Preparing for a Career in Law Enforcement: Expert Tips

Crime prevention, public safety, and law enforcement are among the fields that are showing resilience. Regardless of the market conditions, these fields remain essential. They are growing and robust in many ways. It is not surprising to find more people being drawn to a career in public safety or law enforcement.

There are other reasons why a career in law enforcement can be very attractive. The rewards are certainly appealing; it goes beyond financial rewards too because the field offers plenty of opportunities to help others. The challenges are exciting and there is plenty of room for personal development in this field.

If you are interested in a career in law enforcement or public safety, you are not alone. In order to successfully build a career in this field, there are several preparations to be made. We spoke to career officials and those already working in law enforcement and public safety, and here are their top tips for those entering this field.

Map a Career Path Early

Before jumping into a role in law enforcement or public safety, you want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Now is the perfect time to map a career path. What you decide when you enter the field will affect the rest of your journey.

You need to ask yourself a few questions to determine the kind of career you want.

  • Where do you want to be in 5 to 10 years?
  • Are you entering the field to serve or to become a capable professional?
  • How much personal development do you want to invest in?
  • What are the requirements for future positions you want to hold?
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These questions allow you to get started with making plans and preparations. For example, you know that you need to pursue a higher degree if you want to fill administrative or managerial roles. You also know that you need field experience to pursue a career as an analyst or earn a higher rank.

Learn More

Now is also the perfect time to learn more about the field you want to enter and the specific job you are looking for. Different jobs have different requirements, and those requirements can vary significantly in the field of law enforcement.

Some jobs, for instance, require physical training. Other jobs require you to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or public safety. Others may have different specific requirements, including:

  • Certain years of experience in a specific role
  • Passing required tests
  • Clean background
  • Technology prowess
  • Management know-how

There are even jobs that require a master’s degree or specific certifications. Once again, figuring out the requirement of the field you want to enter is something best done before you get started. You will have more time to prepare this way.

You can learn more about a specific job in law enforcement or public safety by browsing through online resource centers or career pages. For example, visit this site if you want to learn about what it takes to become a crime analyst. 

Know the Risks

People often associate a career in law enforcement or public safety as a high-risk career, but that is not always the case. That said, understanding the risk profile of a job or a career path is still something you want to do early in the game. By knowing the risks that you face, you can prepare for your career better.

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For example, working as a law enforcement officer means facing real danger in the field. Working as an administrator, on the other hand, does not expose you to as big of a risk. The two professions require different preparations; with the former, you want to make sure that you have proper training in how to protect yourself.

There are four ways to manage professional risks, and they are:

  • Avoidance, which means eliminating or avoiding the risks entirely
  • Reduction, which is usually done by mitigating the risk, either through direct means or by taking steps to protect those affected by the risk (i.e. getting a better home security system)
  • Sharing, which involves insurance and outsourcing the management of the risks you face to a third-party
  • Retention, which simply means accepting that there are risks to face and you have made the necessary preparations to face them

For monetary risks, choosing one of these four ways is relatively easy. For other types of risks, however, you have to decide how to best manage your professional risks on a case-by-case basis.

Know the Rewards

Last but certainly not least, learn about the rewards that you can expect from entering the field. If you already have a particular job in mind, you can learn more about the average annual salary, the overall salary growth, and other rewards you may receive from working in law enforcement and public safety.

Sticking with crime analyst as an example, the referenced article by Laurier University details an average salary of around $90,000 for those working as a crime analyst. The article also details some of the tasks that you will be handling, complete with other information about the profession.

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Finding more information about the expected rewards is a good way to fully understand the career you are getting into. You also have the ability to compare the rewards that you can earn with the risks that you must face, allowing you to decide if the career is right for you.

Other things that you should take into account before making this career decision are:

  • Your personality, including your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your options, such as other professions that will lead to the same role or allow you to fulfill your personal objectives
  • General information on job satisfaction, field growth, and others
  • Career pathway and the different options you have
  • Availability of higher positions
  • Field outlook

The more information you take in, the better you’ll be at deciding whether the field – or the specific job – is right for you. Once you have completed these preparations, you should be able to achieve success in law enforcement and public safety without hassle.