Law Enforcement Jobs Are Closer than You Think!

If you have dreamed of clipping on a shield and working with the local or state police force, law enforcement jobs are closer than you may think. Many entry-level positions require only a high school diploma or GED equivalent to get started. At the most, you may need to complete an associate degree in the field, which is an obtainable degree that takes between one and two years to complete. If you are not interested in further education, many entry-level jobs in law enforcement do not require more than a high school diploma. Embark on your dream career in law enforcement now, as competition and entry requirements change frequently and are state-mandated affairs.

If you do not have past work experience with the military or an affiliated career, you may gain entrance to some police academies with a high school diploma or equivalent if you are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. Check with your state, as the eligibility requirements vary and are state, not locally, mandated. You must also be a U.S. citizen eligible for hire within the U.S., have a clear record free of any convictions, and speak English fluently. Potential candidates for most law enforcement jobs are required to be drug free and physically and mentally fit for duty.

Getting on the police force may be an accessible option using your past employment as an entry ticket. Your employment history can make a huge difference in your training time and police readiness if you are not a fresh high school graduate. Many large cities have programs tailored to adults who are transitioning from a parallel career field, such as the military. Retired military programs may provide an abbreviated training option, reducing the time spent at the police academy. Areas of experience within criminal justice and law enforcement may also be used in lieu of college credits, if this is a requirement for joining the force or application to an academy.

Recent high school graduates may want to consider joining a corps of cadets with the local police force. In larger cities, such as New York, you may even get paid to work part time within the police force as a cadet. There may be age restrictions; check with your local police department for eligibility requirements. This time is well spent for those wishing to start a law enforcement job after graduation, or for individuals who must wait until they are twenty-one years of age to join the force.

Although competition is keen, the highest state-mandated level of education required at the police academy is an associate degree. Obtaining an associate degree in criminal justice is a perfect starting point for any career in law enforcement. This springboard can help you build your education, as you can pursue higher degrees, such as a bachelor's or master's in criminal justice, down the road. If you enroll in a traditional brick-and-mortar school, it will take about two years to achieve an associate degree. However, if you are interested in taking online courses, you may be able to obtain the degree slightly quicker.

Many people lack the finances, time, or even the mental capacity to return to school for post-secondary degrees. If this is the case, you may want to consider entry-level jobs within law enforcement. The options are not as plentiful as for individuals holding a degree; however, it is a starting point that may have many advancement opportunities in your future. Some law enforcement jobs require only a high school diploma or GED equivalent, while others may require certification courses for entry. Consider a career as a crime scene technician, firefighter, security guard, or private investigator for non-degreed options to start.

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