Law enforcement refers to the practice of authorized organizations, such as the police and federal agencies, to ensure rules are followed throughout society. There are no uniform academic requirements for employees in law enforcement agencies; entry-level jobs in the police force typically require a high school diploma, while prospective FBI agents must present evidence of higher education and relevant work experience. However, certain degrees will provide you with advanced knowledge and specialized skills relating to law enforcement issues.
Criminal justice bachelor's programs include courses that address ethical issues, police and society, correction and society, and crime control policy. Most courses provide general education in criminal justice, preparing students for work in a number of positions, including police, courts and correctional facilities. In addition, some criminal justice programs specialize in law enforcement for prospective police officers and federal agents and include courses like police report writing, firearms and precision driving.
The FBI has strict academic requirements for its agents and to be considered for an entry-level program, one of the critical skills you need to show is law experience. A three-year J.D. degree from an accredited law school, combined with relevant work experience, could be your key to securing a federal agent job.
Crime scene investigators, or CSIs, and scientists in laboratories of law enforcement agencies must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in forensic science, a term that applies to a broad range of sciences applied to analyze evidence. Forensic science professionals are only involved in obtaining information from evidence, so this degree is not a passport to all kinds of law enforcement positions, but it is a requirement if you want to be a CSI.
Other Relevant Areas
Law enforcement agencies' operations aren't limited in apprehending suspects or obtaining evidence from physical objects. Police departments and federal agencies also need finance, engineering, language and military experts to analyze cases of financial crimes, interpret suspect conversations, or test firearms and other equipment. Relevant degrees in business studies, mathematics and linguistics as well as participation in an ROTC program can open doors to specific opportunities within law enforcement that mesh with your specific skill set.
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