Career Paths For Police Officers


Possible Career Paths For Ex

Police officer resigns amid questions about work history

The job of the police officer is rewarding and challenging at the same time, however, at some point, the person may decide that it is time to move on and pursue a different career path. Whether you have spent a couple of years or a couple of decades on the job, there are skills and qualities you have acquired while helping people and enforcing the law that you can apply in a whole range of fields.

So, if you are an ex-police officer or you are considering a change in your career, our short guide will help you realize how many good qualities, knowledge, and skills you can offer to your new employer, and which are the three main options you can choose from for your next job.

Who Will Thrive In This Career

To thrive as a police officer, you must want to help others, care about the general public and have a genuine passion for making a difference to the community. Police officers will also thrive in the profession if they can work well under pressure and can work as part of a reputable and efficient team. There are lots of progression opportunities with the police force, however in order to thrive and progress to these positions, police officers much have the desire to grow and improve themselves.

From Rookie To Chief Make Your Way Through The Ranks

While there are many great reasons to choose to work in law enforcement, one reason is the potential for good officers to make their way up the chain. Command structures are an important element of efficient police forces, and officers with the right skills can advance through the ranks. Not every police career path is the same, but a general timeline provides a good idea of what new officers can expect.

Also Check: Online Masters In Career Counseling

Bachelor’s Degree In Law Enforcement

A law enforcement degree at the bachelor’s level typically takes four years to complete and can include many different topics or subjects. There are prototypical degrees such as criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement studies. But there are other majors that can hold police officers in good stead. For example, graduates with a degree in accounting are excellent candidates for a career in white collar crime investigations, while computer science majors can have an advantage if they’re interested in pursuing a career in computer forensics or cyber crimes.

Those in a bachelor’s degree program in a law-related field can expect to find courses like these:

Police Ethics

What Role Could Suit You

Career Paths: Police

Do you like the idea of neighbourhood policing or is intelligence gathering more your thing? Interested in dog handling or would you prefer to be behind the wheel?

All the qualities, skills and experience Ive got from my firearms role and from being a supervisor are completely transferable to being an Inspector

Sergeant Faith Morgan has had a pretty varied career, including stints with the circus and the prison service before becoming a police officer and then specialising in firearms. Watch her story to see how her career has progressed.

You May Like: Best Military Branch For Career

Crime Scene Investigator: $62k

Crime scene investigation jobs are in a police department and often make enticing post-retirement jobs for cops who love to hunt for clues and sift through evidence. You have to be meticulous and precise in order to ensure that no detail goes undocumented and that all evidence is properly preserved. You might lift fingerprints, collect hair and tissue samples, gather bullet fragments, or take photos of the scene. If you’d rather deal with physical evidence than human suspects, this might make a good second career for you.

What Do Related Occupations Make

If you’re interested in how to become a police officer, you might also be interested in related professions. Working as a correctional officer, EMT or paramedic, firefighter, probation officer, security guard, gaming surveillance officer, game warden or firefighter might be on your radar. If that’s the case, you can peruse the list of related occupations below, which includes average salaries:

What you earn depends on where you live, including the region, state or city. To help determine what you can expect to make in your particular area, our handy salary comparison tool can help.

Recommended Reading: What Is Armed Forces Career Center

Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

You also have federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, DEA, US Marshall Service, and the Capitol Police. These agencies also have a law enforcement component. What I mean by that is a primary mission of the agencies is not law enforcement however, within that agency, they do have a law enforcement component.

As an example, the US Department of State is not a law enforcement agency however, within the State Department is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is remarkably similar to the US Secret Service and their Special Agents in the Department of Defense.

The Postal Service has postal inspectors. The Internal Revenue Service has the criminal investigation division, and those are all law enforcement components within a larger agency. The Supreme Court that has their own police department and library of Congress, CIA, and theyre like any other law enforcement agency, theyre uniform positions, and they are separate specifically for that agency.

Also with cabinet level positions, theres an Office of Inspector General and they do have a law enforcement component. There is the United States Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, US Department of Transportation Housing and Urban Development, and those offices have special agents and law enforcement officers. Those are plain-clothes, investigative positions.

Police Officer Salaries Across The Us

St. Paul Police Program Aims To Help New Recruit Overcome Past Challenges

Salaries of police officers are based on many factors, including experience, skills and training. However, one of the most important factors is based on geography. Certain areas of the country pay more, but are often in areas that have higher costs of living. For more information about what police officers can make and where they can make it, check out the map below.

