Public Safety Careers Outlook
Careers in emergency and protective services are among the fastest growing in the United States today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 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. Since 1990, several incidents have raised concern over domestic security, particularly the threat of terrorist attacks. The bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the terrorist attacks of 2001 have caused an increase in both domestic and foreign intelligence and investigative operations. The threat of terrorism has put all public safety officials on alert, from FBI and CIA experts to local police forces and private security companies. There is now increased security particularly in and around government offices, public buildings, airports, post offices, and media headquarters.
The war on drugs, which began during the 1980s, created a need for larger numbers of law enforcement officials trained and dedicated to reducing levels of drug trafficking. In the mid-1990s, President Clinton passed new tough-on-crime legislation that increased the numbers of police officers employed at the local, state, and federal levels.
The corrections industry has recorded an increase of nearly 80 percent in the number of prisoners in the last decade. The war on drugs has had an especially great impact on the number of people being sent to prison. Public outrage at the early release of many violent criminals has led to demands for legislation ensuring these criminals serve the full length of their sentences. More prisons are being built to accommodate them, and more corrections officers are being hired to guard them. At the same time, the overcrowding of many correctional facilities has stimulated pressure for more liberal probation and parole efforts, requiring a greater number of parole and probation officers.
Immigration and customs officials have seen huge increases in the numbers of people and goods, especially drugs, entering the country illegally. Illegal immigration has become an area of national concern as more and more people have entered the country without the required visas and work permits. Crackdowns on illegal immigration have led to more border patrol officers and immigration officials to patrol not only the country’s borders but to seek out illegal immigrants in communities across the United States. Again, the threat of terrorism has had an effect: Border patrol personnel identify and apprehend suspected terrorists and others who might have criminal intent in addition to guarding for illegal entry. Employment of border patrol officers, immigration officials, and customs officials remains largely unaffected by changes in the economy.
Intelligence activities remain an important element of government despite the ending of the Cold War. The breakup of the Soviet Union has created new political situations and instabilities that must be continually monitored and analyzed for their effect on the interests and security of the United States. Terrorist attacks of U.S. targets overseas continue, especially in light of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. A primary function of the country’s intelligence agencies is to identify, intercept, and pursue terrorists who seek to harm the country, its citizens, and its allies.
Private security activities have been stepped up, especially as many U.S. companies compete in the global economy. An especially fast-growing area of corporate security is in computer technology, as computers and computer transmissions of information have become more commonplace across a variety of industries.
Careers in Public Safety:
- Bail Bondsmen
- Border Patrol Officers
- Bounty Hunters
- Corrections Officers
- Crime Analysts
- Cryptographic Technicians
- Customs Officials
- Deputy U.S. Marshals
- FBI Agents
- Fire Inspectors and Investigators
- Fire Safety Technicians
- Forensic Experts
- Health and Regulatory Inspectors
- Intelligence Officers
- Occupational Safety and Health Workers
- Park Rangers
- Parole Officers
- Police Officers
- Polygraph Examiners
- Process Servers
- Secret Service Special Agents
- Security Consultants and Guards
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For More Information:
- American Correctional Association (ACA)
- American Jail Association (AJA)
- American Society of Criminology
- Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP)
- International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
- National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Marshals Service
- U.S. Secret Service