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How to Become a Safety Officer: Promoting Peaceful Communities

Providing protection and security for communities is the work of safety officers (also known as police officers). From helping people in medical emergencies to enforcing traffic laws, safety officers work to ensure that the citizens of their jurisdiction have their rights protected while also meeting their responsibilities. There are a broad variety of tasks that are performed by police officers. In addition to assisting citizens and protecting the public, police officers also need to keep detailed records of their activities and fill out reports for incidents and arrests. Learn more about these law enforcement professionals.

Safety Officer Education Degree Requirements

To secure a position as a police officer, you typically need to join a training academy. However, an increasing number of jurisdictions, particularly metropolitan, county (parish), and state agencies, are asking that applicants have at least some college. Two-year and four-year degrees in criminal justice or a related field are usually preferred and may help safety officers advance in their career.

In addition to your training at the academy, flexibility may be advantageous as officers need to respond to diverse calls to meet the needs of citizens. Strong leadership skills and good judgment are helpful for taking command of tense situations and applying sanctions appropriately. Interpersonal skills may also be useful for dealing with the public and other law enforcement professionals.

Becoming a Safety Officer: Career Outlook

A safety officer spends most of their shift on patrol. However, they will also typically have a desk or an office to complete paperwork. For less populated jurisdictions, an officer might patrol alone. In more densely populated areas, officers may patrol as a team of two or more. Particularly at the beginning of their careers, many police officers are scheduled for shifts at night, on weekends or on holidays. They may also work extra shifts for paid overtime. Most jurisdictions have a probationary period for new officers. After completing the probationary period, the officer then becomes eligible for promotions.

In the coming decade, employment for police officers is expected to grow slower than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the total number of new jobs will not likely keep pace with that of other occupations, the relatively low retirement age of police officers will generally result in strong employment prospects for applicants who have formal educational training. For police and sheriff’s patrol officers, the median annual wage was $54,230 in 2011. Usually, a police officer needs excellent reviews from superiors and must pass a written exam to advance in the force. Some police officers advance to become detectives. However, most move to supervisory positions within the force, overseeing the work of other officers.

Certain regions that are experiencing population growth, namely the south and west, will generally provide the best employment opportunities. However, job prospects will likely be strong overall due to the relatively low retirement age for police officers and those who advance to other positions or leave the force. Becoming a safety officer can be your start to a service oriented career. Search for criminal justice schools today!

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