The journey to becoming a high ranking officer with a top-notch salary can be a challenge, especially if you’re not proactively pursuing a promotion. Some law enforcement professionals choose a specialty and are happy with their positions, while others want to climb the ladder and build a prestigious career. Of course, almost all officers would like to envision themselves in the positions of their superiors 5-10 years from now and most also share the aspiration of also earning a better salary towards the end of the career than they did as rookies.
Though it is rightfully assumed that experience and dedication to law enforcement should be enough to earn them a promotion, there are other steps that officers can take to boost their careers quickly. Whether you’re looking for some excitement in your line of work, a higher-paying position, or even just more respect within the chain of command, here are 7 things you can do to boost your career in the short-term future:
Earn a Master of Public Safety (MPS) Degree
Earning a degree that proves you’re knowledgeable about public safety will make you a more eligible candidate for leadership-oriented roles where extensive logistical and academic expertise are required for the management and oversight of law enforcement programs on a local, state, and federal level.
If you’re interested in pursuing an administration position that would let you practice leadership and planning at a high level while partnering with teams of other law enforcement officers and government workers, a Master of Public Safety (MPS) degree would be a good fit for your next educational step towards furthering your career. Studying for an MPS online from Wilfred Laurier University is one way you could work on earning another degree in your spare time and at your own pace from home, without having to disrupt your current job position or other daily obligations.
Pursue Additional Education in Related Fields
Aside from a degree in public health, there are various topics you can study to become a better law enforcement officer and show your superiors that you’re worthy of a higher rank. The field of criminal justice is so broad that at least a dozen other fields of study intersect with it, including sociology, psychology, criminology, foreign language, computer science, forensics, finance, political science, and law.
If you’re looking for a career change that will give you a more comfortable job or one that is more suited to your personality, it’s important to remember that you can extend your academic pursuit into many areas because every law enforcement agency or facility employs people with a wide range of skill sets. For example, after weighing your options, you may decide that playing a more managerial role would be better for you than a position that has you spending a lot of time in the field.
Strive to Perform Exceptionally During Every Shift
If you decide that you would like to climb up the ladder linearly rather than branching off into one of the intersecting topics mentioned above, you’ll need to accept the fact that most promotions are given to people who show exceptional track records and traits on the job. Watching movies and shows related to law enforcement can give you some motivation and inspiration regarding the kinds of heroic and next-level deeds you could do to gain some publicity and notoriety among your coworkers.
Don’t be afraid to take your level of commitment up a notch when it comes to solving or addressing the difficult cases and situations that you’ll undoubtedly face during the course of your career. It might seem far-fetched to believe that your contributions in a single case could earn you a promotion, but that could really happen if some of your efforts become a central talking point at the station or field office where you work.
Have the Right Approach and Attitude
While the previous point urges you to look for opportunities to prove yourself in the line of duty, it’s good to acknowledge that many days will be uneventful. On those slow days when there’s not much to do other than handling routine processes like patrolling and filing paperwork, only your approach and attitude will be apparent to the superiors in charge of granting you a promotion. Show up to work everyday with your game face on and never stop holding yourself and your coworkers accountable.
Strive to be productive to the extent that you wind up feeling like there’s nothing left to do at the end of each day. Although getting through a stack of papers or finishing another routine patrol route can seem tedious at times, try to at least be enthusiastic when interacting with other officers, with an ongoing focus on encouraging team spirit and boosting morale.
Be Patient and Don’t Rush to Conclusions
It’s tempting to only think about the beneficial actions you can take to push your career forward and completely overlook some of the detrimental mistakes you could make along the way. If you’re always looking for a way to prove yourself, you could wind up overdoing it and as a result you could be perceived as a hothead by your peers. Stay cool, calm, and collected in every scenario and never make assumptions or jump to conclusions.
Try to avoid taking sides and hedge your bets by opting for a neutral, information-seeking stance in every case. Taking the right side might seem like a good way to get that promotion but accidentally being on the wrong side of a conclusion or confrontation isn’t worth the risk. By staying patient and waiting for the right opportunities to arise, you’ll stay on a forward trajectory in your career while avoiding the stumbling blocks that many inexperienced officers have to deal with.
Commit to Learning the Laws and Rules That Govern Your Job
It’s easy to get distracted by the lure of moving forward in your career and completely forget about the possibility of something going wrong instead. You’re accountable for making sure you play by the rules properly without overlooking any of the fine details within the written requirements, laws, or oaths pertaining to your job duties. Thus, don’t forget to thoroughly study your job description and any documents or guidelines that govern the way you’re supposed to do your job.