The Police Officer Career and What You Need to Know
When you think of police officers, you probably think of an action-filled job that
involves protecting people or rescuing them from dangerous situations. While police
officers certainly do these things, police work isn't always that glamorous.
Police officers also do some rather dull and mundane things like paperwork, directing
traffic, responding to bogus domestic disputes, and other not-so-dangerous things. This is
why working as a police officer requires a range of skills, and police officers must be
ready to switch to emergency mode at any moment.
What Are Some Things Police Officers Do in a Typical Work Day?
Police officers do a variety of things, but some common job duties of a police officer are:
1. Arrest people with outstanding warrants
2. Interview witnesses and suspects
3. Testify in court
4. Do paperwork
5. Patrol high crime areas
6. Give traffic tickets
7. Direct traffic
Working as a police officer can be a very high stress job, because police officers
never know when they may be put in dangerous situations. You can be sitting at a desk
doing paperwork one moment, and then called to the scene of a dangerous crime the next.
Most police officers also work at least 40 hours per week, and shift can include nights
and weekends. Police work is a round-the-clock endeavor, and there must be officers on
duty at all times.
How Do I Prepare to Become a Police Officer?
Most of the time police officers must be U.S. citizens, though sometimes lawful
permanent residents may also become police officers. You must be in good physical shape
and display evidence of good moral character. At a minimum, you will need to have a high
school diploma and pass the required written and physical tests.
Some work experience in a related area like store security personnel, nightclub
bouncer, or bodyguard, will make it easier to get hired as police officer. Many local and
state police departments don't require a college degree, but may require some college
credits. Federal police agencies usually require a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement.
Upon hire, police agencies almost universally put newly hired officers through a
training academy or course to learn the basics of department procedures. Things like safe
handling of weapons and those in custody, and a variety of other procedural and safety
issues will be covered.
What's the Job Outlook for Police Officers?
The job outlook for police officers is decent, though growth will not be spectacular.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new job openings for
police officers is likely to increase about the same as the average for all other jobs
through 2016. Crime is an unfortunate fact of life, and police officers will continue to
play a vital role in protecting public safety.
While police officers are in demand, there is moderate competition for jobs because
many people look for the sense of challenge and reward that a career as a police officer
can provide. Local police departments will offer the best growth opportunities, and
candidates with experience in the military or related fields plus some college coursework
in police science will have better chances of getting hired.
Copywrite Kenneth Echie. Kenneth is a writer for
Criminal Justice Degrees.
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