Continuing Education Options for Law Enforcement Professionals

Sep 21, 2019

There are many continuing education options for law enforcement professionals. These range from certification or certificate programs in specific topics (such as crisis intervention or child abuse investigation), to degree programs in relevant fields like criminology. This article provides more detail about courses and degrees available, where to find continuing education options, and some of the career paths that these education options are relevant for.

Essential Information

Local police academies, law enforcement agencies, colleges and universities offer continuing education options. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's (FLETC) also offers training through the Office of State and Local Training (OSL), which organizes and conducts the training programs through local and state agencies.

Career Law Enforcement Professionals
Education Requirements Certification programs for entry-level
Other Requirements Bachelor's and master's degrees for advanced levels
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for police and detectives
Median Salary (2015)* $61,380 for police and sheriff's patrol officers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Continuing Education Options

Required continuing education hours for law enforcement professionals vary by state and can cover a variety of subject areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many law enforcement agencies pay officers to pursue related degrees.


Annual firearms certification may consist of classroom and firing range instruction, as well as an assessment. State law enforcement training centers may also offer certification programs in crisis intervention, supervision, tracking, arson investigation and accident reconstruction. Government agencies, such as the OSL, offer training in other law enforcement areas, including cold case investigation, drug law enforcement and terrorist threat assessment.

Driving certification is another continuing education requirement. Other required topics include law enforcement procedure, self-defense instruction, sensitivity training, legal updates and use of force guidelines.

Certificate Programs

Community colleges and universities offer certificate programs in law enforcement areas like executive leadership, criminal investigation, detention, collision investigation and child abuse investigation. These programs are primarily available through continuing education departments for credit or non-credit.

Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in related areas, including criminal justice and criminology, can help law enforcement professionals prepare for advancement, such as a position with a federal agency. Coursework at this level may include social issues, criminal law, victim's rights, legal processes, research techniques, incarceration fundamentals and police administration.

Master's degree programs, including the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, may consist of advanced topics like correctional operations and law enforcement personnel management. Law enforcement professionals with these degrees can pursue correctional treatment specialist or other upper-level leadership positions.

Career and Salary Information

Job prospects and salary information for law enforcement agents can vary, but in most cases, job growth is expected to be slower than average from 2018 to 2028. Jobs for police officers and detectives are predicted to increase 5% during that same decade. Drilling down even further into law enforcement jobs data, the BLS reports expected a job decline of 3% for detectives and criminal investigators, growth of 2% for fish and game wardens, 5% for police and sheriff's patrol officers, and 4% for transit and railroad police.

The BLS reported that detectives and criminal investigators earned a median salary of $81,920 in 2018. Meanwhile, the agency reported that fish and game wardens earned a median salary of $57,710, police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median salary of $61,380, and transit and railroad police earned a median salary of $74,030.

Pursuing continuing education may be a requirement in some states. There are many options, and even if it is not required for a law enforcement professional, pursuing a certificate or degree may be beneficial. Courses, certificates and certification programs are designed to develop specific professional skills relevant to law enforcement professionals, from firearms to investigation and many topics in between.

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