Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation

To protect and to serve.

It is a motto often associated with law enforcement professionals who are tasked with putting their lives on the line every day in order to protect the general population.

In 1955, it was Los Angeles Police Officer Joseph Dorobek who coined the term, which later went on to become the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department. Today, it is widely used any time the requirements of being a police officer are referenced.

Among the most recognizable jobs in the criminal justice field are those of law enforcement officers. They are the first line of defense against the criminals who would seek to cause harm to others in the commission of a crime.

Education Requirements

Most police officers attend the police academy within their state of residence in order to be qualified to work in the field. However, due to tough competition for jobs in the law enforcement profession, those interested in making the cut are encouraged to complete a degree program offered through an institution of higher learning.

Associate degrees in law enforcement are offered both online and in traditional settings. Coursework should focus on providing an overview of the U.S. criminal justice system, as well as criminology, criminal investigation techniques, domestic and international terrorism, counter-terrorism and criminal law.

Bachelor degree programs take four years to complete and focus on the areas of correction, crime scene investigation protocol and techniques, juvenile crime and corrections, forensic pathology and homeland security.

Master degree programs are available but not required to work in the majority of careers within law enforcement. Candidates who wish to work for the federal government in a law-enforcement capacity, or who wish to teach law enforcement in the academy or at a university, will require this advanced degree. Coursework will include criminal behavior in various cultures and social deviance, as well as managerial skills.

Future Outlook

Demand for trained law enforcement personnel is expected to increase by 7 percent between now and 2020, according to information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Competition for law enforcement positions – especially those at the state or federal levels – is expected to be fierce. Candidates who possess the highest level of education will have an edge when contending for open positions within the field.

Average annual wages for law enforcement officers is $55,010. Detectives and criminal investigators can expect to earn higher wages at $68,000.

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