If you have a desire for adventure, you are physically fit and you enjoy a challenge, you may have considered a career in law enforcement. This job isn’t similar to many other things, so the chances are you haven’t got any experience when you go into the role. You know what it looks like in the movies, and you know that might not be real life, but how does it differ? What should you expect from a career in law enforcement?
Recruitment Is a Lengthy Process
Recruitment can take a year or longer. You will have to have a lot of background checks, interviews, fitness tests, and set challenges to complete before you are finally able to put on the uniform. This is not a job you can start 28 days after your application has gone in so set your expectations from the beginning.
Training Is Hard
Even if you have completed a policing degree from a provider such as Wilfrid Laurier University you will still find the training at police academy challenging. You will have to learn a lot about the law, and this can be difficult if you have not seen the inside of the classroom for a while. Then there are the physical challenges such as fitness training, driving courses, firearms training, and first aid. It is enough to make your head spin so don’t expect it to be easy, but you will enjoy it if you love a challenge.
You Will Always Be Learning
This is a great career if you love learning, and it doesn’t stop when you leave the police academy. You will need to keep up your certifications such as firearms and defence tactics and this will involve taking a few days away from your police duties every year to keep your training up to date.
Politicians are always changing the law and introducing new laws, and this means that you will always need to learn new things. If you want to get promoted or specialise in one area of policing, you will need separate qualifications for this and you will have to study for them in your own time. If you are focused and motivated, this could be a great career for you.
No Two Days Are the Same
If you love variety, this career may suit you well. You may be dealing with a burglary and be called away to deal with a traffic accident. It can be the most exciting job in the world when you are speeding off to a big incident and not really knowing what to expect when you get there. Alternatively, you could have a quiet shift and spend the night driving around in a police car trying to stay awake. The movies never tell you that there can be boring times too. However, as the world of policing is so changeable, you will never be stuck doing the same thing for long.
You Will Be Expected to Work Shifts
Most police work is done in shifts, and this is especially true of new recruits. This can be exhausting to get used to as staying up all night is not easy, and neither is getting up for a shift in the early hours of the morning. You will get used to it eventually, but it might mess with your natural body clock for a while.
The good thing about working shifts is that you get more time off during the day and it can feel as if you have more free time. Having time off when other people are at work means the places you might want to go such as the refuse center, mall, or gym are likely to be quieter. This is great if you want some peace but not so good if you want to plan a big night out.
You Will Work with Some Great People
As a law enforcer, you will probably be closer to your colleagues than you might be in other careers. That is because you go through a lot of things together while you are on duty. You might attend a violent incident, or a sudden death, and your colleagues will be there to support you. You will have great empathy with each other which will make you close. Another reason you will be close is that if you work the same shift pattern you will have time off together too. This means that you will be able to hang out with your law enforcement colleagues while all your other friends are at work.
You Will See Things You’d Rather Not
Unfortunately, you will be thrown into a lot of situations as a law enforcement officer that you wish you had not seen. Law enforcers are called out when people die suddenly or suspiciously, and they are often the first on the screen at road accidents. There will be a lot of things you will see that you would not have seen in a different career, and this might take some getting used to. Debriefing with your colleagues will help but you shouldn’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you need to.
You Won’t Get Rich
Law enforcement is a vocational career. You sign up for it if you have a strong sense of right and wrong, a love of excitement and adventure, and a desire to help others. It is not something you sign up for because you think you will get rich. It may be that you could earn more money in a different career, but no other job is as interesting or varied as law enforcement. You also have the bonuses of a good pension plan and great job security – after all, there will always be a need for law enforcers.
If you think a law enforcement career is for you then go for it. It is such a unique job that you will never know if you will like it or not unless you try it. As long as you don’t expect it to be exactly like in the movies, you won’t be disappointed.