In an era of economic instability and a challenging job market, Aidan J. Cassidy notes that choosing a good career field can be challenging—but for some, a law enforcement career may be the answer. This job path offers a host of challenges and daily duties that not many other professions can match. In addition to this, law enforcement officers often have generous benefits packages and earn a sizeable wage.
Career Profiles reports that law enforcement offers a diversity of job options including municipal, corrections officer, private security guard, police officer, investigative officer, court clerk, criminologist, paralegal, lawyer, and even judge. There are also options at the state level, like highway patrol and state trooper. At the federal level, there are investigative or uniformed career positions like positions with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF.)
While unfortunate, domestic and international crime is not going away, and security is a big concern for the United States and other countries. Career Profiles explains that increase in crime, along with an increasing population, creates a continued demand for qualified law enforcement officials. A report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the demand for qualified law enforcement officials is expected to continue at a higher rate than most other occupations until at least 2018.
Aidan J. Cassidy, who has more than 20 years of experience in the law enforcement field, added that law enforcement jobs also offer attractive benefits. Most law enforcement professionals are given generous pension plans and substantial retirement packages. Career Profiles notes that this is especially true for those who work at the federal level. At this level, officers generally receive annual salary increases, and most federal employees also earn special salary rates to compensate for expected overtime and relocation.
Law enforcement availability pay (LEAP) is provided to federal employees who are expected to work extended overtime; this is typically equal to 25 percent of the employee’s base salary grade. Career Profiles adds that state and local law enforcement employees are also compensated for overtime, typically on a per hour basis.
Supplemental pay can also include annual uniform allowances and periodic equipment allowances, as well as bonuses for degrees, special training, or language skills, according to Discover Policing. The site also notes that law enforcement officers see above average salaries and good retirement packages. Moreover, they have insurance coverage options that usually exceed those offered by private employers.
According to Career Profiles, many police officers are able to retire at half-pay, or half their base salary, after 20 years of service. Many federal officers and employees can retire at full retirement pay after 20 years. This enables most law enforcement professionals to pursue another career after 20 years of service and still receive compensation.
“Law enforcement is an excellent career with a high level of employee satisfaction. Almost every police officer in the business will tell you how much they love their job,” says Aidan J. Cassidy
An article on About.com notes that, while it isn’t a secret that law enforcement officers like to reveal often, they truly believe the job is fun. It’s not uncommon to hear an officer comment about how they can’t believe they are getting paid to perform their job duties, like driving fast, chasing people down on foot, working crime scenes, guarding perimeters, tracking suspects, and more. Moreover, Aidan J. Cassidy believes that many police activities bring an adrenaline rush that can keep you excited and enthusiastic long after the incident is over.
There is also an opportunity for ongoing learning in the law enforcement field. Besides the mandatory training and retraining that is required in many departments, training opportunities exist for various aspects like SWAT, foreign languages, advanced defensive tactics, physical fitness, and more. Any training that you believe will aid in your career is often available at no cost to the individual officer.
About.com adds that the chain of command structure offered in many law enforcement specialties is such that you are given many opportunities to promote and advance through the ranks. Rank structures in the law enforcement sector often resemble those in the military. As positions are made available, people in lower ranks often fill them. While some agencies may promote someone from outside the department, more often than not there is a promotional process for rank and file officers. Furthermore, larger police agencies like the NYPD or LAPD will usually make several promotions throughout the year, giving many officers several opportunities to advance their careers.
A career in law enforcement is rewarding in many ways, according to experts and former law enforcement officials. The average starting salary for a job is higher than many other professions, and departments often offer excellent benefits packages. Many officers also report high job satisfaction, and note that the job offers them opportunities that they wouldn’t have in a different field of work. Aidan J. Cassidy states that if you are looking for a new career, law enforcement is an excellent option.
Melissa Stusinski contributed to this report.