalks, schools and parks safe for all residents. Increase crime fighting efforts in high crime areas by purchasing vehicles to replace an aging fleet, purchasing in-car cameras for police vehicles to increase the safety of the officers and the public, and adding additional resources in high crime areas over time. It’s a good time to note that the federal government has quite a few law enforcement positions for those interested in such work.
FBI Police—The FBI maintains its own uniformed police force to protect personnel, facilities and information. CIA and others—The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency and others have their own police officers. Department of Veteran Affairs Police—The VA has more than 153 police units around the country and operates under the Office of Security and Law Enforcement. Some features of our website may not display properly on your version of Internet Explorer 8.
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At the local and state levels, the most common law enforcement jobs are patrol officer, police detective, state trooper, corrections officer, probation officer, and law enforcement officer. With advances in science and technology, law enforcement has become complex and specialized. Educational institutions have recognized the demand for law enforcement programs; today many accredited schools and colleges have implemented degree programs in criminal justice and law enforcement. Skilled law enforcement professionals face and address the dangers of their jobs appropriately and safely, thanks to the extensive training they receive.
For someone who wishes to work at the local government level, law enforcement career options include municipal police officer, private security guard, and corrections officer positions. Although it is unfortunate that crime and security concerns persist in the United States, these issues, combined with increases in our population, generate consistent demand for competent, qualified police officers. Although a police officer can be required to rotate among three eight-hour shifts, many police forces work 12-hour shifts where union and local laws permit.


Federal law enforcement employees receive special salary rates, and because of the overtime hours they are expected to work, some receive law enforcement availability pay (LEAP), equal to 25 percent of the employee's salary grade.
A person who enters law enforcement does so because of the opportunities available for an interesting, meaningful career that allows the individual to be in a position to protect, help, and serve the public. The dangers, stress, and emotional demands are many, and anyone considering entering a career in law enforcement should think them through very carefully. In fact, police officers and detectives have very high rates of illness and on-the-job injuries.
A police officer must be able to handle immediate and dramatic environmental changes in that the officer must be prepared to transition from a completely calm situation one minute to one of high activity, stress, and danger the next. Officers who work in a potentially dangerous location such as a large, crime-ridden city, will earn more than those who work in small, rural towns. Anyone considering a career in law enforcement should be made fully aware of the negative attributes of these jobs before deciding to enter the field. As with all major Cities, targeted efforts to decrease criminal incidents and vulnerabilities are critical challenges. Provide public safety personnel with supplementary tools to increase public safety and preparedness efforts.
Last March we recognized the start of many new academy classes and especially in parts of the country that had held back hiring due the volatile budget and economy in general.
Pentagon Police—The Pentagon is a city by itself, and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pentagon Police safeguard it. In addition to shielding facilities from general crime, its law enforcement unit’s mission is to deter terrorist attacks with a visible and well-trained police force. The ultimate goal of law enforcement careers is the protection, safety, and security of people and property. Law enforcement careers at the federal level include careers as FBI and Secret Service agents, Border Patrol agents, and Customs officials.
In the past, a high school diploma was the only educational requirement needed for anyone interested in entering a police academy to train to become a police officer. Trade or career-oriented schools, as well as community colleges, offer programs that help students obtain certificates and degrees to get them started in a variety of law enforcement careers. By effectively handling situations in their roles to protect and serve, many in law enforcement also find their chosen careers challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding.
State-level law enforcement jobs include positions as state troopers and as highway patrol officers.
Scheduling for 12-hour shifts allows for a three-day weekend every other weekend, which contributes to an increase in employee morale. Local and state police frequently earn more than their stated salary, also as a result of overtime worked.
Although the risks and dangers of the job can be high, the challenges presented, the teamwork, and the sense of accomplishment can be very rewarding.
By their very nature, law enforcement jobs entail involvement with crime and criminals, responding to calls, and investigating suspicious activity. For example, the crime rate is very high in Los Angeles, California, so police officers there receive the highest salaries.
Some federal agents, for example special agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or those in the U.S. In the years to come, gathering intelligence and monitoring criminal activity will continue to be crucial for the rapid detection and potential prevention of incidents and crime patterns. In June we highlighted diversity in training and of impact military veterans entering the workplace.


Park Police is a unit of the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, with jurisdiction in all National Park Service areas and certain other federal and state lands. Law enforcement occurs at local, city or county levels, at state levels, and at the national or federal level.
Today, however, most law enforcement careers require post-secondary training and education, as well as a specific amount of professional job experience. Four-year colleges and universities have programs for both undergraduate (bachelor's) and graduate (master's and doctorate) degrees. Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided information indicating that there will be approximately 100,000 police officers employed in the United States by the year 2016.
Most police departments provide their officers with a special allowance for their uniforms. In contrast, police officers in rural North Carolina earn less than half the salary of their California counterparts. Secret Service, must travel extensively, often on short notice, in the course of performing their job duties. Continuing to strengthen partnerships between city departments, particularly Police, Fire, and Office of Emergency Management and Communications, and local, state, and Federal partners is also critical to the City’s ongoing public safety strategy. Law enforcement careers include jobs that monitor the actions of others and make arrests in order to enforce laws. Federal investigative-type jobs are performed within the federal agencies that enforce United States Code, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Many police officers retire at half-pay after completing 20 years of service; this relatively early retirement allows these individuals to go on to pursue second careers if they wish and is one of the strongest advantages of a law enforcement career. They face possible death by automobile due to the amount of time they spend in their police cars, whether on routine patrol duty, responding to a call, or conducting a high-speed chase.
This emotional constraint requires tremendous mental stamina and energy, which can eventually drain the officer physically to the point that the officer withdraws from social and family life.
In some locations the average starting pay for a rookie police officer is below $25,000 per year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is helping Chicago protect the City’s quality of life by adding new resources for preventing and controlling crime and supporting community capacity. They also include jobs that investigate violations of the law and maintain investigative and arrest reports. Uniformed jobs, such as those in the Secret Service or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are those that provide for the safety and security of government officials, federal buildings, and land. They have generous pension plans that allow them to retire in their forties if they so choose. Further, police officers are responsible for directing traffic and working alongside roadways during traffic stops, all of which contribute to an increased risk of death by automobile accident. All of these schedule requirements upset the routines that are needed for healthy marriages and family growth and development. And although local budgets dictate the number of police positions available in a given municipality, any officer who is laid off can immediately apply for work in another agency.



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