The Ultimate Law Enforcement Career List for 2017 (With Salaries)

 

Building a career in law enforcement is a challenging and rewarding task at the same time. Sworn law enforcement officers have the authority to carry firearms, make arrests and have taken an oath to enforce the law. Different officers have various job titles, career opportunities and duties that we will summarize in our guide below.

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the United States Department of Labor in 2014 there were 3,44,3800 people in protective service occupations and the projected number for 2024 is 3,597,700, which means 4.5% growth. That is lower than the average for the country. The demand however, varies according to the specific career within law enforcement you would like to pursue. While the demand for police officers and detectives is expected to raise by 4% for the same period (2014-2024), the need for more specialized experts, especially in the field of Information and Technology will be much greater. The demand for Cybersecurity Specialists is expected to increase by more than 25% and for Information Security Analysts by 37%. Therefore, we can say that employment opportunities in the law enforcement sector will be available for those who pursue them and prepare properly for the exams and interviews associated with the job.

 

Have a look at the law enforcement career list below to find the job that best matches your interests and skills. Once you decide, you can start browsing the Law Enforcement Job Openings available.

 

Law enforcement career list by type of job

Law enforcement career list by type of job

A law enforcement officer can occupy three basic types of jobs: uniformed officer, investigator/detective and support staff. The daily activities and duties of police officers and detectives differ according to their specialty however they all have one thing in come in addition to keeping us safe: writing reports and maintaining well-kept records of the incidents they deal with. This is of particular importance when they have to testify in court, for example. Here are a few details about each type of job, that you might be interested in.

 

Uniformed officers

Uniformed police officers have an enforcement role. Their general law enforcement duties and responsibilities include regular patrols as well as responding to calls for service. Other duties include directing traffic at a place of an accident, giving first aid to victims or investigating burglaries. Doing paperwork and responding to calls also takes up a great part of their working day.

 

In smaller towns the uniformed police officer may patrol alone but in some areas, especially larger urban areas, this can be done with a partner. The larger police agencies are organized into districts/precincts and each patrolling officer has a specific region to cover. The officers become familiar with their patrol area and while on patrol they remain alert for anything that looks unusual or suspicious. While on shift, the uniformed officer may identify, pursue and arrest suspected criminals, resolve community problems, respond to domestic violence incidents, etc. Many urban police agencies practice the so called "community policing" - an officer builds relationship with the citizens of a neighborhood and mobilizes them to assist in fighting crime by learning what to watch for be providing information to the police.

 

Uniformed police officers may also have some investigative functions , however, a police agency usually has a separate investigative division. A police officer is usually promoted to these investigative positions as a result of their good work and qualifications.

 

Examples of uniformed officer jobs include:

Investigators and detectives (plainclothes officers)

The second large branch of law enforcement career opportunities includes the investigators, detectives, and special agents, or the so called plainclothes officers. Detectives gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They conduct interviews with suspects and witnesses, participate in suspect observations and in raids and arrests. Some detectives are part of interagency task forces that deal with specific crimes such as fraud, human trafficking, drugs, etc. Each detective is assigned to a specific case on a rotating basis and works on it until it is resolved with an arrest and possible trial. In police agencies uniformed police officers can become investigators through promotion or advancement. In other specialized criminal investigation agencies, such as FBI or the Secret Service, you may be hired directly to work in an investigative division as a Special Agent.

 

Some job examples for plainclothes officers include:

Support Positions

The support positions in law enforcement are as important as the uniformed and plainclothes officers. Usually these are professionals who support the investigation and deal with things like categorizing evidence, ballistic tests and exams, lab tests and experiments. For example, the person in charge of inventorying the evidence is called an evidence technician who might have been hired for this role. Often the support positions are with larger agencies or crime labs. The job openings are filled by personnel hired specifically to do that job or by officers and agents who have advanced in their career.

If you want to occupy one of the law enforcement support positions, you may choose between:

Levels of operation in the law enforcement career list

Levels of operation in the law enforcement

All three types of law enforcement jobs listed above are utilized at all three government levels of law enforcement agencies. The three basic levels are local, state and federal, and county level can be added as an additional or complimentary level to the local. The duties and responsibilities of all officers differ depending on their specific position and the level at which they operate. Below you can find the basic details of the responsibilities of a law enforcement officer at each level.

 

Local

At a local level uniformed officers and detectives are responsible for enforcing the law in a certain area, town or city. They pursue and apprehend individuals who break the law, investigate burglaries and homicides and any suspicious activity they notice. Uniformed police officers patrol, respond to calls and may be in charge of traffic direction at a crime scene, while detective gather evidence and conduct interviews until the case is resolved. 

 

County

Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs are the law enforcement officers that are responsible on the county level. Sheriffs perform duties on enforcing the law that are similar to local police chief. The difference is that they are usually elected to their posts. The sheriff deputies also provide security in county courts and as such are sometimes referred to as bailiffs.

 

State

State police officers or state troopers are those who patrol on the highways and are in charge of motor vehicle laws. Their main tasks include issuing traffic citations, directing traffic at crime scenes and giving first aid to accident victims. State police officers often assist other law enforcement agencies. They also have court-related duties, answer to calls, perform investigative or administrative work.

 

Federal

There are many agencies that operate at federal level.

All law enforcement officers, regardless of their specific job title or level at which they work, should keep immaculate paperwork. They are responsible for writing reports and keeping records of all accidents as these might be necessary if they testify in court.

 

Basic salary information in law enforcement

Law enforcement salary information

The information about the salary in the law enforcement sector differs significantly depending on the type of job and level of operation. Furthermore, the average salary for people with jobs in law enforcement can be summarized by years of experience, state, city, name of employer, etc. Therefore, make sure to check the official law enforcement website with job listings for specific details on how to apply, what qualifications you need and what salary you should expect. A good reference for the salary information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Career Profiles where you can find statistical data about the job you are interested in.

 

Here are some figures that can help you.

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average wage in the field of protective service for 2014 was $37,180. The national occupation and wage estimates as of May 2016 provide the following figures for the protective services occupations:

 

Job Title

Annual Medium Income

Protective Service Occupations 38,660
Supervisors of Protective Service Workers 67,430
First-Line Supervisors of Law Enforcement Workers 77,500
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers 60,560
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 84,840
First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers 74,540
Miscellaneous First-Line Supervisors, Protective Service Workers 47,820
First-Line Supervisors of Protective Service Workers, All Other 47,820
Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers 48,290
Firefighters 48,030
Fire Inspectors 56,130
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 58,440
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists 36,230
Law Enforcement Workers 53,240
Bailiffs, Correctional Officers, and Jailers 42,820
Bailiffs 42,670
Correctional Officers and Jailers 42,820
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 78,120
Fish and Game Wardens 51,730
Parking Enforcement Workers 37,950
Police Officers 59,750
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 59,680
Transit and Railroad Police 66,610
Other Protective Service Workers 25,960
Animal Control Workers 34,550
Private Detectives and Investigators 48,190
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers 25,840
Gaming Surveillance Officers and Gaming Investigators 32,630
Security Guards 25,770
Miscellaneous Protective Service Workers 25,020
Crossing Guards 26,700
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers 20,290
Transportation Security Screeners 39,680
Protective Service Workers, All Other 28,720

 

Source: May 2016 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics