A career in the law enforcement or corrections field can be challenging and rewarding for the right individuals; those who are passionate about helping others and devoted to addressing issues pertaining to crime, criminals, and upholding
the law. Those interested in pursuing a career in either law enforcement or as a correctional officer will undergo rigorous training to assure they are both physically and mentally prepared for the demands of these positions. Educational requirements can vary widely between agencies and well as the individual states.
Various Occupations Within the Law Enforcement Field
There are numerous occupations which fall under the classification of law enforcement. Some representative examples include police officers, deputies, constables, and others charged at the local level with upholding a community's laws and regulations. This can be at the local level in a village, town, or city. There are also law enforcement positions at both the state and federal level as well. All police officers will attend a police academy during which they will be taught and drilled in the skills, both tactical and strategic, required of the particular law enforcement agency. Most local agencies have educational requirements and residency requirements which range from a high school diploma to a college degree. More departments and agencies, particularly at the state and federal level, or those in larger cities, are leaning toward college credits, if not a degree, for applicants into their academies. Those seeking entry into the field of law enforcement will also be of sound moral and psychological character, able to meet set requirements for physical health and agility, and pass testing to include academic material as well as psychological examinations. Most agencies require that law enforcement applicants also be citizens of the United States.
Other law enforcement personnel at the local level include probation officers, dispatch and administrative personnel, crime scene investigators, correctional officers, laboratory analysts, forensic specialists, and many others. Each of these career paths will include law enforcement training to varying degrees, as well as specialized training as dictated by the particular position and agency.
Median Pay Rates and Job Outlook
The outlook for law enforcement personnel overall remains steady. The field is expected to grow through at least 2018 based upon the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics' research and data.
Salaries will range, depending on the agency, level of education, and particular occupation. For instance, becoming a correctioinal officer working within the prison, jail, or other detention systems offers an approximate hourly wage of nearly $19 per hour (based upon 2010 figures). Typically this occupation requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Median hourly pay for police officers was reported at $26.45 per hour as of 2010. A forensic science technician's median pay as of 2010 was $24.79 per hour as of 2010, and requires a bachelor's degree.
Choosing a Career in Law Enforcement
When considering a career in occupation within the law enforcement field, determining the specific requirements of given agencies is critical as these do vary widely. Obtaining a college degree is always a safe bet, and the student's focus should be on criminal justice, law enforcement, or even pre-law courses.