There are things that you need to consider before you apply for a job in the criminal justice field.
It is never too early or too late to start a career in law enforcement. The only automatic disqualifiers for a position as a police officer are felony convictions as an adult or any misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.
Your conduct on the job is a factor when a criminal justice agency considers you for potential employment.
Be reliable, punctual, and responsible.
Be professional at your job and work well with your co-workers and management. While you may not get along with everyone, staying professional can earn you the respect of your co-workers and supervisors. Even a job working in the fast food industry will help you develop interpersonal skills with the public that is necessary for a job in law enforcement.
Be responsible with your finances. Pay your bills on time and do not show irresponsibility by amassing a large debt in relation to your take-home income.
A check of your credit history is conducted as a part of your background investigation. Even if you have bad credit, take the necessary steps to show that you are responsible enough to rectify the situation – you can contact a non-profit, consumer credit counseling service to help you manage your debt.
Do not go to credit repair agencies looking for a quick fix on a bad credit report. Many of these “credit doctors” recommend illegal ways to obtain new credit and will sink you further in financial trouble.
It is wise to check your credit history with the three major credit agencies to verify its authenticity. According to credit counselors, more than half of the credit reports have inaccurate information.
Ten Steps to a Career in Law Enforcement
Many candidates interested in a law enforcement career are unsuccessful due to problems that occurred earlier in life. As a result, candidates realize if they had known their actions would prevent them from a career in law enforcement they would have made a better choice.
- Don’t do drugs (or if you do stop now). Most agencies allow for some high school experimentation.
- Don’t let alcohol use creep up on you. Alcohol use is a drug that leads to a whole lot of disqualifying areas. For example, fighting, DUI and poor health.
- Protect your driving privilege. Agencies look at the number of tickets you have received, your vehicle accidents and license suspensions. Also, a disqualifying area may be failure to carry proper insurance.
- Make fitness a way of life. Law enforcement is a strenuous job in which your safety can depend on being physically fit.
- Pay your bills. Agencies regard how you handle your finances as a way to determine your level of responsibility and maturity.
- Honesty is its own reward. It’s an old-fashioned phrase, but many candidates are eliminated for stealing or lying. If a person is not honest, she or he has no business being a peace officer.
- Sharpen your writing and comprehension skills. People underestimate how important writing and comprehension is to a law enforcement career. Many candidates are screened out during the written examination process.
- Your job history is critically important. No matter what job you have, make a good impression on your employer. Employment issues can become an issue during a background investigation.
- Strengthen your self-esteem. We need employees who are assertive, self-confident, outgoing, personable, and interact well with all people.
- Set your values and be true to them. Peer pressure is a very powerful force but the real test for a person is the ability to be true to his/her values.