Law Enforcement Career Information, Job Outlook & Salary

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement Career Overview

Law enforcement professionals like sheriffs and police officers are assigned to maintain order and protect citizens in a given district. The specific job duties vary and include writing crime reports, patrolling an area, investigating crimes and accidents, arresting suspects, and issuing traffic citations. Law enforcement officials work at either the local, state, or federal level, or some patrol in special units, such as harbor patrol or canine corps.

Law Enforcement Education Requirements

A high school diploma is required for most law enforcement work, and some departments require college degrees. While not strictly required, employers encourage candidates to take coursework in law enforcement or administration of justice at the postsecondary level. Community colleges and online degree programs, particularly criminal justice degree programs, offer relevant coursework to give candidates an edge. Those hired for police jobs receive twelve to fourteen weeks of training through the police academy and are eligible for tuition reimbursement as they work toward a degree.

Law Enforcement Employment

Today there are approximately 634,000 police and sheriff's patrol officers, 548,000 of whom work for local law enforcement. Law enforcement careers with a state agency generally pay the most, and California and New York hire the most officers.

Law Enforcement Job Description

Overall employment of law enforcement professionals is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is about average. Job opportunities in local police departments will be excellent for qualified individuals, while State and Federal positions will be more competitive.

Law Enforcement Salary Range

Annual wages for police jobs vary according to location, position, and experience. *Most law enforcement salaries fall within the following ranges:
Bottom 10 percent: $30,070
Top 10 percent: $79,680

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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