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Police officers serve their communities by protecting people and property. Job responsibilities vary by position and employer, but law enforcement officers typically respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, keeping detailed incident records. Daily activities include testifying in court, collecting criminal evidence and arresting suspects.
How To Become A Police Officer After The Military
There are a variety of police jobs, including detective and criminal investigators, fish and game wardens, and transit and rail police. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of law enforcement officers to grow as fast as any other occupation, at a rate of 5% from 2018-2028. According to the BLS, police officers and detectives also earn the highest salaries on average, earning a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2019.
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Read on to learn more about law enforcement jobs, how to become a police officer, police officer training, salary benefits and career outcomes.
Police officers perform a variety of duties, including keeping residents safe, keeping detailed records, and testifying against criminals in court. Common law enforcement duties include patrolling designated areas, conducting traffic stops, monitoring suspicious activity, making arrests and preparing cases.
Duties and daily tasks vary with the type of police officer. Police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers, the most common types of officers, wear uniforms and conduct regular patrols. They also capture, search, and track signs of criminal activity in their communities.
Fish and game wardens, on the other hand, educate the public about laws, patrol hunting and fishing areas, and conduct search and rescue operations. Transit and rail police protect train and rail passengers from crimes such as assaults and robberies. Sometimes called agents or detectives, criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence of a crime. Detectives usually specialize in a particular type of crime, such as murder or financial crime.
Who Will Risk Becoming A Cop?
Unlike other professionals, most police officers carry arrest and defense equipment such as rifles or grenades. They regularly work at crime and accident scenes. Certain types of officers — such as those in the US Secret Service or the FBI — may require travel or deployment. Border agents and environmental police work outdoors in physically challenging terrain and weather conditions.
Law enforcement careers usually require on-the-job training. After graduating from the training academy, police officers usually conduct trials under the supervision of a higher-ranking officer. During this trial period, inexperienced officers learn how to apply the techniques in the real world.
After probation, officers are eligible for promotion. To become a corporal, sergeant, lieutenant or captain, applicants must pass a written test in addition to on-the-job training. In major departments, candidates may qualify for detective positions or specific areas of crime, such as homicide or juvenile delinquency.
Students can also receive on-the-job training while pursuing a criminal justice degree. Many colleges and universities offer (and sometimes require) internships for law enforcement students. Students can also apply for internships with local police departments, giving students the opportunity to network with experienced police officers and gain first-hand experience in protecting local communities.
Becoming A Police Officer
Paid internships are also available with the CIA, FBI, and Federal Bureau of Prisons. The US Treasury Department also provides internships for students interested in learning about financial crimes. These internships can also help degree candidates gain the skills they need and stand out among job candidates when they enter the workforce.
Additional skills, such as physical strength and endurance, can help candidates meet the requirements of a police officer. To keep up with the daily demands of the job, arresting suspects and passing the physical tests required to enter the field, police officers and detectives must maintain good physical shape and demonstrate strength. Employers consider prior military or security experience a plus, as these candidates have prior physical and firearms training.
In addition, police officers must have good written and oral communication skills to effectively prepare detailed incident reports and communicate with the public while gathering facts. Law enforcement agencies can also communicate with suspects who speak other languages. To help diverse communities, officials must understand and empathize with many different perspectives. Law enforcement agencies must also exercise good judgment in determining the most effective way to address a problem.
Officers in higher positions, such as detectives and fish and game wardens, may need critical thinking skills and understanding to anticipate why suspects are acting in certain ways. As people seek help from officers in emergency situations, these professionals become more visible members of the community. In their public roles, officials often act as role models and must possess leadership skills.
How To Become A Police Officer
Police officer salaries vary based on many factors, including job type, location, and additional compensation and benefits. Some police departments even offer higher salaries for officers with higher education and who speak multiple languages.
According to the BLS, the lowest-paid police officers earned less than $37,710, while the highest-paid police officers earned more than $109,620 in 2019. Police officers often earn extra pay through overtime and special assignments.
In this regard, individuals can increase their wages through education and work experience. According to the BLS, detectives and federal agents earn the most of all police officers, earning a median annual salary of $83,170 in 2019. Aspiring federal police officers and detectives usually must have a college degree and prior work experience.
As the need for public safety continues, BLS projects police hiring at the pace of other professions. Demand for police officers varies by location and state and local budgets. Due to the shortage of jobs, police applicants may face competition. Candidates with a college degree, law enforcement or military experience, and knowledge of other languages may stand out among job candidates.
How To Become A Police Detective
According to the BLS, police officers and detectives earn an average hourly wage of $31.33. However, law enforcement officers receive other compensation and benefits, including uniform allowances and extra pay for providing security at special events. Officers with college degrees or who speak other languages may also receive additional pay. Police officers typically retire younger than other professionals, giving them the opportunity to retire early and pursue other careers.
I am not yet 21 years old. Is there anything to prepare for a career in law enforcement?
Candidates who do not meet the officer age requirements can participate in cadet programs in specific police departments. Cadets can attend classes and perform service work until they qualify for the position. Cadet programs also provide students with networking and on-the-job training opportunities. Cadet applicants may be required to complete interviews and criminal background checks, pass lie detector and drug tests, and meet physical requirements.
Because law enforcement agents must protect the public at all times, officers often work nights, weekends, and holidays. Experienced officers and senior officers, such as detectives, usually get the best shifts, leaving rookies to work nights and weekends. However, law enforcement officers are usually paid overtime, which means either half-time or double pay. Some police unions offer different rules for overtime and night, weekend and holiday work. Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may receive commissions paid for editorially selected products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
What Should I Major In To Become A Police Officer?
If the idea of serving and protecting the public appeals to you, becoming a police officer is a good choice. Police officers are first responders who often put their own safety at risk when an emergency occurs. You will be called upon to enforce the law, catch criminals, maintain order and help people in emergency situations. The training required to become a police officer depends in part on where you live.
Most local police forces require officer candidates to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some require a certain amount of post-secondary education. For example, the Memphis Police Department requires applicants to have an associate’s degree or at least 54 semester hours of college, although the education requirement is waived for applicants with at least two years of military service with honors. discharged with
Being hired as a police officer is not as simple as filling out an application and interviewing with the human resources department. The application process can be difficult and time-consuming. For example, the process at the Philadelphia Police Department includes an application, reading test, physical fitness test, drug screen, background check, and medical and psychological evaluations before being accepted into the training program. The San Diego Police Department requires applicants to submit a completed application. After you submit your application, the San Diego City Testing Center processes it within 7 to 10 days. Only after the application is processed, the candidate will be allowed to take the city written test. The SDPD recruitment process generally takes about three to four months.
Each state’s Peace Officer Training and Standards Commission or equivalent agency sets the level of training required to become a police officer in that state. Applicants who make it through the recruitment process usually must graduate from their local police academy before becoming full-fledged police officers. Academy training includes weapons classes,
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