People who take up careers in law enforcement are generally paid well, offered significant health and retirement benefits, and are provided with ample opportunities to help others. It’s always great to be in a line of work that pays you to help other people, but perhaps what’s even more rewarding is when that job pays you for the opportunity to teach and train recruits and leave your mark on the new generation of law enforcement professionals.
With that in mind, it’s pretty safe to say that within the law enforcement profession, working as a training officer or police instructor is easily one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs available.
Right from the get-go, the first day at the academy, training officers set the tone for a recruit’s entire career. Training officers are who uphold ethical principles, instill discipline, and pass on the skills and knowledge that are critical to safeguarding the rights of citizens, preserving public trust and peace, and perhaps most importantly, coming back home safe and sound at the end of their shift.
Police instructors and law enforcement training officers don’t just have a rewarding job; they also have one of the single most important ones on the force.
We’ve dedicated this post to providing a comprehensive breakdown of the career profile of a police instructor and training officer. Let’s get into it.
Where Police Instructors Work and What They Do
Law enforcement training officers aren’t confined to any particular space when it comes to doing their job. They work in a variety of environments that range from the police academy to the field. Police instructors are not only responsible for training and teaching recruits, but also seasoned veterans on the job.
They provide vital instruction on academics, such as law, interpersonal communication, human diversity, physical training and hands-on applications, such as the proper use of firearms, vehicle operations, defensive tactics, and first aid.
Police instructors and law enforcement training officers may work for police departments or training commissions, or they may even work as adjunct instructors at colleges, vocational schools, or police academies. They are required to stay updated on the latest trends in law enforcement practices, techniques, tactics, and technology, as well as legal bulletins. They are also responsible for preparing lesson plans and developing updated training programs as newer issues impacting law enforcement and police work are identified.
A law enforcement training instructor’s job typically includes the following:
- Developing lesson plans
- Providing classroom instruction
- Identifying needs and opportunities for new training
- Teaching defensive tactics
- Teaching physical fitness programs
- Teaching firearms proficiency
- Teaching vehicle operations proficiency
- Teaching first aid and first response
- Conducting recruit training
- Researching new tactics and techniques
- Producing training bulletins
- Conducting in-service training
- Writing reports and recommendations
Of course, careers in law enforcement are dangerous. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers rank among the top 25 most dangerous jobs in the US. Law enforcement training officers are responsible for making sure recruits and fellow police officers get the best possible training and instruction so that they can perform their jobs safely and responsibly. Considering how the actions of police officers tend to be judged by the training they received, training officers bear a significant burden on their shoulders to deliver quality training and instruction.
What You Must Know to Become a Police Instructor
Law enforcement training officers are generally either current or former law enforcement officers. This means that a law enforcement officer certification is typically required. Furthermore, they must also have certifications for special instructor in various training areas in order to teach and train recruits and fellow law enforcement officers.
In order for police instructors to be certified as instructors in different techniques they must undergo several hundreds of hours of additional training. Individual instructor courses tend to require anywhere between 40 to 80 hours of training, not to mention internships as well.
While it may not always be a requirement, it’s certainly beneficial for candidates to have a college degree. Training officers who are hired by commissions or agencies may be required to have a significant number of years of experience in law enforcement before they can work as instructors. In some cases, background investigations and polygraph exams may also be required.
Police Instructors: Job Prospects and Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for law enforcement officers is 5 percent (faster than the average) from 2019 to 2029. The average salary for a law enforcement instructor is $57,291 and can go as high as $90,000. Salaries for law enforcement instructors vary depending on the location and agency.
Should You Consider a Career as a Law Enforcement Training Officer?
No matter what the line of work, few experiences are more rewarding and fulfilling than having the opportunity and responsibility to pass on the skills and knowledge that are critical to positively influencing the new generation of professionals. A career as a law enforcement training officer offers this opportunity along with the fantastic intangible benefits of witnessing your students grow and improve in their chosen fields of law enforcement.
If you feel drawn to criminology and criminal justice careers and have an inclination towards research and teaching, then you should consider working towards the goal of becoming a law enforcement training officer.
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