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Promotions: The Courses that Count

Promotions: The Courses that Count

Richard Weinblatt

You’ve decided to go back to college. You figured how to pay for it (or have your agency do so). You’ve set up a place in your home to study for exams and do papers. But here’s the question that many people ask…what should you study? Picking a major has never been harder than it is now. With the explosion of online and private institutions of higher education, aspiring and current law enforcers have more choices than ever. That includes the many choices of majors or areas of study.

College in this day and age of complicated policing in a democratic society makes for a good move. In the words of my good friend and retired South Brunswick, NJ, Police chief Fred Thompson, “Education does not make a bad cop good, but it makes a good cop better.” Similarly, the choice of a major does not make a bad cop good, but the right major can position you to do your job even better or get your foot in the door at your dream department.

The key is determining what your goal is with that educational endeavor. Is the goal promotion or is it the furtherance of an area that is integrated into policing such as counseling? Do you want to be the man (or woman) in the corner suite, or are you looking to be the best patrol officer you can be?

Promotion Path

Many students view education as just a piece of paper that is their ticket to the gold on the collar. But an education is more than that. A good education (stress good as in quality) will enhance an officer’s skills and talents. Better written and verbal communications skills are but two of many benefits derived from an education.

But of course, an education, particularly an advanced graduate education doesn’t hurt your chances of promotion (in most places). Many agencies have established minimum educational credentials for promotion. The higher up the food chain, the more letters (college degrees) will probably need to follow your name.

Those looking toward the executive suite would be smart to major in an area that shows police command staff that you possess the tools to do a managerial post. Aspirations to the police chief post require this even more as proof to the hiring city manager that the candidate has the skills to do the complex job.

Degrees (especially a master’s degree) in business administration, public administration, or public affairs are especially suited for those envisioning a career path that moves up in the organization. My master’s degree is in public administration with a specialization in criminal justice. That served me well in my successful application for a police chief’s post as the hiring city manager had a master’s degree in public administration also.

Allied Area

If you are looking to expand or enhance your credentials in an area allied with law enforcement, the right major can help you make that happen. I know officers that demonstrated a knack for talking to people in their role as cops and wanted to pursue that on a higher level. They attained degrees in social work, counseling, and psychology. Some have even opened up part-time counseling practices and are honing their craft.

A newer area for officers is forensic cyber crime and computers. A few years back, only a handful of agencies had anyone who understood computers, let alone had the requisite knowledge to spearhead a computer based crime investigation. Nowadays, however, more and more law enforcers are earning computer-based degree credentials and are comfortable dealing in the cyber world.

With the growing diversification of the communities that are served by law enforcement agencies, officers responding to calls for police services are seeing a huge increase in the number of languages and divergent cultures. Degrees that offer immersion in foreign languages and their cultures are attractive as they offer officers a path to meet that modern policing challenge.

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Certain rare languages may have more cache than others given a particular agency’s needs. For example, some agencies in the Central Florida region are very interested in those who speak Creole. Others, especially in the intelligence areas, are very interested in those people who can communicate in Arabic languages from the Middle East. Still others, such as those in the Pacific Northwest, are pursuing people who can speak Korean and other Pacific Rim languages.

With the rise of white-collar crime, some law enforcement organizations are very interested in those who have a credentialed forensic accounting background. Like cyber crime expertise, accounting is not a common degree that police recruiters and administrators encounter.

Whatever your choice, the most important thing is just to do it. The bosses at headquarters will recognize you as a person who has chosen a task and stuck with it to completion. They will have more confidence that you will take on new or additional responsibilities in the same manner.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago



  • 7819_712435661328_26723071_40880744_7213452_n_max50


    over 6 years ago


    to be a cop you need 60 credits but to be competetive you should strive for a B.S. degree. Of course its hard no one said it'd be easy - I maintained 18 credit loads, while working part time and being an active member with the National Guard. In the end doors open all you have to do is maintain professionalism, volunteer, and of course network.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 7 years ago


    what can i do if just get my associates degree

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 7 years ago


    Higher education is a tool for officers of every level.

  • L_c4644d5f6196a81f4ac53fba0410e165_max50


    almost 7 years ago


    i have a question im jsut getting my associates degree in criminal jusitce what doors do that open in law enforcement?

  • Se823eec286bed49912d2e2uo4_max50


    almost 7 years ago


    Good Info

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 7 years ago

    Education never stops. Great information

  • P1010071_max50


    almost 7 years ago


    13,000 Dollars Later,for education to be a Police Officer. And application Denied. Why does the DOJ,say YEA, ATF Says YEA. But why does the Initiating or Recruiting Officer of that DEPT, SAY NO.
    POLITICS....Always be aware of the ground you stand on before you knock on the door. Dont be affraid to make points with those who are working in the Dept you plan to join. Take the extra step to get all of the Education,Knowledge and Experience afforded to you. If in turn you, like me, have more than 19 years of Education,A POST/An Investigator/Fire Science/Firearms/Arson/Explosives/ and addtional college credits in the same field, Find out why your turned away. No one will do it for you. Resubmit your application, not only to the Depts. Initiating Officer but to the Chief sent by Private carrier. Little is it known Recruiters make and take favors from other Dept. friends to get their kid on board. This in turn if the kid is as dumb as a rock, the Chief has kindling to start a fire on a new Dept Policy. Sounds sad, but all true. Remember BE SAFE.

  • 374342-r1-18-18a_max50


    about 7 years ago


    I go to Everest college online I am in the AS Criminal Investgations Degree and I love it and i graduate in no time and online works for me since I work full time and am a mother of three.

  • Americade_2008_dinas_first_106_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Our Seargeant test is saturday, wish I found this earlier.

  • Picture0002_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Education: the one thing noone can take away!

  • Beautiful_max50


    about 7 years ago


    its hard going to anykind of school while trying to further your career.....just go slow. Education is so important!!

  • Armoredvehicle_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Someone once said that the future of America's illeteracy won't be from those who can't read or write, rather, those who can not learn. Meaning the world is putting way too much emphasis on getting a degree over experience itself. I'm all about learning, trust me, but I have found that once you get to a certain level of education it makes it harder to get a job because they don't want to pay for it. I have a BA and BS degree (complements of Uncle Sam) but the best advice I can give is to get certified or licensed in the area which interest you. Example: I am a certified instructor in courses ranging from CPR to SRT, CQB, ASP, OC, ect. Thats where I've made my money. Teaching

  • Me_and_the_kids_1_max50


    about 7 years ago


    A GREAT REGIONALLY ACCREDITED ONLINE UNIVERSITY IS COLORADO TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY. This was the only program I could find which was 100% applicable to the streets. Furthermore, it prepared me for one of the top three graduate criminal justice programs in the nation. Whatever your choice, REMEMBER THAT REGIONAL ACCREDIDATION IS HIGHER THAN NATIONAL ACCREDIDATION!!!

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    Very uplifting to see..Much is undecided as I look to be free..A sense of who and what I am..but one who loves servicing better than what I've seen..What age is to old..What does it take to stand-up and take a leap..just to find those who prevail...What is the best direction to take when one begins to walk down that path! Apache

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