Those who pursue a degree in public safety administration gain an understanding of the government's role in public safety and security. Undergraduate programs generally teach students how to prepare for and handle a variety of natural and social emergencies in the best interests of civilians. Concentrations for this program may include law enforcement administration or emergency management administration. Higher-level degree programs expand on that knowledge, and place emphasis on research and leadership skills. Following degree completion, some individuals need to obtain certification or licensure in order to work in particular professions.
Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Administration
In this program, students learn about regulations, policies and bureaucratic politics that affect public safety administration. Coursework includes emergency response and disaster preparedness planning, safety worker management and public communication. Students must have a high school diploma or GED to apply. Some schools may provide baccalaureate programs designed for current public safety officers who have college credits or who have earned an associate's degree that require only two years of coursework. Common course topics offered in both options include:
- Introduction to public administration
- Public safety administration practicum
- Terrorism preparedness
- Management and leadership principles
- Emergency management
- Public safety systems
Master's Degree in Public Safety Administration
This graduate program is designed for individuals who are interested in pursuing management or leadership roles within emergency response, fire safety or law enforcement agencies. Students learn about overseeing public safety organizations, organizing safety staff and communicating with the public. Programs emphasize finance, budgeting, law and ethics for public safety professionals. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree. Course examples include:
- Managing crises
- Social justice in public enforcement
- Research methods for public safety administrators
- Ideologies and counter-measures of terrorism
- Public safety laws
- Public safety ethics
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in public safety administration are eligible to apply for jobs in the fields of law enforcement, health safety management and public administration. Some examples of potential careers include:
- Law enforcement officer
- Public safety officer
- Public affairs specialist
- Fire marshal
- Security manager
To give some salary perspective, first-line supervisors of correctional officers earned a median annual income of $59,720 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Public safety administrators and managers work in local, state and federal government in areas including fire service, law enforcement and emergency response. According to the BLS in 2015, 42,520 individuals were supervisors and managers of correctional officers; and 58,110 worked as supervisors and managers of fire fighting and prevention workers (www.bls.gov). First-line supervisors of correctional officers should see a 3% growth over the 2014-2024 decade, while first-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers are expected to see a 5% growth, says the BLS. Potential careers for those with a graduate degree in public safety administration also include public policy analyst, fire and emergency services coordinator, homeland security analyst and critical infrastructure protection manager.
Police officers, fire fighters and emergency response technicians often have additional requirements for gaining certification or qualifying to work in their fields. Each field typically requires job applicants to undergo a rigorous physical examination as well as a background check. Some professionals are also required to complete a training program, such as a police academy, and a written examination before they can begin working for federal, state or local government agencies.
Bachelor's degree programs in public safety administration focus on regulations, policies, safety worker management and public safety systems. Master's students learn about leadership roles and overseeing staff and organizations within public safety jobs.