You May Like: Career In Nutrition And Dietetics

Pass A Law Enforcement Exam

Passing a law enforcement exam may also be required to become a police officer. These exams often include:

  • A written exam with various true and false questions, short essay questions, and multiple-choice questions is designed to test your knowledge about the job. These may test your mathematical skills, grammar, reading comprehension, decision-making skills, and logic in scenarios you may encounter while on the job.
  • An oral exam may be given in the form of an interview to test your general presentation and communication skills.
  • You may also be required to write an essay to test your ability to use logic, express ideas and thoughts clearly, and provide reasoning for your logic as well as the evidence needed to support your claims.

You must pass this entrance exam to be accepted into the police academy.

What Are The Highest Paying Jobs In Law Enforcement

Several law enforcement jobs pay well above the median household income in the United States. How much you will make will vary depending on your location, experience, and agency.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent reports, here are the top five highest-paying jobs in law enforcement.

Correctional officers and bailiffs: $45,300

Recommended Reading: Career Path Of Business Analyst

Applying Before Youre Qualified

With some of the agencies, the hiring process is an automated system. The system will ask you if you have that two-year degree? Do you have that four-year degree? If you say no, it will say Im sorry, but youre not qualified. Other agencies have a little more discretion. Theyll let you apply several months before you actually meet the qualifications, knowing that the hiring process takes several months.

Also, its a great time to be meeting with recruiters from different agencies that youre interested in working with and start to establish a relationship with those recruiters.When you actually qualify for the positions that youre interested in, you really need to get serious with applying. Sometimes people have one agency that they want to work for, and thats great. However, its a good idea to look at other agencies that may have positions that youre interested in with. Theres nothing wrong with applying to multiple agencies, especially if those are positions in agencies that youd like to work for. Also, you really want to get out there and meet with recruiters and talk to them about what you can do to be a competitive candidate, and really establish those relationships with the recruiter.

Pros And Cons Of A Career As A Police Officer:

Career Paths: Police


  • Helping protect members of society is incredibly rewarding, meaning that being a police officer is a career with high job satisfaction
  • Police officers are always learning and developing their skills
  • Police officers work in teams, where they form close and trusting relationships with their colleagues, making it an enjoyable and welcoming working environment
  • Police officers who work fairly and show strong leadership skills will have many opportunities for promotion and recognition


  • As some police officers do not work fairly, all police officers are often under scrutiny and sometimes disrespected, which can make it very frustrating for those officers who follow the correct protocol
  • As police officers may often come into contact with unpredictable criminals or emergency situations, it can be a very dangerous job, with death or injury not being unreasonable to expect
  • Being a police officer is incredibly challenging, draining and emotionally taxing
  • Police officers normally work shifts, which are often long hours and overtime is expected
  • Like most jobs, there are mundane administration and paperwork tasks to be carried out

Read Also: X Ray Tech Career Information

When To Apply For A Job

About six months before for you qualify, start looking at the job announcements get an idea of what those jobs require. Also, its a good idea to meet with recruiters from agencies. Most agencies have somebody who is either on phone full time, part time, or as part of their collateral duties. Normally theyll be happy to meet with you and talk about what their agency does, what the requirements are, the police hiring process, and how you should prepare yourself for applying with that agency.

When its about three months before you meet the minimum qualifications, it is a good idea to start applying where possible. Sometimes its a catch 22, and the agency may require a two-year degree or a four-year degree, and in three months you graduate.

State Law Enforcement Agencies

There are a lot of different state law enforcement agencies out there. You typically have State Police or a State Patrol Department of Public Safety. Usually, each state has some version of that. Most states have some version of a criminal investigation division a state crime lab and a Department of Natural Resources. States most likely will also have a Department of Revenue, and some type of an alcohol beverage control agency. States that have legalized any type of gambling usually have some type of gaming regulation and enforcement. Likewise, states that have legalized marijuana will have some type of marijuana enforcement.

Also Check: Career Field Manager Air Force

Why Is Law Enforcement A Good Career

There are a few reasons why working for a law enforcement agency has more benefits as a lifelong career but with more responsibilities. Family members also have greater respect for public safety occupations.

Family life and home life can be challenging when you save peopleâs lives by compromising your own safety but every home town needs help. Precincts offer paid overtime and extra pay even on slow days which is better than minimum wage for a second job. Some big-city departments have started a more diverse force with more women and gender diversity to better serve the more diverse communities.

Here are a few more compelling reasons law enforcement is a great career:

Why Did You Choose Law Enforcement As A Career

Phoenix Police Department Specialty Series-SAU PRV Driver

Few careers have such satisfying aspects as full retirement packages and other benefits as like career advancement, early retirement, and further education. Just a few examples of why being on the police force and doing police work is helpful to more than just communities and future society.

