Hodges University's Fort Myers Campus

How To Get Started in Law Enforcement


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Do you want an exciting career in law enforcement? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as enrolling in the police academy and being handed a badge. Luckily, an associate or bachelor’s degree can open the door to a myriad of opportunities in the legal, computer information and public safety fields. While police officers are the face of law enforcement, many careers, ranging from computer forensic specialists to paralegals, comprise the broad scope of specialized law enforcement personnel. At Hodges University, we offer three unique programs that prepare you for a rewarding career in law enforcement: criminal justice, cybersecurity and forensics, and paralegal studies.

With such a wide array of potential career options, you must determine which path is right for you, based on your interests, skills and abilities. Though falling under the law enforcement umbrella, the distinct career paths all possess their own necessary skills and experiences. Are you a computer whiz? A career in cybersecurity may be right for you. Enjoy research and writing? A career as a paralegal may be up your alley. Let’s look at a few possible careers and what they are looking for in a candidate.

Police officers are the front line of public safety, working to prevent and punish criminal activity. They have a strong relationship with most other law enforcement agencies, including legal, forensics and corrections. Police officers must possess a strong sense of ethics, thorough understanding of the laws and strong interpersonal skills. An associate degree is generally required to pursue a career as a police officer, though candidates with a bachelor’s degree really stand out. In addition to the initial selection process, police officers with bachelor’s degrees are more attractive for promotions and leadership roles.

Paralegals assist attorneys with a broad range of legal tasks, including drafting legal documents, researching case information, and maintaining legal records. They generally possess adept research and writing skills, and they are highly organized by nature. Paralegals generally require an associate degree and a paralegal certification.

Computer Forensic Analysts retrieve and analyze data from computers and other digital mediums, often as evidence in a criminal investigation. These analysts serve as the IT experts of the criminal justice field. As a highly specialized profession, forensic analysts are in high demand. Due to this, a bachelor’s degree is generally required. If you like to stay on top of all of the latest technologies, this may be the path for you.

Cybersecurity Specialists are the first line of defense against cyber attacks on businesses, individuals and government agencies. They monitor and protect websites and networks from hackers, viruses, etc. Cyber attacks on government agencies or corporations can have catastrophic results, including stolen identities, breached confidential data and the loss of huge sums of money. With a career in cybersecurity, you can use your technical expertise to safeguard these systems to prevent unwanted breaches. Much like forensic analysts, this is a highly specialized role in law enforcement and generally requires a bachelor’s degree. With technology rapidly advancing, a person in this field must possess a strong desire keep up with new developments in the industry. This is also one of the highest paying law enforcement fields, due to its specialized nature.

Now that you know some of the career options available to you, let’s explore your educational options. As referenced above, careers in law enforcement generally require a minimum of an associate degree. At Hodges, we offer specialized programs in paralegal studies, cybersecurity and forensics, and criminal justice. With both associate and bachelor’s degrees available, we will prepare you for the myriad of positions listed above.

Pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice will introduce you to the major institutions of law enforcement (court system, corrections, policing) and how they work together. You will analyze the major theoretical perspectives in criminology and understand the link between research, theory and practice. Curriculum for a degree in criminal justice generally includes criminal law, criminology, forensic analysis and studies of socio-economic factors on society.

Pursuing a degree in Paralegal Studies will prepare students who intend to become legal support professionals in law firms, government organizations, nonprofits and the private sector. It is also a solid basis for transition to law school in the future. A degree in paralegal studies provides a foundation in all of the primary areas of law to prepare students for a successful career in the legal field. The curriculum is based on the recommendations of the American Bar Association and prepares students for the Paralegal Certification Exam. Curriculum for a degree in paralegal studies generally includes civil procedure, torts, contracts, criminal law and property law.

Pursuing a degree in Computer Forensics will prepare students for the development and support of computer information systems. At Hodges, several opportunities are integrated into the curriculum to assist students in the pursuit of nationally recognized certifications. Curriculum for a degree in computer forensics generally includes hardware support, operating systems, web design, database management, scripting and program design.

Pursuing a degree in Cybersecurity will prepare students to develop the skills necessary to secure computer programs, data and networks from outside attacks. Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, Hodges equips students with the knowledge to stay on top of technological advances. Curriculum for a degree in Cybersecurity generally includes network security, network defense, security penetration, ethical hacking, information systems compliance and systems analysis.

After you have completed your education, you will begin your job hunt. Though you may have a degree, you will most likely require some hands-on training. This experience will be a necessary part of your job search, in order to stand out from the other potential candidates. Look for internships or volunteer opportunities with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Government job sites will yield ample opportunities for entry-level and internship positions. When you receive an invitation to interview for a position, the process may be a little daunting. More likely than not, you will be subject to a background check and psychological assessment. However, if you are committed to a career in criminal justice, the process will culminate in a rewarding career.