Law Enforcement Careers

Law Enforcement Careers

From sheriffs to police officers, private investigators to customs agents, there are myriad ways to protect and serve your community and country. Like any job, law enforcement careers require different levels of education and training.

Police Officer

A police officer or sheriff is required to have at least a high school diploma. Many sheriffs and police officers also have a two-year associate level or four-year bachelor degree. While not usually required, having a degree can help cadets differentiate themselves from the pack, and can also help with promotions. Popular fields of study for sheriffs and police include administration of justice, criminal justice and police science degrees.

Besides having the right training and education, police and sheriffs are required to pass physical tests and weapons training so that they have the required stamina, strength and agility necessary for law enforcement.

Before becoming a cop or a sheriff, new cadets typically complete 12 to 14 weeks of intense training at a police academy. The academy also instructs officers in constitutional law, civic rights, accident investigation as well as self-defense and first aid.

Private Investigator

A private investigator is responsible for assisting private citizens, companies, and lawyers with collecting and analyzing information. By researching clues about personal, financial and legal matters, a private investigator helps to build a case for criminal and legal investigations. Some private investigators specialize in computer crimes while others work missing-person cases or civil liability cases.

While no degrees are required for this type of work, it is not uncommon for private investigators to have a bachelor's or even post-secondary degrees. Corporate investigators, on the other hand, generally have at least a bachelor's, although many have a master's degree. Popular degrees for criminal investigators include accounting, law or business administration.

Most states as well as the District of Columbia require private investigators to be licensed.

Probation Officer

Depending on the state in which they work, a probation officer is also called a community supervision officer. Probation officers are tasked with monitoring and supervising people released from jail or prison on probation. This job can be dangerous because probation officers work with convicted criminals who have been known to recommit crimes.

A bachelor degree in psychology, criminal justice, or social work is generally required for this type of job. Besides having a bachelor's degree, most states require additional state or federal training.

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