Law Enforcement & Police Jobs for People Without a Degree

It is possible to pursue a law enforcement career without earning a degree. There are many career options that only require academy training or a high school diploma. Continue reading for more information about those employment opportunities.

Career Options in Law Enforcement that Do Not Require a Degree

Law enforcement professionals contribute to the safety of people in society. They may provide regular surveillance of an assigned location or type of activity to prevent crime, or they may respond when a crime has occurred and apprehend the suspect. Other law enforcement professionals are involved in court proceedings and supervising inmates. Quite a few of these jobs don't require a degree, including the options profiled below.

Job Title Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Police and Detectives $61,600 4%
Correctional Officers and Jailers $42,820 4%
Fire Inspectors $56,130 6%
Private Detectives and Investigators $48,190 5%
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers $25,840 5%
Bailiffs $42,670 5%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Careers in Law Enforcement that Do Not Require a Degree

Police and Detectives

Police and detectives may be involved in talking to witnesses or suspects when a crime has been committed. They may also gather evidence. Detectives focus more on investigating specific types of crimes, while police patrol areas and respond to calls. A high school diploma is required, and police officers must also complete training at an academy. Although some senior positions or federal law enforcement careers do require a degree, there are many other opportunities to work as a police officer that do not.

Correctional Officers and Jailers

Correctional officers and jailers receive postsecondary training through their employer, but they do not need to earn a degree. They're responsible for people who have been arrested or convicted. They may transport suspects to and from jail, supervise them during activities and make reports about the inmates they monitor. They also work with other law enforcement professionals if a crime is committed in the prison they work at.

Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors may be involved with inspections or fire investigations. Investigations are conducted when a fire has occurred. These professionals typically have prior experience as a firefighter or law enforcement professional, and they may collect and review evidence, determine when arson is involved in a fire, provide legal evidence and reports to other law enforcement professionals and testify in court. Their career has a specific legal focus on investigating arson and explosions, and they do not need to have a degree.

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators work for clients who are seeking information. They may perform surveillance or find specific information about a person or company that's of interest to their client. They need a high school diploma, and they often have prior experience in law enforcement. In some cases, they may contribute to criminal investigations if a victim has been motivated to hire them for assistance, and they may also work with other law enforcement professionals if they discover evidence of a crime during their investigations.

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers normally need a high school diploma. Their work involves monitoring property or providing protection for a client. They may perform video surveillance as part of their duties, and they may also perform security checks. They may identify suspects and detain them until the police arrive, and they may need to testify in court. They communicate with other law enforcement professionals as needed regarding any threats to the security of their client.

Bailiffs

Bailiffs do not need a degree; they can enter their career field with a high school diploma. Bailiffs provide security in courtrooms. They ensure the safety of all present, and may also be involved in protecting the jury. As part of their duties, they assist the judge presiding over hearings in the courtroom and ensure that court proceedings run smoothly.


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