Transit Police Officer: Career Info & Requirements

Learn what transit police officers do. Find out the education and training requirements for this job. Get the details about job prospects and the earning potential for transit police officers.

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Career Definition

A transit police officer is a specialized agent employed by a railroad, bus or other transit company who investigates crimes committed against the company or by or against its passengers. Transit police officers may handle such crimes as trespassing, assault, robbery, ticket fraud and drug dealing. Some transit police officers work directly for transit companies, while others are part of a special unit of the local police force and have all the powers and responsibilities of non-transit officers.

Become a Transit Police Officer

Required Education

The training required for a career as a transit police officer varies greatly by company, but in general, a high school diploma or GED is required to begin training. Some transit companies, such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (www.wmata.com), require more than 1,000 hours of academic and performance training, while others require less than 100 hours. Training to become a transit police officer is usually carried out by the transit authority itself and includes classes in first aid, defensive tactics, practical exercises and firearms training.

Skills Required

A transit police officer must possess excellent deductive reasoning, communication and writing skills and work well in stressful situations. Transit police officers also must be in good physical health and be able to pass both agility and psychological tests.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the mean annual wage for transit police officers was $55,210 as of May 2012. Benefits for transit police officers commonly include insurance, retirement programs and free travel. However, the BLS notes that the number of jobs for transit and railroad police officers is expected to grow only six percent from 2010 to 2020, which is less than the average for all careers.

Alternate Career Options

Security Guard

Security guards patrol and monitor an assigned property or zone within a property. They uphold the law and any rules established by the property owner. They're on the lookout for crimes like trespassing, vandalism and theft; they may also keep track of coming and going employees or visitors to the site. Security guards also write incident reports as needed. Security guards usually have at least a high school diploma, but some employers require a two-year degree. On-the-job training is usually required for new hires. State licensing is sometimes required. Employment, training and licensing requirements are typically more stringent for security guards who will be carrying firearms. Security guards' job growth is expected to be 19% from 2010-2020, per the BLS. In 2012, the mean salary for security guards was $27,240, reported the BLS.

Correctional Officer

A correctional officer works in a prison or jail. They oversee inmates' behavior, uphold rules, conduct searches of buildings and inmates for contraband or dangerous items, guide inmates to rehabilitative activities and report infractions or crimes that take place within the facility. Required education can vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree, depending on the employer. Aspiring correctional officers complete academy training and on-the-job training. Professional certification is available. Correctional officers can look forward to job growth of five percent from 2010-2020, according to the BLS. The agency also reported that correctional officers earned mean pay of $43,550 in 2012.

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