Law enforcement involves a lot more than arresting criminals and locking them up. It is an extremely diverse field which includes intelligence analysis, criminal justice, forensic analysis, and criminal prosecution. Almost one million law enforcement officers perform a variety of functions that keep our communities safe. Law enforcement officers are our first line of defense against criminals and terrorists, and put their lives on the line every single day in order to ensure the safety of citizens around the country. In a field as diverse as law enforcement hundreds of career options are available with state law enforcement agencies and federal bodies such as the CIA, FBI, The US Marshal Service, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
What types of degrees are offered?
Most law enforcement officers hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, psychology or security management. A background in foreign languages, humanities or the liberal arts can also be helpful in law enforcement. A number of colleges offer associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs for students who wish to obtain a law enforcement degree. A typical associate’s degree in law enforcement can be completed in as little as eighteen months and includes basic instruction in the areas of public safety and criminal law. This degree is popular among aspiring police officers, troopers and corrections officers. The more rigorous four year long bachelor’s degree includes an in depth study of subjects such as criminology, investigative techniques, crime scene processing, forensics and criminal law.
Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree can enroll in a master’s level degree in law enforcement and specialize in an area such as criminal prosecution, immigration, forensics or anti-terrorism. Obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s level law enforcement degree is usually required for careers2 in federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, NSA, CIA and the Marshal Service. A variety of positions in private security companies are also available for law enforcement degree holders. In addition to the aforementioned degrees, a number of diploma and certification programs are also offered and are especially popular among law enforcement professionals who are looking to increase their qualifications or move up to a better paying position.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities in law enforcement are expected to increase by more than 15% over the next decade. Already undergraduate degrees in law enforcement are the most popular in the country, surpassing engineering, law and IT. As the need for public safety increases in order to protect our country and its citizens from internal and external threats, more and more law enforcement careers2 are being created. Graduates of law enforcement programs can go on to make careers2 as FBI agents, US Marshalls, crime scene investigators and intelligence analysts and hold a variety of other highly rewarding positions that allow them to best serve their nation and fellow citizens.
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