Students wishing to help protect and serve their fellow citizens should consider a law enforcement degree. Whether at the local, state or federal level there are numerous positions available for motivated people with a desire for hard work and keeping communities safe. Students can pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in law enforcement depending upon career goals. The work can be dangerous but quite rewarding at the same time. Despite long hours, danger around every corner and lower pay compared to much safer occupations most people in law enforcement would not trade places with anyone.
Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree
A Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement can prepare an individual to work in law enforcement at local, state and federal levels. Some programs allow students to specialize in certain areas like corrections or juvenile justice while others offer a broad look at the law enforcement system.
Online law enforcement programs utilize various types of technology to deliver courses to students. Message boards, live chat and e-mail are frequently used to pass along assignments and accept completed work. Interactions with students and professors are encouraged through the use of webcams when delivering class presentations. Computers with internet access and word processing software are necessary for completion of assignments. To enter these programs students must have a high school diploma or GED.
Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree Courses
In addition to general education topics like math and english law enforcement students take several classes in sociology and psychology to supplement their law enforcement classes. Some typical law enforcement classes and topics include:
- Juvenile justice system
- Introduction to corrections
- Criminal law
- History of law enforcement
- Research methods
- Community relations
Law Enforcement Bachelor’s Degree Careers
Upon gaining a Bachelor’s degree students are eligible for employment in a variety of agencies and organizations. Students can work in:
- Sheriff’s departments
- Homeland security
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
Some common entry-level careers include:
- Police officer
- Deputy sheriff
- Corrections officer
- Private investigator
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that although job growth will be sluggish at only 7% for police officers through 2020 opportunities will be available as officers retire or move on to other occupations. Average yearly salaries approach $55,000.
Law Enforcement Master’s Degree
A Master of Science in Criminal Justice teaches students about research methods and criminology theories used in leadership positions at agencies. Individuals work as probation and parole officers and as criminal investigators. Students are trained in profiling, rehabilitation and policy creation. Many specialize in such areas as drugs or juveniles. Special topics are included in these degrees in the form of capstone projects. These involve a thesis or research project. Internships are also available with local agencies in online programs. These are invaluable chances for experience. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree and GRE scores to apply to Master’s programs.
Law Enforcement Master’s Course Topics
Common courses and topics in this program are:
- Criminal justice administration
- History of criminal justice
- Public policy
Much of the coursework is research-related and involves methods and statistics.
Law Enforcement Master’s Degree Careers
Career options for those with Master’s degrees include:
- FBI agent
- Parole officer
- Crime analyst
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that many private sector jobs are available in addition to the more common government positions. Jobs for probation and parole officers will grow 18% yearly through 2020 and offer salaries of $47,000 per year.