Those who want a fast-paced and exciting career can do no better than choose to become a police officer. However, there are very important factors to consider before deciding to become a cop.
As with other careers in criminal justice field, police officers make a real difference in the society. It can definitely be a rewarding criminal justice job; however, there are particular drawbacks to this occupation, too. You need to consider the pros and cons before you proceed with your cop training at a police academy.
Reasons to Become a Cop
- This criminal justice job is ideal for people who love variety and challenge. Not everyone likes to sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week in an office.
- While employment of police and detectives is only expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, those who held these criminal justice jobs earned an annual median wage of $55,010 in 2010 ($26.45 per hour). The continued demand for public safety will lead to new openings for police officers at the local level, while jobs at the state and federal level may be more competitive.(BLS.gov)
- There are various types of criminal justice jobs within the police force that you can choose to specialize in, such as park ranger, K-9 handler, Special Assignments Unit (SWAT), field training officer, and undercover detectives, to name a few.
- While being a police officer is not the highest-salaried occupation, there are great work benefits to include health insurance, paid holidays, sick leaves, paid overtime, and pension plans. Uniforms are provided by the police force.
- Most communities view police officers with respect and admiration. You will belong to the few who are willing to risk their lives to maintain order and peace. You can take great pride and joy in the job that you do.
Downsides of the Occupation
- First of all, being a cop is a very dangerous job and no amount of police training from the best police academy can really prepare you for every eventuality. You can encounter violent individuals with weapons that have no regard for people’s safety, including their own. Traffic accidents, especially in the situations where you need to pursue criminals, are a real possibility.
- Because cops deal with high-pressure situations, occupational stress and burnout are commonplace in this career in criminal justice. Part of the job is dealing with unruly, abusive and difficult citizens and you need to have a lot of patience. You will be exposed to some of the most horrendous acts that people commit against other people which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
- The work schedule for police officers varies and is erratic depending on the department where you will work. Some police officers work in 10- or 12-hour shifts, some work overnight, weekends, holidays, etc. Public safety and security is a 24-hour job.
You need to seriously weigh the pros and cons before you decide to become a cop as this is a big commitment to take on. You will face rigorous cop training and afterwards, you will be in constant danger on the job. This criminal justice job is not for the faint of heart; it takes a genuine desire to serve the public and protect others, and you need to be able to work well with others if you want to become a successful police officer.