Answering emergency calls for most precincts as a state trooper is the first step in law enforcement. Next, is traffic stops to help ensure the safety of others on the roadways. After that, law enforcement officials will investigate a crime scene.

Don’t Miss: Scioto County Career Technical Center

Why Choose A Career In Law Enforcement

Serving society for most officers is the reason a person should become a cop because cops on duty should be serving their communities and protecting them. The path after that career change is your choice and there is no shortage of opportunities for career advancement. We hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any thoughts or questions please comment below. For more information about law enforcement careers, check out our law enforcement careers category!

The Ultimate Law Enforcement Career List For 2022

Building a career in law enforcement is a challenging and rewarding task at the same time. Sworn law enforcement officers have the authority to carry firearms, make arrests and have taken an oath to enforce the law. Different officers have various job titles, career opportunities and duties that we will summarize in our guide below.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the United States Department of Labor in 2014 there were 3,44,3800 people in protective service occupations and the projected number for 2024 is 3,597,700, which means 4.5% growth. That is lower than the average for the country. The demand however, varies according to the specific career within law enforcement you would like to pursue. While the demand for police officers and detectives is expected to raise by 4% for the same period , the need for more specialized experts, especially in the field of Information and Technology will be much greater. The demand for Cybersecurity Specialists is expected to increase by more than 25% and for Information Security Analysts by 37%. Therefore, we can say that employment opportunities in the law enforcement sector will be available for those who pursue them and properly prepare for the exams and interviews associated with hiring process for the job.

Have a look at the law enforcement career list below to find the job that best matches your interests and skills. Once you decide, you can start browsing the Law Enforcement Job Openings available.

Don’t Miss: What Army Career Is Right For Me

Working Hours And Conditions

Police officers typically work rotational shift patterns, racking up a base total of around 40 hours a week. However, as the police provide a 24/7 service, its highly likely that you will take on considerable overtime and may have to work on your days off in order to cover colleagues shifts, security-sensitive public events or manning gaps.

As you progress through your career and take on more responsibility, you may also be called into work during emergencies or serious crimes. You will work a lot of unsocial hours, including nights and weekends, so bear this in mind. On the plus side, overtime rates for those extra hours are high, and youll get between 22 and 30 paid leave days per year.

You will spend a lot of your time out on patrol in all weathers and conditions, so you will need to meet certain minimum fitness requirements as you specialise, your role may become more office-based. Ultimately, though, your work conditions will be influenced by regional factors, such as the terrain and the culture of the environment around you. Its also worth noting that all police officers in the US routinely carry firearms but not in the UK although there are some exceptions such as the Civil Nuclear Constabulary , the Police Service of Northern Ireland and specialised armed response teams such as Trojan.

Fantastic Jobs For Retired Police Officers Who Want Second Careers

Career Path

Leaving active duty law enforcement doesn’t have to mean leaving the work world entirely. That’s because jobs for retired police officers are abundantly available. Whether you are drawn to roles in security and investigations or would prefer to explore a completely new field, the skills and experience you gained during your years on the force can be leveraged into all kinds of rewarding opportunities.

It’s common for police officers to retire while they are reasonably young, which gives them a unique chance to dedicate several years to a new career. Many former cops go on to satisfying positions in law, aviation, healthcare, education, communications, and a host of other sectors. So if you’re thinking, “I’d like to keep working, but I don’t want to be a police officer anymore,” relax. Plenty of other career paths are open to you.

This article outlines more than a dozen potential jobs for ex-officers who would like to continue in some sort of law enforcement or security capacity. It also describes a wide variety of options for former cops who are looking to strike out in a whole new direction. Here’s the reality: For a retired police officer, job opportunities abound. So read on to discover what your future could hold!

The earnings below represent median salaries and are based on 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics . All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Recommended Reading: Career For Business Administration Degree

How To Prepare For A Career In Law Enforcement

If you are interested in a career in law enforcement, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

First, get your degree. While you can become a police officer with just a high school diploma, having a college degree will give you an advantage when it comes to promotions and job opportunities.

Second, take some law enforcement courses. These courses will give you an overview of the law enforcement field and help you decide if this is the right career for you.

Third, volunteer with your local police department or sheriffâs office. This is a great way to get experience in law enforcement and make some connections within the field.

Choosing law enforcement as your career is a big decision so make sure you understand and prepare for the challenges that come with the job. But if youâre up for the challenge, law enforcement can be a very rewarding career.

Share post:



More like this

How To Make Career In Finance

Highest Paying...

Career Goals In Healthcare Administration

Why Pursue...

Women’s Career Development Programme

What Past...