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Important Facts on a Police Career

A career as a police officer is a noble occupation -- but one that comes with risks. Police officers strive to protect their communities; they do so by tracking down criminals and investigating crimes, which can place them in danger. Individuals aspiring to work as police officers can find positions at the local and state level. There are some key requirements for this profession.

Education

Acquiring the right education is essential for those interested in becoming police officers. At a minimum, the aspiring police officer has to earn his high school diploma, although some departments require a couple of years of college education and, in some cases, a college degree. Police officers also have to take a exam to qualify for positions in many departments. For example, the Suffolk County, New York, Police Department requires its incoming officers to pass a written exam before earning a position in the department.

Job Outlook

The police field will experience average growth from 2008 through 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job prospects for police to grow by about 10 percent, which is the nationwide average for all occupations. However, the BLS points out that a retiring police force will result in jobs for incoming police officers. Federal and state jobs will be more competitive to land than local jobs.

Salaries in the police field depend on the level of the position. Police officers averaged a salary of $51,410 in May 2008, with state police officers earning the top salaries. Supervisory positions, such as detectives or police supervisors, came in at $75,490 in May 2008.

Responsibilities

Individuals working in the crime-fighting field take on a number of different responsibilities on any given day. Police officers issue citations and warnings to those breaking the law, respond to crimes, direct traffic and patrol areas by car or by foot. Not all tasks are in the field, however. Police officers also complete paperwork and other administrative tasks at their station. Police detectives focus on criminal investigations, collecting evidence from crime scenes, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and apprehending criminals.

Job-Related Dangers

A career as a police officer comes with an inherent risk. After all, police officers put their lives on the line to apprehend criminals and protect the community. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports that 1,626 police officers were killed in the line of duty between 2001 and 2011. Another 58,000 police officers become victims of assault every year, resulting in about 16,000 injuries.



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