Career Information for a Degree in Law Enforcement Administration

Sep 26, 2019

A degree in law enforcement administration can prepare individuals to become police supervisors, customs and border patrol agents or sheriffs. Although postsecondary training is not necessarily required to be a sheriff, it is usually preferred. Police supervisors and customs and border patrol agents must have a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Law enforcement administration degree programs prepare people to manage police and other security officers as effective supervisors and leaders. These programs commonly grant certificates, associate degrees or bachelor's degrees. Students, many of whom may already be working police officers or have law enforcement experience, learn how to manage personnel, file reports, supervise crime prevention efforts and lead teams. Other required courses might include sociology, management, psychology and behavioral science.

Career Police Supervisor Sheriff Customs and Border Protection Supervisors
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree preferred Some postsecondary education may be required Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Police work experience Police training academy Relevant work experience
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for first-line supervisors of police and detectives 5% 5% for first-line supervisors of police and detectives
Median Salary (2018)* $89,030 $61,380 $128,680 first-line supervisors of police and detectives working for the federal government

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Law enforcement officers seeking promotion to supervisory roles could study in programs that are designed to develop the skills necessary for leadership. A degree in law enforcement administration can prepare officers to take a leadership role in a police organization, preparing them for careers as customs and border protection supervisors, police supervisors and sheriffs.

Police Supervisor

Police supervisors, with titles like patrol sergeant, police lieutenant or detective, are responsible for completing departmental paperwork, delegating assignments, enforcing policy and ensuring the safety of subordinate officers. Supervisors also coordinate and plan the movements of the division they manage and select teams to work on investigations. Supervisors who have the rank of sergeant can be promoted to lieutenant, commander or chief.

The number of employment opportunities for first-line supervisors of police and detectives was expected to increase 4% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual income for police supervisors as of 2015 was $85,810 (


Sheriffs oversee deputies and coordinate law enforcement efforts at the county level. Sheriff's departments tend to be relatively small, because many law enforcement duties within each county are carried out by municipal police departments. Sheriffs and their deputies patrol unincorporated areas within county limits, manage county jails and provide extra law enforcement assistance to city police departments. Sheriffs must be strong leaders and have excellent interpersonal skills.

A sheriff is usually elected on a county-wide ballot. The BLS reported that sheriffs made a mean salary of $65,400 in 2018. The BLS also reported as fast as the average job growth from 2018 to 2028 for sheriffs.

Customs and Border Protection Supervisors

Customs and border protection falls under the control of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Both in-country and abroad, DHS agents are responsible for protecting the borders and interests of the United States. They monitor and control illegal movements of people and goods across U.S. borders. As federal employees, they must be U.S. citizens and able to pass appropriate background checks. For some positions, fluency in a second language may be required. Promotion to leadership positions are typically awarded based on merit, though experience and education could be beneficial.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protections division of DHS, the advancement potential into supervisory roles for border patrol agents was expected to remain favorable ( Entry-level jobs start at the GL-5 grade. Supervisory roles start as the GS-12 level ( While the BLS did not report a specific salary or job growth report for customs and borders protection supervisors, it reported an average increase for jobs in the area of law enforcement supervision. The BLS reported that first-line supervisors of police and detectives that work for the federal government earned an mean annual salary of $128,680 or $61.87 per hour, in May 2018.

A degree in law enforcement administration prepares individuals to pursue supervisory roles in law enforcement; careers include police supervisors, sheriffs and customs and border agents. In addition to postsecondary education, the job requirements may include passing a criminal background check and being a U.S. citizen. The job growth for these professionals is expected to be as fast as the average from 2018 to 2028.

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