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DegreeQuery has written about numerous topics related to law enforcement. These posts come under the banners of criminal justice, legal studies, forensics, criminology, fraud analysis, cyber security, information assurance, intelligence analysis, and more. There are links to some of these posts at the conclusion of this report.

Therefore, it could any of a number of degrees that apply to a career in law enforcement. Securing a job in this field is unlike other jobs, for example, the business world. In the latter, you apply online, through a recruiting/placement agency or in person with the purpose of obtaining an interview. If selected, you attend the interview to convince the respective company or firm that they should hire you. There might be a drug test. A physical is not the norm unless the job requires some type of physical exertion, such as lifting. The process is two or three steps, excluding the possibility of multiple interviews within different departments or levels of seniority.

Law enforcement is a multi-step process. Failure at one step ends your chance of becoming a police officer, State Trooper, Federal Agent, or other position fighting crime.

Past Discretions

Your eligibility may begin years prior to considering a career in law enforcement. A past discretion can become one of the disqualifying elements in your application process.  For example, a felony conviction, deferred adjudication, less-than-honorable discharge from the military, drug abuse, criminal activity, a  history of drug addiction, and membership or affiliation with a street gang. Other disqualifiers could be drunk driving arrest, too many moving-traffic violations, citations, and/or misdemeanors.

Background Checks

The previous paragraph is applicable to most police departments. Federal Agencies perform a more meticulous check into your past. For example, all FBI employees must undergo their Background Investigation. To be considered for employment in federal law enforcement, you can anticipate a polygraph (lie-detector) examination, illegal drug use tests, as well as credit checks. In addition, there are typically  interviews, by current federal employees, with your past and present colleagues, friends, professors, and other associates, including neighbors. To avoid wasting their resources and your time, the FBI advocates that none of the potential eliminating factors apply.

Security clearance is one of the reasons for polygraph tests, psychological testing, and drug testing. The National Security Agency (NSA) requires candidates to undergo a written psychological examination and an in-person interview with an NSA psychologist.

The federal government has three classifications of security depending on the information you may be exposed to. The three levels are Non-Sensitive Positions, Public Trust Positions, and National Security Positions. All levels will involve a degree of investigation into your past. The thoroughness of the background examination varies based on the level of clearance the position requires. Lower levels of security clearances generally entail less intrusive investigations.

Appearance

It seemed like a great idea at the time to cover visible parts of your body with tattoos. This artwork and body piercings in visible places are impermissible with most police departments. If you have a visible forearm tattoo, you may have to wear a long sleeved shirts year round to hide the artwork. If applicable, you may have to medically remove tattoos on your neck, face or other exposed area of the body.

Application Packet

Applicants for prospective police officers usually receive an application packet that contains the instructions and requisite deadlines. The applicant should read the job announcement regarding the submission of specific documents. There may also be an official application form. The requested documents could include high school transcripts, certifications if required, college diplomas, and your military discharge papers. It is imperative to meet the deadline for submission of the paperwork.

Cover Letter and Resume

Your resume is a marketing communication. It needs to look and speak professionalism to the reader. A well-written resume will impress and it can be the ticket for your job interview. The resume typically requires a cover letter to accompany it. Law Enforcement places an emphasis on writing skills. Therefore, your cover letter might be assessed also as part of the screening process.

When a person or selection committee starts narrowing down a group of applicants, your cover letter and resume may result in your selection. This aspect of the hiring process may necessitate professional guidance.

Written Test

Depending on the rules of a particular law enforcement department, a written test may be required of all applicants. This is typically a multiple choice format to test your intellectual skills in different areas. Examples are math, spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, grammar, and how well you can write a summary on given information.

Additional Resources:

What are the Benefits of pursuing a Degree in Law Enforcement?

What courses can I expect in a Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement Leadership?

Why is a degree important in Law Enforcement?

Do I need a Criminal Justice Degree to work in Law Enforcement?