POLICE EMPLOYMENT

Law Enforcement: Three Jobs in Detail

 |  March 17, 2009
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Looking for a career in law enforcement, but you aren't sure where you'd fit? Finding the perfect fit with a career is tough, and police and law enforcement jobs are no exception. Here's a line-up:

Forensic Scientist
Crime scene investigation is a detail oriented job. You can't just give the room a once-over and be done with it. A forensic scientist needs to be able to piece together the who, what, where, when, and how of a crime using physical evidence, which means that critical thinking skills are a must. If you've got a scientific mind and pay close attention to detail, this could be the career path for you.

    • Education and Training: High school diplomas are required, but educational requirements vary above that. Some departments require a bachelor's degree, while others require only some college coursework. Criminal justice, police science, public administration, and related degrees are helpful for getting hired and can only positively affect pay. Knowledge of foreign languages is another plus. Most states require an additional 12 to 14 weeks of training once hired for a position.

  • What It Pays: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that starting salaries are typically more than $27,000 annually. The most experienced--typically in supervisory positions--take home over $100,000 yearly.


Trooper or Police Officer
How dependable are you? Citizens rely on police officers and troopers to protect their safety, their property, and their society. This isn't a job that stops; you're expected to exercise authority, serve, and protect whether you're on duty or not. State troopers are more often found patrolling the roads, in addition to their other duties. This is a demanding--though rewarding--career. If you want to be the first one that your community turns to in times of emergency, this law enforcement career could be right for you.

  • Education and Training: High school diplomas are required, but educational requirements vary above that. Some departments require a bachelor's degree, while others require only some college coursework. Criminal justice, police science, public administration, and related degrees are helpful for getting hired and can only positively affect pay. Knowledge of foreign languages is another plus. Most states require an additional 12 to 14 weeks of training once hired for a position.
  • What It Pays: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that starting salaries are typically more than $27,000 annually. The most experienced--typically in supervisory positions--take home over $100,000 yearly.


Special Agents
Only the best need apply. Tough mental and physical standards must be met to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.) A special agent may be involved in a great number of different activities for work, including: conducting surveillance, monitoring court-authorized wiretaps, examining business records, participating in sensitive undercover assignments, and investigating a wide range of criminal activity, from white-collar crime to terrorism.

  • Education and training: Special agents, without exception, need a bachelor's degree. The FBI requires three years of professional, related experience or an advanced degree on top of that. Specializations in political science, foreign affairs, forensic science, or selected engineering fields are very useful. Special agents must submit to extensive training once hired--18 weeks for new FBI agents.
  • What It Pays: Agents typically start at around $60,000 a year, but sometimes push six-figure incomes after a few years of service.


Other Law Enforcement and Police Jobs
From working as a corrections officer to working with the vast homeland security network, there are plenty of other careers to choose from. Take your time selecting the right path, and you may start on your way to a rewarding and demanding career serving your country and fellow citizens.

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About the Author
Karl Fendelander is a freelance writer and editor living in Reno, NV. He holds a degree in writing, which complements an eclectic work and education history. A lover of the outdoors, Karl can often be found hiking and climbing around the West.

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