What is it about law enforcement that intrigues you? Is it the idea of helping people? Being able to uphold the law? The fact that you can communicate on a daily basis, and that you will make a difference?
On the other hand, keep in mind that law enforcement is never what the television shows portray it to be. You will not be able to solve a crime in the span of a few hours, and you will always be in charge of handling numerous cases at the same time as opposed to only one.
The same way you would pursue any other career, you need to think about whether this type of job aligns with your values and beliefs. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Research and choosing a career in law enforcement
First and foremost, keep in mind that law enforcement encompasses a whole variety of different jobs, and you must determine which one you are interested in pursuing further the most.
Some options could include:
- Police officer
- Deputy sheriff
- Border patrol agent
- Game warden
- Investigator or detective
- FBI agent
- Immigration inspector
- Criminal analyst
- Evidence technician
As you can imagine, this list can continue going for many other pages, as there are many different types of roles that you could pursue in law enforcement. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you must always seek the option that you are most interested in, and know the difference between fiction and non-fiction for that particular role.
When you are a police officer, do not expect that you will be going rogue or spending most of your time on one case when you are employed. Hollywood creates these movies and television series for entertainment, and although your job will be rewarding, it’s not accurate to believe that your day-to-day tasks will include what you see on television.
That being said, those shows might have sparked an initial interest in this field, which you can then pursue further.
Growing certain skillsets
There are specific soft skills that you will need to develop if you want to work in law enforcement. Of course, this will once again depend on the exact type of job that you want to obtain, but take the example of police officer skillsets. Some of these include your ability to:
- Be an active listener
- Built trust
- Demonstrate empathy and compassion
- Adopt critical thinking skills
- Efficient at conflict resolution
The aforementioned soft skills at not only useful for police officers to learn, but other professionals who are working in law enforcement as well, whether you are a lawyer, paralegal, or you are working in another role.
Naturally, you will learn to grow your expertise while on the job, but you must already have an interest in these qualities from the start. If you don’t want to communicate on a daily basis and be surrounded by people, then a public-facing job might not be right for you.
Getting the necessary education
It’s naturally essential to seek the appropriate education before you get hired in a job of any kind.
The good news is that you have many undergraduate majors to choose from when it comes to working in law enforcement.
One popular option that will get you better acquainted with understanding the legal system is criminology. Moreover, it’s also up to you to decide where you want to pursue this degree in the first place, or whether or not you want to get your college degree online.
There are academic institutions that offer you this possibility, with one example being getting your online degree through the best criminology programs in Ontario, Canada.
Criminology will always prepare you for a career in law enforcement, public safety, or, of course, criminology and policing.
The best part of completing this degree online is the fact that you are able to do it in your own time and schedule, while also focusing on other responsibilities and priorities that take up a large chunk of your time.
Pass any necessary fitness tests
There are some law enforcement career paths that will require you to pass the necessary fitness tests, and this includes the role of a police officer. It’s not enough to attend college, as you must also be physically fit when you are in the police academy.
In order to get hired, you will need to pass the interview, of course, but also a background check. A background check is crucial because it demonstrates to your employer that you do not have a prior criminal record, and as someone working in law enforcement, it’s critical that your record is clean.
Attending industry relevant events
Similar to any other career that you are aspiring to achieve at some point, you must learn how to network. Networking will open up doors for you that otherwise were not there, and there is no doubt that your academic institution offers these type of events.
It is your job to attend them and to keep an open eye and ear on what opportunities are present for you to pursue. By talking to a professional working in a law enforcement field, you might even realize that you want to pursue a particular role that wasn’t on your mind before.
Progressing in your career
Have you thought about what you can do in order to advance your career along? For starters, you must already have a clear sense of what your mission is at work, and you should continue pursuing that in order to meet your goals.
You already know, in your gut, what you want to achieve and pursue, so continue trusting it, and never stop learning at any point of your career.
Only you can decide if a role in law enforcement is right for you. Keep in mind that it’s never too late to switch career paths, considering that you will also excel in the field that you are most excited about pursuing. Considering there are so many options in law enforcement alone, you will no doubt find one role that is your calling.