Police Officer

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Police Officer


Few occupations are as highly profiled in our society as that of police officer. Unlike many jobs out there, we learn about the police at about the same time as we are learning how to walk. Police officers come visit us at school when we are children, we see them patrolling our cities as adults. Their cars, clothes, and sirens are recognizable to us, no matter what city or country we're in. We watch TV shows about them, we read books about them, we know of countless movies which tell police stories. We learn about them from newspapers and the paper. But what do we really know about the everyday life of a police officer?

As children, we learn that they help to protect citizens--we know to call them if something is wrong, we know to go to them if we're lost. As we get older, we learn that the police force at its officers play a crucial role in the structure of North American society. This is a society based on rules and laws, and the police force exists to maintain and protect those laws and rules. They do this in a number of ways, from arresting people who break those law to monitoring traffic to initiate social change through programs designed to promote safer neighborhoods. They are involved in foot, bike, and car patrols, during the day and night. They answer emergency calls assisting with domestic disturbances. They are also required on the scene of car crashes, and in the discovery of an accidental or suspicious death.

Along with community-based activities, there is also a lot of behind-the-scenes work that doesn't make it into the movies. Quite a lot of time is spent in the police precinct, completing paperwork. Police officers need to document each action they take in a criminal investigation, or any routine outreach they are involved in. This is important because other officers may deal with the same situation later, and want to know what action was taken previously. In a criminal investigation, detectives, lawyers, and judges will need to know details for court proceedings, and a police officer may be required to testify months or even years later therefore, accurate notes are crucial.
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Grand Canyon University
Interested in enhancing your skills and knowledge in the criminal justice field? Learn more at GCU!
Programs Offered:
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a job in law enforcement? Individuals must be keen observers who notice details, good communicators who are able to speak with and listen to children, panicked victims, and suspects and calm, and able to ask questions without frightening or alienating the person they are interviewing. A good understanding of the law and a desire to see justice done properly are important qualities. They should be interested in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and negotiation and have an interest in working with the community to stop criminal cycles. Honesty, maturity, integrity, and a non-sexist, culturally open attitude are tremendous assets to a successful police officer. Computer skills are also required.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Patrol neighborhoods and downtown areas
  • Investigate crimes and accidents
  • Secure evidence, interview witnesses, compile notes and reports
  • Provide testimony in court
  • Arrest suspects
  • Provide emergency assistance to victims of accidents, crimes and natural disasters
  • Initiate and oversee public programming in crime prevention, safety programs
  • A typical day for a police officer depends on the department they work in, and the size of the town the detachment is in. Generally, though, police officers spend most of their time monitoring the communities, looking for criminal action, investigating suspicious situations, and working with citizens to prevent further crimes from occurring. A police officer may answer emergency calls, and make arrests when appropriate. They will write reports about each incident, regardless of whether or not it resulted in an arrest. They will monitor traffic, looking for speeders. They will spend much of the day traveling by car, bike, or on foot, or working in an office.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Police officers work in teams. Along with the police team, they also work with firefighters and paramedics, as all three answer emergency calls. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions. Seeing as communities don't shut down at 5pm, police officers work shifts, overnight, weekends, and holidays. They interact with many different people within the community and within the field of law enforcement.This occupation provides individuals with the opportunity to interact with people they may not ordinarily get to know.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Anyone trained as a police officer has quite a few options. There is always the possibility of moving up the ranks. There is also specializing in detective work, outreach programs, highway police work and harbor police work. There is also the option of leaving the police force and moving on to law school, to work on the other side of the spectrum as a defense lawyer, or for the state as a prosecuting attorney. Former police officers can also become security guards, private investigators, paramedics, or firefighters.

  Educational Paths  
Along with having good eyesight and good physical condition a secure, healthy mind, it is also recommended, but not required, to attend a community college to get a diploma in law enforcement. It is also a good idea to get a university degree in law, security, or social sciences. There are police training programs offered at colleges across the nation.
Once they have obtained a job with a police force, new recruits will go through a three to six-month training program.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Grand Canyon University
Pursue a Bachelor's or Master's in Criminal Justice online
Programs Offered:
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies

Purdue University Global


World-Class Education Tailored for Working Adults

Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Globaldelivers a fully personalized online experience tailored for working adults.

Programs Offered:
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • MS in Criminal Justice
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Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Law: International Legal Studies
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • And more...

American InterContinental University Online

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to: www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Generalist

Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University was among the first colleges or universities to teach on military bases and has been educating servicemen and women since 1973.
Programs Offered:
  • AA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • And more...

UEI College

At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

Programs Offered:
  • Criminal Justice (11-Month Diploma Program)

Florida Tech

See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Platt College
Turn Your Passion Into A Career with Platt!
At Platt College, we encourage our students to follow their passions, wherever they may lie, to find a career they love. You’ll find a supportive learning environment and career-focused training designed to help you gain the knowledge and hands-on training you need to succeed. 
Programs Offered:
  • Criminal Justice

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