Is a Career in Law Enforcement Right for You?
It may have been a childhood dream of yours to be a police officer, but how much do you actually know about the role? We’ve all watched TV series that make it look like a very exciting and glamorous career, but how near to reality are they? Working in law enforcement can be a very rewarding career choice, but it’s also very challenging. If you’re wondering whether it’s right for you, keep reading. The following reasons are why people working in the field of law enforcement love their jobs.
- You Get to Save Lives
There aren’t too many careers that provide you with an opportunity to save lives. A firefighter, doctor, and EMT are just a few examples, and a police officer is another one. It’s not just a police officer either. It is part of the training for a sheriff’s deputy, security professional, state or federal agent. When you’re not directly responsible for saving a person’s life, you’ll spend much of your time protecting people and making sure they’re able to live a safe and secure life. A career in law enforcement means you’ll have a real impact on people every day, which makes it truly meaningful.
- You Make an Impact in Your Local Community
Working in law enforcement means you get to make an impact on people in your own community. It’s often the case that people choose to work where they live, making this role even more meaningful. Not only will your work involve saving people’s lives, but you’ll also be working toward making your community a better and safer place to live. Much of your work will include reaching out to the local community, strengthening relationships and ensuring crimes and damage to people and property is kept to a minimum.
- It’s Not a Boring Career
Ask any law enforcement officer, and they’re never going to say their work is boring. In fact, it’s the absolute opposite. You’ll get opportunities to problem solve and make decisions and no two days are ever the same. There are bound to be a few slow days, but each one has the potential to be exciting and interesting. To be an effective law enforcement officer, you have to be prepared for anything. You’re going to experience moments of adrenaline-pumping action, but you’re also going to be required to think on your feet. Quick decisions may have to be made after analyzing a situation and deciding on the best course of action. You’re not going to spend all your time out on the street but expect there to be some desk time and paperwork.
- The Salary is Very Attractive
There aren’t too many career options that can match the salary of a law enforcement officer, but that’s only to be expected because you will be putting your life on the line every day. Salaries do vary depending on your job title, location, and qualifications. Enroll for a criminology program, for example, and you can expect a much higher salary when you’re qualified.
- Benefits are Many
As well as a very attractive salary, there are a number of other benefits you can enjoy. Most law enforcement officers are entitled to a pension or other type of retirement plan, and there’s often the opportunity to retire early. You might also receive extra pay for holidays and overtime work, a tuition allowance, increased pay or bonuses if you’re on call or work irregular hours. There may also be a comprehensive health insurance plan you can take advantage of that might even cover family members.
- There’s Always Room for Career Advancement
It used to be that you could work your way from the bottom to the top whatever industry you worked in. Nowadays, there’s not so much room for advancement. Law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, because of the way they’re structured, provide plenty of room for advancement. There is a chain of command and several layers of authority you can work your way through. Other areas and departments can also be considered if you want to advance your career. It also goes without saying that as you progress through the ranks, so your salary will increase, there will be more benefits, greater respect, and more responsibilities. What you choose to do is down to personal preference. You might decide to stay in one position for the whole of your career, work up to a particular position, or go all the way to the top.
- You Can Work Anywhere
Law enforcement jobs are available all over the world, and while different countries may have different requirements, the required education standard is often similar. You get to choose where you want to work. It might be in your hometown, the next state or another country altogether. Wherever you go in the world, there is always a need for trained professional law enforcement officers.
- You Help People Make Better Choices
Being a police officer means you often get to see people when they’re at their worst. A few examples include gang members, thieves, spousal abusers, drug addicts, and people who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When you’re a law enforcement officer, you’re given a very unique opportunity to show these people a better way to live their lives. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll listen to what you’ve got to say, but if you treat them with respect and kindness, your advice may be taken on board by some of them.
The Selection Process is a Very Long One
If you think you’re ready for the challenge of working in law enforcement, don’t expect to be given a gun and a badge straightaway. The application, selection, and appointment process can take four to six months and even longer. Candidates are put through a very lengthy process of interviews, assessments, and background checks. Assessments will be made of your writing ability, physical agility, and you’ll also have an oral interview. The background check will also be extensive. Your credit history will be examined, your driving record, and whether you have a past history of drug or alcohol usage.
Law Enforcement Professional Qualities
If you want to be a competent law enforcement professional, there are several qualities you have to possess. The most obvious ones have to be honesty, strength, integrity, and an ability to remain calm under pressure. The qualities required, however, go much further than these. They include the following:
- Communication Skills – A law enforcement officer only wants to use physical force and restraint as a last resort. To be most effective at your job, you have to be able to resolve issues and enforce the law without resorting to physical confrontation. The number one asset of a law enforcement officer has to be their ability to communicate effectively. That includes being able to develop a rapport with the general public, work colleagues, and informants and be able to disarm would be criminals. Being able to interpret a range of verbal and non-verbal cues is also important.
- Be Committed to Helping People – A good law enforcement officer has to be strong, but they also have to be able to show a meeker and milder side to their personality. The motivation for choosing this career path has to be to help better other peoples’ lives and situations, protect those who can’t defend themselves, and make a positive difference in the world.
- Able to Handle Difficult People and Situations – You may find yourself having to deal with elements of society who refuse to obey the law. This means some of the people you encounter will be difficult. You might also find yourself in potentially tricky situations. It might be an angry husband, the perpetrator of road rage, or apprehending a dangerous criminal. While the situation may be a difficult one, you’ll have to maintain your composure and manage the situation without having to resort to physical force if possible.
- Physical and Psychological Attributes – Being a law enforcement officer is a very physically challenging and dangerous career path to choose. You will need to be physically and mentally fit at all times, as otherwise, you’ll be unable to carry out your duties effectively. As well as being a physically demanding career, it’s also emotionally challenging. There will be routine physical exams and drug tests. Eye tests are also a requirement. Stamina and agility are just as important as physical strength.
- Serving Others – Serving others is at the heart of a law enforcement officer’s daily work. You will be called on to protect and service your community, and this might often go beyond what you would imagine as a law enforcement officers daily work. You might find yourself first on the scene in an emergency, and your response will have a significant impact on those you’re helping. Other opportunities to connect might include calming victims, helping out a stranded motorist, even helping an old lady cross the road!
If you’d like to spend your days serving those in your community and making an impact with your career, law enforcement could be the perfect fit.