If you think that you want to work in law enforcement, you’re probably wondering what the best degree to become a police officer is. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may not need to get a degree to find that kind of job, but people with a college education are more likely to impress employers and have more opportunities to advance their career in the future.
Many people consider criminal justice to be the best degree to become a police officer, and there’s a good reason for this. Whether you go to a two-year or four-year school, you’ll take classes that will teach you about many subjects, including:
- Criminal justice system
- Criminal law
- Correctional systems
- Criminal investigation
- Criminal behavior
- Social justice
Many criminal justice programs also require students to complete a practicum or internship. Some even put students through criminal justice academy so that students will be attractive candidates to future employers. Don’t confuse criminal justice degrees with criminology degrees. Pursuing a criminology degree is still a great way to prepare for work in the criminal justice system; however, criminology and criminal justice are different, according to Career Profiles.
If you become a police officer, you’ll probably spend some of your time dealing with minorities. Any job that requires a lot contact with people does, so consider taking foreign language courses in college. Besides English, the most common spoken language in the United States is Spanish. If you want to live and work in Louisiana or Maine, however, studying French may be a better option. Many places, especially larger cities, also have a large population of Chinese-speaking individuals. If you decide to study a foreign language, it’s probably a good idea to take it as a minor or double major. A foreign language degree might not be the best degree to become a police officer, but paired with another field of study, it will make you a competitive candidate for almost any police officer job.
There’s a common misconception out there that people who want to become lawyers major in pre-law; however, this is rarely the case. Pre-law usually isn’t considered a major – students who study pre-law take certain courses to prepare for law school, but they also major in another field of study. While criminal justice is considered one of the best degrees to become a police officer, enrolling in a pre-law program is also a good idea. You’ll end up taking challenging courses and will have the option of getting into a law career later in life if you wish to do so. If you don’t want to major in criminal justice as you complete your pre-law program, consider majoring in political science, criminology or legal studies. No matter what major you decide on, try to get experience by either volunteering or getting an internship at your local police department.
Related Resource: Political Science Jobs
When it comes right down to it, majoring in criminal justice will probably get you the best degree to become a police officer, but studying other things, like pre-law and foreign languages, will also help.