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How To Get a Job in State Law Enforcement

written by: Matt Schmidt•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 3/1/2011

There are several occupations available in state law enforcement. This article will describe different jobs and what the requirements are.

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    There are several different types of state law enforcement jobs. Some are in the uniformed services and some are investigative in nature. Requirements vary with each position. Working in this field in state government offers security and the satisfaction of serving the public.

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    State Police

    Highway Patrol The most recognized of state law enforcement jobs are positions within state police agencies. These consist of irregular hours and dealing with difficult people and situations. They do offer excellent salaries, benefits and job security. To qualify, a written civil service test is administered to applicants. There are minimum education requirements that must be met to take this test, that may vary by state. Degrees are typically in social sciences such as Criminal Justice and Psychology. The written test consists of a series of multiple choice questions that measure written comprehension, observation, and understanding facts. The test may be administered by the police agency, or the state’s civil service bureau. The applicants who pass the exam will need to pass a physical test to see if they can meet the physical demands of the position too. Those who pass go on to the State Police academy. Training at the academy can vary in length but is often for six months. Getting promoted through the ranks is possible with experience as is transferring to state investigation jobs.

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    State University Public Safety

    College Campus Some state based law enforcement jobs are right on campus. Each state across the country has a public university system to meet the needs of students, at a lower cost that their private counterparts. The individual universities can be complete communities in themselves. Some are quite large such as Arizona State University with 70,000 enrolled students on four campuses in Phoenix. Each university has a public safety division that serves as law enforcement to the university community. Some campus systems require a written civil service test and some are direct hire. Minimum qualifications vary from having a two year or four year degree. Selected candidates must pass the physical test. Training can vary, but is often twelve weeks in length. Some states have a centralized academy, while others are trained on the campus they are assigned to, within the university system.

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    Environmental and Forestry Officers

    Wildlife Many states have public lands and campsites open for the public to enjoy. State law enforcement jobs in this area consist of officers who are appointed to make sure people are kept safe on theses lands, and that environmental laws are adhered to. The way of being appointed resembles the same path as the State Police, but more specialized training is required. Education in environmental science, botany and forestry may be required depending on the position. Often a four year degree is required due to the specialized nature of the job. A written civil service test is given, which includes questions regarding wildlife and forestry. A specialized academy is often located in a rural or wilderness area, where training is then conducted. This work is often independent, in out of the way areas, often without backup.

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    Investigators

    Another area of employment to consider is state investigation jobs. States have different agencies with specific functions. Many have an investigation arm that reviews possible violations of laws and regulations, that the agency is charged with keeping. These can range from looking into labor standards practices, to addressing complaints filed with an Attorney General’s office. The minimum education requirements may vary with these jobs based on specialty. Some jobs may require a bachelors degree for entry level. The written civil service test is given to establish a list. An oral test may be given to measure presentation skills, since conducting interviews is a major component of the job. Candidates are then chosen based on their position on the list. On the job training is often done in an office and field-like setting, under a more experienced investigator..

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    Working for a state law enforcement agency can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. State law enforcement jobs offer good salaries and benefits. The field does draw numerous applicants, and appointments are competitive. With the right amount of training, persistence, and effort, these are great jobs for the right individual.

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    Sources

    1. Texas Department of Public Safety www.txdps.state.tx.us

    2. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation www.dec.ny.gov

    3. California Attorney General's Office oag.ca.gov

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    Image credits in order of appearance

    Morgufile.com

    Stockvault.net

    sxc.hu