Police Officer Job Description & Career Outlook

Police officers are charged with protecting life and property. Although police work can be stressful and dangerous, a police officer career is rewarding. The duties of police officers are varied. One of the main duties is to pursue and arrest people who break the law. They must give warnings or issue tickets or citations. They also respond to emergency calls from individuals. When not patrolling their jurisdiction and pursuing criminals, police officers spend a great deal of time writing reports.

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Increasingly, police officers tend to specialize in a particular area, such as fingerprint identification or chemical training. Others may work with emergency response teams or SWAT teams, and others may work in the court system and in jails. One recent movement in policing is the idea of “community policing”, in which police officers fight crime by building trust within their patrol neighborhood.

Criminal Justice Degree Schools has over fifteen articles in it’s police career series as well as an law enforcement leader interview series and officer requirements for police departments by metro area to help our readers decide if this is a fitting career.

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Police Officer Requirements

As varied as the duties of a police officer are the educational requirements. The required education varies but 88% of respondents to a government jobs site survey indicated they had some college or a bachelor’s degree. Thus, most departments require at least a couple of years of college coursework such as an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Criminal Justice Degree Schools has an article on how to become a police officer.

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Besides education, there are other requirements a person must meet in order to become a police officer. A police officer candidate must be a U.S. citizen, be 21 years old, and meet rigorous physical criteria. This includes having stamina, agility, adequate vision and hearing and strength. In many cases, candidates that speak a second language are preferred. Further, those with military police experience are often placed at the front of the line in the hiring process.

Those in police officer jobs must have a personable demeanor and should enjoy working with people. Applicants must be honest, responsible, and demonstrate integrity. Backgrounds are investigated during the interview process. Some applicants are asked to undergo polygraph exams or submit to drug testing.

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Police Officer Training

Once hired, new police officers go through a training period. Recruits usually are trained at a police academy, for a period of approximately 3 months. The training they receive at the police academy includes classroom instruction on topics such as laws and the legal process and accident investigation. They receive hands-on training in traffic control, weapons use, first aid, and response to emergency situations.

How Much Do Police Officers Make?

Police officer salary ranges vary significantly, depending on whether a police officer works in a rural area or an urban setting, etc. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $54,230 for police and sheriff’s officers in the United States as of May 2011.1 The top 10% of police officers earned a median annual salary of $84,980.1 Earnings may increase significantly with overtime. Those in a police officer career typically enjoy benefits like paid vacation, sick leave, medical and life insurance, and uniform allowances.

Police Officer Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 7% nationally for police officers from 2010-2020.2 Request free information on how to become a cop or police officer.

Police Officer & Law Enforcement Related Degrees from Accredited Schools

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American InterContinental University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • B.S. in Justice Studies

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Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Criminal Justice Leadership & Executive Management - General Program
  • B.S. in Human Services - Criminal Justice 
  • Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration - Criminal Justice

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Keiser University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, BA
  • Criminal Justice, AA

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Criminal Justice
  • PhD - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Masters in Criminal Justice: Command College


References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Police-and-detectives.htm

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.