Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security Career Cluster Overview
You’ve probably seen people who drive as if there were no speed limits or stop signs. They zoom down the road, oblivious of others and hoping for the best. What if there really were no traffic laws like stopping at stop signs or driving slower on a curvy road? We would live in a much more dangerous and disorganized society if we did not have laws.
Our legal system includes statutes (laws) enacted by legislatures (Congress) and decisions handed down by the courts (judicial system). The law provides us with guidelines and rules to live by in our personal, social, and business activities. When someone does not follow the laws or a law is unclear, our legal system includes ways to settle disputes and resolve conflicts. The law in the United States is based on democratic principles, and its goal is to protect individual rights and ensure a just and free society. The careers in this cluster deal with the creation, enforcement, and application of these laws and regulations.
Also included in this cluster are public safety and security careers. Virtually every aspect of life involves policies and regulations that promote public safety. The exterior of a house meets certain codes, or rules, so that it will not catch on fire easily. Even your dog must be controlled according to regulations like leash laws. Public safety also involves careers that involve emergency management, such as firefighters and rescue workers of various types.
Career Pathways in Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security
The law, public safety, and security cluster contains four career pathways: correction services, emergency and fire management services, law enforcement services, and legal services.
Correction Services Career Path
Corrections workers oversee people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, or who have been convicted of a crime and are serving a sentence in a correctional facility. Corrections workers may transport inmates from one place to another, maintain order in correctional facilities, serve meals to prisoners, or help inmates transition back into society during a parole period. Examples of careers in corrections services include corrections officers, food service workers, and parole officers.
Emergency and Fire Management Services Career Path
Emergency services workers come to the aid of people who have fallen victim to natural disasters, fires, and other catastrophic events. Most workers in this area are trained in emergency medical techniques, as they are often the first to respond to a disaster. They provide lifesaving and basic medical care to patients until they are able to transport them to a hospital. (Emergency medical technicians and paramedics provide emergency care as a routine part of their job.) Work in this area requires a great deal of stamina and courage, as these workers confront crisis and danger on an almost daily basis. Examples of careers in this pathway include emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and hazardous waste management technicians.
Law Enforcement Services Career Path
Law enforcement officers protect the lives and properties of the individuals they serve and enforce the local, state, and federal laws. Law enforcement officers’ responsibilities vary depending on the agency for which they work. For example, detectives conduct criminal investigations, while traffic officers regulate motorists on streets and highways. Other law enforcement professionals protect parks and wildlife, conduct customs and immigrations inspections, and or help judges maintain order in courtrooms. Examples of careers in this area include bailiffs, customs officials, and police officers.
Legal Services Career Path
The legal services pathway contains the lawyers who advise and represent clients, judges who interpret the law and rule in cases, and the many legal support professions that keep the legal system running smoothly. For example, law librarians provide valuable research services for law students, lawyers, and judges. Paralegals perform many of the duties that lawyers time used to perform, thereby giving lawyers time to take on more clients and cases. Law professors work at law schools and help students not only learn the law, but master the legal reasoning skills this profession requires. Other careers in this pathway include court reporters, legal secretaries, and legal nurse consultants.
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Exploring Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security Careers
The law, public safety, and security clusters offers opportunities for people with a variety of educational experience. Some jobs, such as police officers and emergency medical technicians, require a high school diploma followed by a formal training program. Many careers in legal services require a bachelor’s degree and a law degree, often called the juris doctor (J.D.) degree. A law degree requires a minimum of three years of full-time study after college, after which the student must pass the bar examination in the state in which he or she wishes to practice law.
If this field interests you, become involved in your community by volunteering. Your local YMCA or park department is a good place to start looking for these opportunities. Working with the community in various ways will give you a better understanding of the sort of commitment a law or public safety career will entail, as all jobs in this field involve dealing with the public in one form or another. Becoming involved in your student government group is another great way to learn how laws and rules are decided and enforced in a community.
Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security Careers Outlook
The job outlook in this career cluster is very good. As laws become more complicated and lawsuits more prevalent, legal services will continue to expand. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of lawyers is expected to grow about as fast as the average through 2016. As the population grows and the economy expands, many more lawyers and other legal personnel will be needed to focus on such areas as elder, health care, antitrust, environmental, international, and intellectual- property law.
Careers in emergency and protective services are among the fastest growing in the United States today. Increases in crime rates, and especially increases in public anxiety over crime, have led to demands for heightened law enforcement efforts, tougher sentencing laws, and dramatic increases in the security services industry.
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