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What are the Different Law Enforcement Jobs?

By Carol Francois
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

There are four different law enforcement jobs: police officer, inspector or detective, private security, and management. All law enforcement jobs require training in state and federal law, a specific level of physical fitness, and ability to work rotating shifts. Law enforcement positions appeal to people who have a strong desire for fairness, equity, and personal responsibility.

In order to qualify for law enforcement jobs, you will need a diploma or degree in law enforcement, or completion of police officer training school. To gain admission to these programs, you will need high school credits in English, math, and technology. Many people complete a diploma in law enforcement and then apply for additional training to further their careers.

The most common type of law enforcement job is police officer. These positions provide front-line law enforcement and assistance to the public. A police officer is employed by the local city or state and is responsible for keeping the peace, assisting the public, and ensuring the law is followed. The level of salary and risk in this type of job varies widely and it is well worth the time to research the different communities before selecting a police force to apply to.

An inspector or detective has at least five years experience as a police officer and is responsible for working specific cases where a crime has occurred. This role is often considered a promotion, but some people find they miss the level of daily interaction with people that a police officer can achieve. The inspector or detective spends the day exploring the details of the crime, writing reports, and providing evidence in court, if required.

Private security firms are a growing provider of law enforcement jobs. The rank and complexity of the role can vary from working in a shopping mall to providing security for high-ranking political figures or celebrities. Working for a private security firm typically pays a higher salary than a police officer, however, a minimum five years of experience is required. It is important to know that many firms conduct personality and drug tests as part of the interview process.

Management of other law enforcement officers can include a switch from law enforcement to administrative duties. In this role, the primary task is management of staff, ensuring compliance with rules, and following up on administrative tasks. Additional training is often required to qualify for these roles.

People who report the greatest satisfaction in law enforcement jobs enjoy helping people, problem solving, and teamwork. Physical fitness, mental health, and a good emotional support network are all necessary to complete the tasks of these jobs. The burn-out rate in law enforcement jobs is quite high, so it is important to create a strong network of family and friends that can be relied on for mental and emotional support.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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