Law enforcement can be described as a system of agencies and individuals that uphold and enforce law, maintain public order and ensure public safety. Without such a system, chaos will reign in the society. Police, FBI, and other agencies are formed to curb crime, terrorism, and penalize criminals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 40,000 police officer job openings are expected in the coming few years. This figure reflects the demand for law enforcement professionals.
Careers in law enforcement come with dangers of its own, but are still regarded as noble professions. If you are interested in making the society a safer place to live, and want to give back to the community, think about pursuing a career in this field.
Law Enforcement Degree Programs
You can start preparing for a career in law enforcement by equipping yourself with a degree in this discipline. Numerous accredited colleges are offering comprehensive law enforcement programs at post-secondary level. Here are a few degree programs available:
Associate Degree in Law Enforcement
This program is designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in the field. It typically takes two years for the program to be completed. Students will undergo a thorough study of fundamental concepts and theories of law enforcement. Each component of the curriculum is equal to a certain number of credit hours that must be earned to complete the degree. Although the curriculum may vary slightly from college to college, students are most likely to study courses such as the following:
- Criminal justice
- Criminal procedure
- Report writing
- Police supervision and management
- Community policing
- Law enforcement
Bachelor Degree in Law Enforcement
This is a comprehensive four year undergraduate program. It is designed to prepare students for leadership or managerial roles, and careers as police officers. A number of states require police officers to have at least a bachelor degree.
The program emphasizes on various facets of the field and will equip students with in-depth knowledge and skills required to excel in the field. Students will gain a detailed understanding of the US criminal justice system, along with the workings of various other law enforcement agencies. Important theories of law and public order are also covered. The curriculum may vary from college to college, but will include courses such as the following:
- Applied criminal investigation
- Law enforcement supervision
- Crime analysis
- Correctional thought and practice
- Research design
- Ethical issues in criminal justice
Master Degree in Law Enforcement
This is a graduate degree that typically takes two years to complete. Students must have a bachelor degree in the same or a similar field to enroll in this program. The program is comprehensively designed to cover advanced theories and research relevant to criminal justice and law enforcement.
During the program, students will learn about the implementation of crime prevention programs, the effectiveness of such programs, and the legal system. The program will also highlight key issues faced by law enforcement agencies and what policing strategies are currently being used. Students will develop strong communication, analytical and critical thinking skills. A few universities have included research and thesis preparation in their curriculum as well. Here are a few courses covered in the degree program:
- Research methodologies
- Forensic psychology
- Policing and corrections
- Terrorism and homeland security
- Criminal investigations
A degree in law enforcement will help students acquire theoretical knowledge and a set of skills that may help them succeed in the professional world. Here are the main learning outcomes of the program:
- Fully understand the fundamental concepts of law enforcement in the society
- Evaluate and understand the measures of policing and corrections
- Understand the criminal justice systems and its procedures
- Conduct research
- Understand the local, state, and federal laws
- Communication skills
- Analytical skills
- Decision making skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Report writing skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Managerial and supervision skills
Lack of time and expensive education are two main factors that are preventing many from attending college. However, colleges offering online programs have helped students overcome these two obstacles. Students can pursue online law enforcement degrees without having to quit their job or any other commitment. This mode of learning is flexible and convenient for working individuals who do not have the time to attend on-campus classes.
An online law enforcement degree may cover the same coursework covered in a traditional degree program. The coursework is conveniently covered via videos, tutorials, and online lectures. Here are some of the benefits that come with online learning:
Flexibility and convenience
No travelling required
How to Enroll?
You can learn about the admission requirements by contacting the school you plan to enroll in. These requirements vary from school to school. However, general admission requirements are usually the same. For example, if you have completed high school and wish to enroll in a bachelor degree, you will need satisfactory grades in certain high school subjects. Other requirements include:
- Meeting a minimum CGPA requirement of 2.0 or 3.0
- Submitting letters of recommendation
- Filling out and submitting an admission form/application
The career opportunities that come with a law enforcement degree are diverse. In addition to field positions, administrative and managerial positions are also available.
Your level of qualification, specialization, skills, and location will play an important role in determining your career prospects. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers made a median annual income of $56,980 in 2012, sheriff patrol officers made $56,130 in 2013, while the correctional officers made $38,970 in 2012.
Apart from working in a police department, you can also pursue career paths in the Homeland Security Department, FBI, and other agencies. Here are a few other job positions you can consider:
- Fraud investigator
- State trooper
- Hospital security officer
- Prosecutor office investigator
- County sheriff deputy
- Criminal investigator
Law enforcement, in short, is a diverse field, which is expanding and employing people of various academic backgrounds. Degrees suitable for a career in this field are offered online as well, making it convenient for many to pursue a career in law enforcement.