Career Information for a Degree in Law Enforcement Administration

Law enforcement officers seeking promotion to supervisory roles could study in programs that are designed to develop the skills necessary for leadership. A degree in law enforcement administration can prepare officers to take a leadership role in a police organization, preparing them for careers as customs and border protection supervisors, police supervisors and sheriffs.

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What Is a Degree in Law Enforcement Administration?

Law enforcement administration degree programs prepare people to manage police and other security officers as effective supervisors and leaders. These programs commonly grant certificates, associate degrees or bachelor's degrees. Students, many of whom may already be working police officers or have law enforcement experience, learn how to manage personnel, file reports, supervise crime prevention efforts and lead teams. Other required courses might include sociology, management, psychology and behavioral science.

Career Information

Police Supervisor

Police supervisors, with titles like patrol sergeant, police lieutenant or detective, are responsible for completing departmental paperwork, delegating assignments, enforcing policy and ensuring the safety of subordinate officers. Supervisors also coordinate and plan the movements of the division they manage and select teams to work on investigations. Supervisors who have the rank of sergeant can be promoted to lieutenant, commander or chief.

Law enforcement as a career field was expected to experience seven percent growth from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual income for police supervisors as of 2012 was $78,270 (www.bls.gov).

Sheriff

Sheriffs oversee deputies and coordinate law enforcement efforts at the county level. Sheriff's departments tend to be relatively small, because many law enforcement duties within each county are carried out by municipal police departments. Sheriffs and their deputies patrol unincorporated areas within county limits, manage county jails and provide extra law enforcement assistance to city police departments. Sheriffs must be strong leaders and have excellent interpersonal skills.

A sheriff is usually elected on a county-wide ballot. While the BLS doesn't give pay data specifically for sheriffs, local police supervisors, which is a similar position, made an average of $79,490, according to the 2012 report.

Customs and Border Protection Supervisors

Customs and border protection falls under the control of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Both in-country and abroad, DHS agents are responsible for protecting the borders and interests of the United States. They monitor and control illegal movements of people and goods across U.S. borders. As federal employees, they must be U.S. citizens and able to pass appropriate background checks. For some positions, fluency in a second language may be required. Promotion to leadership positions are typically awarded based on merit, though experience and education could be beneficial.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protections division of DHS, the advancement potential into supervisory roles for border patrol agents was expected to remain favorable (www.cbp.gov). Entry-level jobs start at the GL-5 grade. Supervisory roles start as the GS-12 level (www.cbp.gov). The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reported starting salaries for supervisor positions were listed at $57,709 for a GS-12 up to $95,390 for a GS-15 (www.opm.gov)

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