Law enforcement is the branch of criminal justice charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order. The central function of law enforcement professionals is to ensure obedience to and conformance with the law, which includes the prevention, control and investigation of crime.
Completing a law enforcement program can help you better understand the process of crime prevention, defense, sentencing and supervision, while advancing your career options. An education in criminal justice will include information and techniques helpful to jobs ranging from corrections to the judicial system.
Most positions in law enforcement require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to qualify for employment. Whether you’re looking to become a cop or DEA agent, starting a degree program in law enforcement can be a great first step toward advancing your career.
With a wide variety of positions available — sheriff, bounty hunter, police officer, private investigator, Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) and more — individuals with degrees in criminal justice are in high demand.
The general term “law enforcement” can be broken out into several areas of specialty, each of which covers numerous careers and career opportunities. Let’s take a look at the five main branches that offer law enforcement jobs.
Professions that specialize in crime solving rather than prevention and control fall under crime investigation. This category includes homicide investigators, field investigators and detectives, as well as people whose efforts take place partly or mainly in laboratories, such as CSI and forensic specialists employed by police departments and federal agencies like the FBI, the CIA and Homeland Security.
Any profession that deals specifically with maintaining law and order and ensuring obedience with the law is considered public safety. Law enforcement agencies and professions exist at every level of government, including city, county, state, regional and federal. Local agencies include police departments and their personnel, such as police officers, SWAT squads and other uniformed law enforcement officers.
A significant portion of the crime prevention and control aspect of law enforcement on a federal level is controlled by agencies like the FBI, CIA, DEA, Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Marshals Service (part of the Department of Justice) and various Department of Homeland Security offices. Even U.S. Postal Inspectors can be considered contributors at the federal level to the growing field of crime prevention and control.
This category includes professions that specialize in analyzing evidence rather than preventing or solving crimes. It includes people whose efforts take place partly or mainly in laboratories, such as crime scene investigators and forensic specialists employed by police departments and federal agencies. Numerous career opportunities are available in the field of forensics.
Law enforcement extends well beyond police and other uniformed peace officers. The private sector plays an increasingly large role in this field, in areas as diverse as private security personnel and security consultants.