Although the minimum requirement to work as a police officer is usually a high school diploma or a two-year associate's degree in criminal justice with state certification, students can earn a four-year bachelor's degree in police management to enter the field or improve their employment prospects. The goal of these programs is to provide a basic understanding of the court system, police administration and routine law enforcement tasks. It's important to note that aspiring police officers must complete training and certification requirements in their respective states. Some schools offer certified training through an affiliated academy.
Bachelor's in Police Management
Coursework in a police management program emphasizes problem-solving skills within the police force itself and the communities that they serve. Basic police courses explore criminal procedure and law enforcement operations, while management courses discuss psychology, human resources, and organizational behavior issues in crime prevention. Most programs also emphasize teaching students how to handle emergency situations and how to apply first aid, as well as the practice of questioning witnesses and collecting evidence. These and other skills may be honed and tested through internships. Sample courses include:
- Constitutional law
- Law enforcement theory
- Evidence collection
- Probation and corrections
- Organizational management
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Most police officers can enter their field after being certified by the state they live in and earning a high school diploma or two-year degree, although federal law enforcement positions require a four-year degree. Those working as sheriffs may have to seek election. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for police officers and detectives will increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028, which is slower than average for other professions. The BLS reported that the median earnings for police and sheriff's patrol officers were $61,380 in 2018. In the same year, first-line supervisors of police and detectives earned median incomes of $89,030. The 2018 median earnings of detectives and criminal investigators were $81,920.
Applicants with a bachelor's degree in police management are often more competitive than candidates with only an associate's degree or high school diploma plus certification. These bachelor's degree programs teach management skills as well as law enforcement and criminal justice practices.