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The Advantages to Higher Education in Police Officers

2 March 2010 No Comment


From the city or county’s perspective, hiring new recruits with a college education has many benefits.  Studies have shown that police officers that have obtained their four year bachelor degree tend to have better behavioral and performance characteristics, fewer on the job injuries and assaults, less disciplinary actions, less sick time used, greater acceptance of minorities, less citizen complaints and higher promotional aspirations.  It is hard to understand why only about fifty of the nations police forces require a four-year degree when hiring police officers.

As someone considering a career in law enforcement there are many reasons to first begin with a higher education in criminal law or police science.  While it may not be a requirement to have this degree to simply become an officer in your area, it often is a requirement to receive any type of promotion or special ranking.  For this reason many people already employed as police officers find themselves returning to school to obtain their degree. The average police officer in the United States makes a median income of $51,410. For officers with a college degree this, figure can nearly double.  With advanced education comes advanced promotional opportunities, and with any type of career the higher you move up the ladder the higher your yearly salary and benefits package become.  For example, in 2008 the average detective and criminal investigator made $60,910 and the average police supervisor made $75,490.  Both detective and supervisory positions will normally require a college degree.  To obtain employment at the Federal level, an officer must have a bachelor’s degree.

There are many programs available for obtaining your degree, and some jurisdictions offer tuition reimbursement for officers wishing to return to school.  Juggling work and home life can be hard enough as it is when you are working the long hours involved in law enforcement, but many colleges and universities have begun offering online classes that allow you to obtain your degree from the comfort of your own home. It is important to understand that a degree does not mean there is a guarantee to promotions or higher salary levels.  On the job performance is a major factor in determining who gets promoted and who does not.  But a college education coupled with hard work on the job does give you the edge you need to be competitive for the openings in the most desirable departments. Many sources speculate that a degree will be required of all officers in the future, as studies have shown educated officers are a major asset to the force with much less liabilities.  You may want to get ahead of the game by earning your degree in criminal justice or police sciences.  Chances are it e a worthwhile investment in your future career.

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