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What degrees do you have to have in order to get started in law enforcement?

Law enforcement is a career I am interested in. I know I'm going to college so I need to know what degrees I would need to get started in law enforcement. #police #criminal-justice #law-enforcement

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Robert’s Answer

Hi Trinity,


While many agencies do not require a college degree, most would their prefer their candidates have one or have at least completed some college. Having a college degree not only shows a commitment to self-improvement, but it shows that a prospective candidate is teachable and willing to learn. Law enforcement is a dynamic field that (as recent events have shown) is always changing and law enforcement officers (LEO's) need to be willing to accept change and adapt to their environments. In addition, the college experience exposes candidates to diverse communities and differing points of view that can only aid you in dealing with issues you may encounter while in the field. Heck, once you get to college, you may decide that you want pursue another career field. That being said, there is no set degree that would improve your chances at being a successful LEO, but I would recommend one in a field other than criminal justice. Some reason(s)? You may decide, after you are exposed to what being a LEO requires, that the career is not for you. Or, you may suffer an on the job injury that ends your career. In which case, you may want something to fall back on as an alternate career choice. Or, you may find that your degree field fits a particular need while working as a LEO (i.e., computer science, accounting, foreign language(s), etc.).
I would also suggest, if you haven't already, that you enroll in the explorer or cadet corps at your local police/sheriff departments or school. That would expose you to practical training and some of the incidents that LEO's experience.
I have been involved in the recruiting and hiring of Police Officers for many years. When I see applicants going through the testing process, I look at their life experience, education, work history, ability to reason, flexibility and their commitment patterns. Most of the time, I have found that the best candidates have a college degree and a solid work history. That does not mean that the other criteria are not important, but I find those two as common denominators.
I hope this helps and I wish you luck!
-Robert

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Scott D.’s Answer

Most local law enforcement agencies do not require any college at all. However, almost all of them have an entrance exam and individuals with college degrees tend to do better on those and this is what gets them in the door. We get a lot of individuals entering the academy with degrees in criminal justice but we also get a lot with other degrees as well. Even though none of our agencies require a 4 year degree, our entering classes generally have persons with 4 year degrees at a rate of 60 to 70 percent. Also, if it is your long term goal of obtaining employment in one of the federal investigative agencies you will need the 4 year degree.

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Chris’s Answer

There really is no college degree that will prepare you for a career in law enforcement. However, I am a proponent of higher education. If you are more inclined to investigative areas I would suggest any of the Behavioral Sciences. If you are more computer savvy, Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity will continue to be huge for years to come.

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Mike’s Answer

Area of education that may assist you are criminal justice, communications, business. A degree in any field is a plus and will help you in the process.

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