Policing is a demanding job at all levels, from rookie patrol officers to experienced administrators. A degree program in law enforcement administration prepares you to advance through the ranks to positions with greater responsibilities and better pay. Here are some resources to help you learn more about a career in law enforcement administration.
Police administrators oversee a police agency's activities. They assume leadership roles like police chief, shift commander or lieutenant at local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Your duties as a law enforcement administrator might include coordinating criminal investigations, overseeing evidence handling, working with prosecutors when cases go to trial, educating officers about correct police protocols, investigating police misconduct complaints, handling public relations duties and setting budgets. As a police administrator, you must settle disputes with diplomacy and seek solutions to problems impacting the department and community
The BLS predicted job opportunities for police and sheriff's patrol officers to increase six percent from 2012-2022, which indicates slower than average growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that police administrators earned a median yearly salary of $78,270 as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov).
According to a survey by the International City/County Management Association, the average minimum yearly pay earned by a police chief as of January 2010 was $88,598, and the average of maximum salaries was $113,892 (www.icma.org). Deputy chiefs received $77,810 as an average minimum salary and $99,906 as an average maximum.
Police officers and administrators work for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as universities and transit systems that have police forces. Education and eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of law enforcement agency. A high school diploma or GED is typically the minimum requirement to get hired for an entry-level policing job at local and state police agencies. Some agencies may demand that you possess a degree or have studied at college for a year or two. Some degree program options for landing a job include law enforcement, criminal justice or police science.
A degree in law enforcement administration or a related management field gives you the skills and knowledge to assume a leadership role in policing. Programs are commonly available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, but you may also earn a master's degree to pursue advanced studies that could lead to promotions. Programs may be directed toward working police officers or toward both working and aspiring officers. Typical courses in undergraduate programs include police organization, multicultural and gender issues, internal affairs, crime prevention, leadership, policing procedures, crime investigation, criminal justice statistics and research, juvenile offenders, ethics, civil liability and criminal behavior.
As a police recruit, you receive training at your agency's police academy or at a state or regional police academy in basic police work. Federal law enforcement agencies have varying requirements, but you typically need a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience to get hired. The required testing, screening and background checks are stricter at the federal level. After becoming a federal agent, you receive training at a military base or a federal police agency facility. Advancement opportunities at law enforcement agencies are influenced by length of employment, job performance and promotional test scores.
Leadership abilities and strong people skills help you succeed as a law enforcement professional. This position requires strong written and oral communication skills. Police agencies want healthy and honest recruits. You must score well on competitive written tests and pass physical fitness exams. As a recruit, you can expect drug screenings, lie-detector tests and psychological exams.