Law enforcement officials are essential for keeping the peace in a community, protecting citizens and property, apprehending criminals, and preventing future crimes. In the United States, law enforcement professionals are employed at the local, county, state, and national levels of government. There are many different police jobs available at each level, including uniformed officers, security guards, detectives, dispatchers, and special agents.
The majority of police jobs are held by police officers, deputy sheriffs, and state troopers. Many local officers and deputy sheriffs perform regular patrols, conduct traffic stops, make arrests, and respond to emergency calls. State troopers often patrol highways to ensure safe driving and issue warnings and citations when necessary. Police chiefs and sheriffs supervise other officers and deputies, create schedules and beats, and handle internal affairs. To obtain most uniformed officer police jobs, people must hold at least high school diplomas and complete 12 to 14 week training courses at a local police academy.
There are several other types of police jobs at the local, county, and state levels of government. Dispatchers usually work in police stations, taking phone calls from people who require police assistance and informing officers where to go. Security guards protect citizens and property by patrolling designated areas, performing crowd control, and assisting other officers. Police trainers and educators provide instruction and general information to new officers and the general public.
Police detectives investigate crime scenes, perform surveillance on suspicious persons and places, interview witnesses, and interrogate suspects. They frequently work undercover, wearing civilian clothes so as not to draw attention to themselves. Detectives usually hold bachelor's degrees or higher in criminal justice or police science, and have experience in other police jobs.
Police jobs at the federal level are held by highly trained professionals in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Department of Homeland Security, among many other organizations. Federal agents may be responsible for patrolling United States borders, providing security for governmental officials, or investigating high profile crimes and criminals. Most practicing federal agents hold college degrees, complete rigorous training sessions, and have extensive law enforcement experience.
There is generally a very steady demand for new law enforcement professionals in many different police jobs. Large urban areas employ the most new police officers, detectives, and security guards, though growing small towns and stretches of busy highway require the services of skilled professionals as well. There is often strong competition for employment with federal agencies, and those candidates with the most education, experience, and specialized skills are selected.