It takes a certain type of person to succeed in a law enforcement career, but that personality type is probably a lot different to what you think it is. A lot of people lust after a job in law enforcement, but ultimately few make a success of it – and there are many reasons why.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss a few things you need to think about before you forge a role for yourself protecting and serving the public. Let’s take a closer look.
Do you like people?
First and foremost, forget about what you have seen in the movies, especially the classic 1970s hard-boiled cop shows. Yes, your career in law enforcement could have its exciting moments, but essentially, it will be about dealing with people. There will be a reasonable amount of criminals, of course – all of whom need to be treated in accordance with the law. But there are also victims, witnesses, car drivers, innocent bystanders and officials in the law courts – to name but few. If you don’t like people, law enforcement is not the role for you.
Can you communicate?
Communication skills are critical – both in the field and in the investigation room. You need to be able to communicate and converse with all kinds of people from all different fields. And if you are unclear at any stage, it might even ruin your investigation. Unless you can always get your point across succinctly and clearly in all kinds of situations, the chances are that you won’t manage a career in law enforcement, whether that’s for the police or the US Marshals.
Are you willing to learn?
Don’t assume you can just turn up to the FBI office, ask for a badge and go break up some international crime rings. You’ll need to learn – a lot. You can start with something like criminal justice programs online or at college, but most of all there must be a willingness to learn on the job. You may find you have skills in a specific area, which means specialization. And there will be a huge amount of tests and examinations to study for, both before and during your role.
Are you a calm individual?
Let’s take police officers as an example, here. You may have seen many news reports of the police taking things too far in certain communities – and it happens. But these are, by and large, unusual occurrences. The vast majority of police officers – and law enforcement in general – understand the need for calm and critical thinking. There will be many difficult situations to deal with, and unless you can handle the stress, you won’t be in a job for long.
Do you want to serve?
Finally, some people get into law enforcement for the wrong reasons. Typically, these are the people who just want the opportunity to live out bully fantasies and go on power trips over people. But again, these types of people don’t last long in law enforcement. Law enforcement is, quite simply, about protecting and serving. Essentially, the vast majority of your work will be performing small acts of kindness.