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Law Enforcement Careers

There are many options to pursue if seeking a fulfilling career in law enforcement. Public safety is of vital importance and there are many ways to preserve order and safety. These occupations are several choices among many, and many officers start in one position and later rise to higher ranks or new positions.

Police Officers

Employed at the local level, police officers are municipal law enforcement agents. They are assigned to specific districts by their superiors, and wear uniforms to be easily distinguished by the public. Their main duties consist of performing patrols and responding to calls from police dispatchers. They respond to emergencies and write tickets for traffic violations. They can have specialties for specific types of crime, such as drug enforcement or homicide investigation. Many law enforcement careers begin at this level.

State Troopers

State troopers are state police that work across the entire state, as opposed to being stationed in specific districts or neighborhoods. They primarily enforce traffic laws, but can also be called on to help with law enforcement in small towns and counties that are in need of assistance. They are sometimes referred to as highway patrol officers. This is also a suitable entry-level position in law enforcement.


Sheriffs are high-ranking police officers that serve similar functions to police chiefs. They are elected by local communities and have jurisdiction over a specific county. There are many functions for sheriffs, which vary based on their location. Some perform patrols and respond to emergency calls like regular police officers, but others manage law enforcement institutions like jailhouses or courthouses. This is a higher position in the force, and there are not many sheriffs compared to other positions.

Deputy Sheriffs

Deputy sheriffs are below sheriffs, but hold many of the same duties. They are responsible for the enforcement of laws throughout the county they are assigned to patrol, but others do not have patrol duties. Like their superiors, they may be responsible for courthouse services or administrative duties at jailhouses.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Detectives and criminal investigators are a different kind of law enforcer, and often wear plainclothes. They do not directly serve the public in the same way as police officers, instead working on specific cases. They collect evidence and facts to help solve cases, working on rotation until arrests are made.

Federal Officers

Federal officers are the highest ranking law enforcement agents in the country. There are many government departments that staff federal agents, and they each have specialties like drug enforcement or border patrol. These agents have jurisdiction anywhere in the country, and the application process is rigorous and exclusive. Many federal officers are highly trained, with relevant experience and specialties for their line of work.

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