Police Administration Career Information and Education Requirements

Sep 16, 2019

If you're a police officer looking to advance your career into a leadership position you should consider working towards a police administration role. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree for most of these positions--but many opt to continue their studies in graduate school--as well as the ability to develop budgets, sustain relationships with the community and manage police personnel.

Essential Information

Police administrators are typically responsible for overseeing a staff, department or police force, as well as developing budgets and managing community relationships. Some common job titles in police administration include chief of police, director of security operations and chief probation officer. These types of positions typically require a bachelor's or master's degree in law enforcement administration as well as several years of related work experience. An advanced degree may sometimes be substituted for experience.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree
Other Requirements Work experience in law enforcement
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for first-line supervisors of police and detectives
Mean Salary (2018)* $89,030 annually for first-line supervisors of police and detectives

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Police Administrators

A typical police administrative position, such as a police chief, is responsible for the hiring of police officers, sergeants and captains. Police chiefs make assessments about how each of these officer categories are performing as a whole. They also try to decrease crime by developing strong relationships with community members. Additionally, a police chief is responsible for developing a budget and working with other law enforcement agencies to help apprehend criminals who may have committed a crime in another state. Some other job titles in police administration include director of security operations and chief probation officer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of first-line supervisors of police and detectives could increase 5% from 2018-2028. Local law enforcement agencies provide the best opportunity for employment, and agencies located in densely populated urban areas generally have many openings. However, urban police departments have to deal with a greater amount of crime, which may deter prospective job applicants. The BLS reported that first-line supervisors of police and detectives earned an average of $93,100 as of May 2018.

Educational Requirements

Many police administration positions require that job applicants have at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or police administration and some years of work experience in law enforcement. The work experience requirement may be substituted with an advanced degree in police administration. Job applicants should understand common law enforcement practices and be familiar with laws at the local, state and federal level.

Bachelor's Degree

An undergraduate degree in law enforcement administration is generally open to prospective students from law enforcement backgrounds as well as those who have no law enforcement experience. A student enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in law enforcement learns about leadership, criminal behavior, social policy, community policing and ethics. Some law enforcement administration degree programs may also allow for minor areas of study.

Master's Degree

A master's degree program in police administration provides students with a specialized course of study in the field. The degree requires the completion of a thesis paper or capstone project during the final semester of enrollment. However, before a student begins on his or her project, a series of foundation and major area courses must first be completed. Foundation courses introduce theories and methods of research in criminal justice. Research courses also stress the importance of statistics. Core area classes cover topics such as police management, organizational behavior, leadership, ethics and budgeting.

Becoming a police administrator is a great way for a police officer to advance their career. As such, more advanced forms of schooling such as a bachelor's degree or a master's degree are usually required.

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