Do you dream of moving up the law enforcement ladder? If keeping records, developing policy and managing subordinates sounds like a good day at work, a career in law enforcement administration might be a sound bet. Law enforcement is a major division of the criminal justice system in the United States and offers abundant opportunities for a productive, well-paying and upwardly mobile career.
Jobs in law enforcement administration can be stepping stones for advancing in the ranks. Administrators must be able to implement cost-effective organizational policies while making wise, informed decisions that affect many people's lives. They must have excellent communication skills, be able to maintain constructive relations with the local community, and have keen problem-solving sensibilities.
Advanced positions include supervising officers, wardens, budget or data analysts, executive directors, commissioners and police chiefs, lieutenants, captains, deputy sheriffs and chiefs, and other senior officers.
Law enforcement jobs are normally in the public sector, although graduates also work for private business as security officers, investigators, consultants and loss prevention experts. Working for the government in this field usually means good salaries, union membership and extensive benefits.
Criminal justice is a hierarchical sphere in which people in different positions have fixed responsibilities, privileges and authority relative to both subordinates and superiors. Working in law enforcement management means having authority over subordinates, and that means being able to practice discretion, resolve interpersonal disputes, and earn officers' respect.
Supervisors and managers must inspire trust and commitment, helping to keep employee turnover low and morale high. At the same time, administrators must maintain efficiency and productivity, high ethical standards and, in some cases, profitability as they work to keep divisions and agencies running smoothly. These are the marks of a successful law enforcement leader.
Today's law enforcement administrators must reconcile liability, legal, jurisdictional and ethical concerns all at once. They need to be able to shoulder responsibility and communicate with community leaders when things go wrong.
Common managerial responsibilities are policy development, procurement, records management and dispatch. Police administrators usually work in the office, handling tasks such as legal filings, background searches, media communication, budgeting, procurement, personnel staffing, employee compensation, and officer discipline.
Administrators learn about the latest technology, troubleshoot organizational politics, and advance officer training with an eye towards overall policy priorities. They may also manage relationships with other major criminal justice fields. For example, some act as liaisons between courts and police agencies, ensuring due process and constitutional rights are being properly upheld.
Look for programs explicitly approved by the state's Commission on Law Enforcement Standards or by the specific police jurisdiction in which you intend to work. The best criminal justice schools will be recognized by the official certifying body of the host state.
Law enforcement administrators per se are not usually required to have a licence, although basic officer certification or licensing is always necessary to become a police officer en route to a career in enforcement administration.
A degree in this field can confer an advantage, although it is not generally required. For high-level administration jobs, an educational background looks better and better the further up the hierarchy you rank.
Educational requirements are usually lesser, however, for currently uniformed police officers, who have better access to leadership positions based on their organizational seniority. Active officers can often substitute their valuable on-the-job experience for civilian education requirements.
The best paying jobs are at the top of police organizations and at the state and federal levels, and these sometimes require postsecondary and even graduate-level studies. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is an example of a federal law enforcement agency with higher education requirements.
In general, commissioned officers seek either certificate training or a two-year associate's degree, whereas civilian job applicants, often held to a higher standard, may need at least a bachelor's for administrative employment.
In some jurisdictions, it's virtually impossible to get a job as a police administrator without having first graduated from the state's police academy. In these cases, commissioned officers with primary policing certification are desirable candidates for administration, provided they can handle the special stresses and concerns of managerial positions.
Officers should ask their current or preferred employer about training opportunities for internal advancement. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, for example, offers leadership training to police based on a West Point curriculum in partnership with individual agencies. Many programs are free or offered at a reduced tuition.
A useful list of law enforcement training links covering multiple jurisdictions can be found at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's website.
For current law enforcement officers, a college degree is primarily a tool for career advancement. To that end, an associate's program provides a basic professional background in the most common administrative systems, duties and procedures. Earning an associate's degree is a popular entry-level educational option for working officers. It's not unusual to see active-duty officers complete an Associate in criminal justice, public or business administration while still keeping their day job.
In some jurisdictions, administrative positions in law enforcement are open to qualified civilian members of the public. Administrative positions may demand higher levels of education if primary certification as a commissioned police officer is not a job prerequisite.
This unofficial civilian track to police administration typically involves earning a criminal justice degree with a concentration in business, organizational management, public management, or law enforcement administration - at least to the baccalaureate level.
Many students pursue formal schooling up the bachelor's level, but the more competitive option is a master's degree from one of the top criminal justice schools. A graduate degree is an opportunity to stand out as an administrative expert in a targeted area, like security or forensic science management, or a division like white-collar crime, organized crime, or homeland security investigations.
