Job opportunities in most local police departments will be favorable for qualified individuals, whereas competition is expected for jobs in State and Federal agencies. As fast as average employment growth is expected.
Employment of police and detectives is expected to grow 10 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Population growth is the main source of demand for police services.
Overall opportunities in local police departments will be favorable for individuals who meet the psychological, personal, and physical qualifications. In addition to openings from employment growth, many openings will be created by the need to replace workers who retire and those who leave local agencies for Federal jobs and private-sector security jobs. Jobs in local police departments that offer relatively low salaries, or those in urban communities in which the crime rate is relatively high, may be the easiest to get. Some smaller departments may have fewer opportunities as budgets limit the ability to hire additional officers. Bilingual applicants with military experience or college training in police science will have the best opportunities in local and State departments.
There will be more competition for jobs in Federal and State law enforcement agencies than for jobs in local agencies. Bilingual applicants with a bachelor's degree and several years of law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, will have the best opportunities in Federal agencies.
The level of government spending determines the level of employment for police and detectives. The number of job opportunities, therefore, can vary from year to year and from place to place. Layoffs are rare because retirements enable most staffing cuts to be handled through attrition. Trained law enforcement officers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts usually have little difficulty finding jobs with other agencies.
Police and detectives held about 883,600 jobs in 2008. About 79 percent were employed by local governments. State police agencies employed about 11 percent. Various Federal agencies employ police and detectives.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, police and detectives employed by local governments worked primarily in cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants. Some cities have very large police forces, while thousands of small communities employ fewer than 25 officers each.
Job Zone 3 - Medium preparation
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have gone through an apprenticeship program or several years of vocational training to perform the job.
Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training, including both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.
Dental assistants, electricians, fish and game wardens, legal secretaries, personnel recruiters and recreational workers.
These occupations often involve using communication and organization skills to manage and train others.
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Information about entry requirements may be obtained from Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
To find Federal, State, and local law enforcement job fairs and other recruiting events across the country, contact:
- National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association, PO Box 17132, Arlington, VA 22216. Internet: http://www.nlera.org
For general information about sheriffs and to learn more about the National Sheriffs' Association scholarship, contact:
For information about chiefs of police, contact:
- International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Internet: http://www.theiacp.org
Information related to Federal law enforcement:
- Information about qualifications for employment as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent is available from the nearest State FBI office. The address and phone number are listed in the local telephone directory. Internet: http://www.fbi.gov
- Information on career opportunities, qualifications, and training for U.S. Secret Service Special Agents and Uniformed Officers is available from the Secret Service Personnel Division at (202) 406-5830, (888) 813-877, (888) 813-USSS, or U.S. Secret Services, Recruitment and Hiring Coordination Center, 245 Murray Dr., Building 410, Washington, DC 20223. Internet: http://www.secretservice.gov/join
- Information about qualifications for employment as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent is available from the nearest DEA office, DEA Office of Personnel, 8701 Morrissette Dr., Springfield, VA 22152, or call (800) DEA-4288. Internet: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea
Information about jobs in other Federal law enforcement agencies is available from:
- U.S. Marshals Service, Human Resources Division—Law Enforcement Recruiting, Washington, DC 20530-1000. Internet: http://www.usmarshals.gov
- U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Office of Governmental and Public Affairs, 99 New York Ave. NE. Mail Stop 5S144, Washington, DC 20226. Internet: http://www.atf.gov
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20229. Internet: http://www.cbp.gov
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528. Internet: http://www.dhs.gov
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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