It’s no secret that law enforcement is a demanding profession. Police officers work long, sometimes thankless, days with many regularly exposed to dangerous environments. Often, however, the challenge is part of the appeal. Law enforcement officials relish in the opportunity to prove themselves in an exciting, ever-changing field — and one in which their efforts make a clear difference in their community.
Given the inherent challenges of law enforcement, thorough preparation is absolutely essential. While there are multiple paths to success, a greater range of opportunities is available to those who seek an undergraduate education before entering the field. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice can open up a broad spectrum of opportunities for aspiring police officers and detectives — especially accompanied by a Law Enforcement concentration.
Post University Criminal Justice Program co-Chair Sandra Wilson, JD, explains that for many students the Law Enforcement concentration represents “a natural step into the field.” Students learn about the history of law enforcement, community policing, juvenile delinquency, and more. They are taught by some of the field’s most admired professionals, including chiefs of police and other highly-ranked law enforcement officials.
Are you interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement but not quite sure what it takes to succeed? Read on to learn more about one of your best paths to a rewarding career:
Students with the Law Enforcement concentration begin their postsecondary journey with a variety of general education courses. General education helps students develop a wide array of skills critical to success not only in law enforcement, but also across a myriad of professions. From college writing to computing and even fine arts, general education allows students to increase their breadth of understanding, eventually linking their newfound knowledge across fields to their Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement courses.
In addition to fulfilling general education requirements, students seeking a concentration in Law Enforcement will complete core courses for the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program. These classes help students develop a thorough understanding of the criminal justice field. This will serve them well as they later delve into their Law Enforcement concentration. The program’s core includes such essentials as:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Ethics & Discretion in Criminal Justice
- Statistical Methods in Criminal Justice
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Theoretical Criminology
These courses are completed by all Criminal Justice students, regardless of their concentration. Additionally, students complete an Advanced Seminar and electives at the 300 or 400 level. With the Law Enforcement concentration, students delve into topics that specifically prepare them to work as police officers or detectives. These include:
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Juvenile Justice
- White Collar Crime
- Police Administration and Management
- Introduction to Law
Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
Some of these courses overlap with other disciplines . For example, students concentrating in Legal Studies also enroll in Introduction to Law.
As with all concentrations offered within the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program, the Law Enforcement concentration offers classes both in-person and online. This allows working students or those otherwise unable to attend on-campus classes to make significant progress towards graduation.
While the Law Enforcement concentration largely seeks to prepare aspiring police officers for success in the field, instructors recognize that there are many facets to a quality Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement education.
“Some students go on to law school,” says Wilson. “Some students just want to utilize the degree as a stepping stone to the next level. Like they’re already in the field and they want to get a promotion.”
Ideally, students will emerge not only possessing the skills needed to secure work and advance in the field, but also a detailed understanding of the many ways in which law enforcement professionals impact society.
In general, students should thoroughly understand the intricacies of the United States criminal justice system upon graduation. Specifically, they should have a better idea of the role they may soon play within that system. By the time they graduate, students will have studied the Constitution in-depth — and they will have applied this newfound understanding to a variety of contemporary issues.
Job Opportunities and Outlook
“When a student thinks about law enforcement,” says Wilson, “it’s important they understand the options available to them. They can have a career on so many different levels — municipal police, state police, federal. We have several students that have explored on all levels and they’ve been successful.
The primary goal of the Law Enforcement concentration is to prepare students for success as law enforcement officials. Upon graduation, many move promptly into police work. The outlook in this field is promising, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that the profession will add 53,400 new jobs between 2016 and 2026.
Numerous opportunities for advancement exist within the law enforcement profession. Those who show considerable promise may move up the ranks to supervisory positions, sometimes just five years after entering the field. Often, the first big promotion involves advancement to first-line supervisor, which, as its name suggests, involves the direct supervision of police officers.
Are you ready to take your first step towards a rewarding career in law enforcement? Extensive academic training will thoroughly prepare you for the many challenges that lie ahead. With proper preparation, you can make a discernible difference in your community.