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Law Enforcement Management Career: Job Outlook & Requirements

Learn about the work responsibilities of a law enforcement manager. Explore what education and skills are necessary as well as employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Law Enforcement Manager

Law enforcement managers serve as the managerial head of a police force or law enforcement unit. As the head of a law enforcement division, this manager is the one ultimately responsible for the effective delivery of services to the community he or she serves. Typical duties include supervising lower-level managers, developing policy, implementing programs, evaluating and monitoring service delivery, and ensuring other local officials are involved in relevant decision-making processes.

Education Bachelor's degree in related field, master's degree preferred
Job Skills Communication and interpersonal skills, office software, exercise of authority
Median Salary (2015) $82,090 for first line supervisors of police and detectives
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% for for first line supervisors of police and detectives

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Necessary Education

A career in police administration requires at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, and a master's degree will likely improve your chances of obtaining a position. Coursework in public administration, business, criminal justice, or law enforcement would be an asset in beginning a career in law enforcement management. For full-time students, a bachelor's degree takes, on average, four years to obtain, and an advanced degree takes an additional year or two, depending on the program.

Skills Required

In addition to a relevant educational background, if you're seeking a career as a law enforcement manager, you should be able to work under physically and emotionally stressful conditions, have good communication and interpersonal skills, feel comfortable exercising authority over subordinates and be familiar with computers and basic office software. Depending on the agency and locality, there may be residency or citizenship requirements and other necessary certifications.

Career and Economic Outlook

Job growth in this field is expected to be 4% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Earnings will vary by the locality and agency of government for which these individuals work. The median annual salary for first-line supervisors of police and detectives was $82,090 in May 2015.

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Alternative Careers

Check out these other options in the field of law enforcement:

Police Officer

For those who want to help solve crimes and catch criminals but may not want management responsibilities, becoming a police officer may be a good career option. Police officers perform duties that include observing activities in an assigned area, assisting at crime scenes and in emergency situations, testifying at trials, apprehending suspects, completing report paperwork and issuing traffic tickets. Educational requirements are dependent on the police department and can range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related field. All police officers must also complete training at a department academy. The BLS predicts slower than average employment growth for police officers and detectives between 2014 and 2024, attributed mostly to local and state budgetary issues. In May of 2015, the BLS estimated that the median yearly salary of police officers was $60,270.

Correctional Officer Supervisor

If overseeing the activities of guards or other personnel in a correctional facility sounds interesting, consider becoming a supervisor of correctional officers. These supervisors provide direction to guards who monitor inmate actions, inspect living cells and make sure rules are followed. Supervisors may also produce statistical and budget reports, manage personnel issues and work on facility and procedural improvements. Correctional officers are required to complete a training program and supervisors usually gain experience working as a correctional officer before they are advanced to a management position. Additional educational requirements are dependent on the employer. Based on estimates from the BLS, first-line supervisors of correctional officers received a median annual income of $59,720 in 2015. The BLS also expects first-line supervisors of correctional officers to grow by 3% during the 2014-2024 decade.

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