Opportunities for specialized law enforcement administration vary widely. Some common areas of focus include cyberforensics, forensic science, private security, homeland security, drug enforcement, investigations and homicide.
We found 381 schools offering criminal justice degree programs in the U.S.
|Abilene Christian University||Abilene||TX||4739|
|Aims Community College||Greeley||CO||6948|
|Allan Hancock College||Santa Maria||CA||12110|
|Allen County Community College||Iola||KS||1968|
|Antelope Valley College||Lancaster||CA||10315|
|Arapahoe Community College||Littleton||CO||7436|
|Arizona State University at the West Campus||Glendale||AZ||5325|
|Arkansas State University - Mountain Home||Mountain Home||AR||916|
|Barstow Community College||Barstow||CA||2785|
|Boise State University||Boise||ID||16287|
|Bossier Parish Community College||Bossier City||LA||4332|
|Brevard Community College||Cocoa||FL||13265|
|Brigham Young University||Provo||UT||32554|
|Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||ID||8949|
|Broward Community College||Fort Lauderdale||FL||27389|
|Bucks County Community College||Newtown||PA||8469|
|Caddo Kiowa Technology Center||Fort Cobb||OK||311|
|California State University - Bakersfield||Bakersfield||CA||6397|
|California State University - East Bay||Hayward||CA||12705|
|California State University - Fullerton||Fullerton||CA||28381|
|California State University - Long Beach||Long Beach||CA||30918|
|California State University - Los Angeles||Los Angeles||CA||19593|
|California State University - Sacramento||Sacramento||CA||25714|
|California State University - San Bernardino||San Bernardino||CA||14909|
|California State University - Stanislaus||Turlock||CA||7062|
|Calumet College of Saint Joseph||Whiting||IN||975|
|Campbell University Inc||Buies Creek||NC||5880|
|Central Florida Community College||Ocala||FL||5230|
|Central Missouri State University||Warrensburg||MO||10936|
|Central Oregon Community College||Bend||OR||4079|
|Central Wyoming College||Riverton||WY||1644|
|Cerro Coso Community College||Ridgecrest||CA||5106|
|Chaminade University of Honolulu||Honolulu||HI||2620|
|Chestnut Hill College||Philadelphia||PA||1561|
|Citadel Military College of South Carolina||Charleston||SC||3872|
|City College of San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||39386|
|Clark State Community College||Springfield||OH||2808|
|Cloud County Community College||Concordia||KS||2668|
|College of Marin||Kentfield||CA||8317|
|College of San Mateo||San Mateo||CA||10756|
|College of the Canyons||Santa Clarita||CA||10528|
|College of the Desert||Palm Desert||CA||6972|
|College of the Redwoods||Eureka||CA||6986|
|College of the Sequoias||Visalia||CA||10251|
|College of the Siskiyous||Weed||CA||2786|
|Collin County Community College District||Plano||TX||12996|
|Colorado Mountain College||Glenwood Springs||CO||7407|
|Colorado Northwestern Community College||Rangely||CO||1834|
|Columbia - Greene Community College||Hudson||NY||1598|
|Community College of Aurora||Aurora||CO||4642|
|Compton Community College||Compton||CA||6643|
|Concordia University - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor||MI||604|
|Contra Costa College||San Pablo||CA||7133|
|Copper Mountain College||Joshua Tree||CA||2172|
|Corning Community College||Corning||NY||4306|
|Cosumnes River College||Sacramento||CA||16493|
|Crafton Hills College||Yucaipa||CA||5054|
|Cuesta College||San Luis Obispo||CA||9496|
|Culver - Stockton College||Canton||MO||821|
|Cuny Graduate School and University Center||New York||NY||3567|
|Cuny John Jay College Criminal Justice||New York||NY||10612|
|Cuyamaca College||El Cajon||CA||6476|
|David N Myers University||Cleveland||OH||1227|
|Daytona Beach Community College||Daytona Beach||FL||10420|
|De Anza College||Cupertino||CA||22770|
|Delaware Valley College||Doylestown||PA||1833|
|Diablo Valley College||Pleasant Hill||CA||21581|
|East Georgia College||Swainsboro||GA||1313|
|East Los Angeles College||Monterey Park||CA||27199|
|East Tennessee State University||Johnson City||TN||11063|
|Eastern Arizona College||Thatcher||AZ||6223|
|Edison College||Fort Myers||FL||8919|
|El Camino College||Torrance||CA||24067|
|Erie Community College - City Campus||Buffalo||NY||2220|