Police Officer Career Change Ideas That Will Unlock Your New Future

Many police officers eventually pursue alternate occupations within or even outside of law enforcement. Police officers choose to pursue career change for a variety of reasons. These include increased pay, enhanced job satisfaction, and less stress at the workplace. A job shift for a police officer opens up new opportunities, whatever the cause and if you are considering such a move then you have come to the right place. Our guide to police officer career change ideas will lay out all your options in detail.

Key Takeaways

Many police officers eventually pursue alternate occupations within or even outside of law enforcement. Police officers choose to pursue career change for a variety of reasons. These include increased pay, enhanced job satisfaction, and less stress at the workplace. A job shift for a police officer opens up new opportunities, whatever the cause and if you are considering such a move then you have come to the right place. Our guide to police officer career change ideas will lay out all your options in detail.

While the logical direction for most professionals leaving law enforcement careers involves security and investigations, it doesn’t have to be so. Law enforcement professionals possess a wide range of skills that might be useful in a variety of fields outside of security. 

As a police officer, you acquire both practical technical abilities and relevant soft skills, like leadership and communication. Whether you choose to stay in the field of law enforcement or change careers entirely, you may use these abilities to make the transition. 

By coordinating your interests and abilities, you can find suitable alternate jobs for retired police officers. If you're considering changing occupations, take a look at our list of the top alternative careers for police officers, along with information on salaries and employment opportunities.

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Police officer career change ideas overview

Police officers quit the field of law enforcement for a variety of reasons. They work in one of the most physically and mentally taxing occupations. They put themselves in danger every day and work extraordinarily long hours to help others. 

This work can eventually become exhausting. You eventually reach the point of either quitting your job or experiencing burnout. Fortunately, you don't need to be concerned that your police training was in vain. There are several positions that call for previous law enforcement work but don't have quite the same demands on time or stress as a police officer.

Related: 7 Short Courses for a Rewarding Career Change

A young police office smiling
Photo by Jacky Lam from Unsplash

What types of occupations do former police officers go for after retiring?

Although there isn't a standard job route for ex-police officers, there are essentially three main choices you should take into account if you plan to hang up your uniform.

Some choose to remain in public service by continuing to collaborate closely with the police in a civilian capacity, some choose to work with the central government, while some make the shift into the private sector.

There are countless options in the private sector, but former police officers may be particularly well-suited to businesses that handle sensitive materials or have close relationships with institutions in the public sector, like the government or military. 

Being a former officer may provide you an advantage over other candidates because these companies frequently demand that their staff possess stringent security clearances that demand integrity.

Related: How to Get Hired From a Community College

How can you successfully make the transition from law enforcement to private sector?

Changing careers is frequently a very alluring option, especially given the possibility of earning more money. However, there may be a significant learning curve when moving from the extremely rigid structure of a police agency to the commercial world.

You'll need to accept change and be willing to learn new things if you want to do this. This will require abilities like professional networking, especially if you want to establish yourself as a contractor.

Study the field and the positions you're thinking about, and be prepared to adjust. If you are not ready for this, you will find it difficult to advance in your new employment because the corporate world is more adaptable and fast-paced than life in the police.

As a result, before making any moves, you should carefully plan them. Consider the following steps before taking the plunge.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

1. Assess your professional objectives

You may decide to change careers because you are dissatisfied or unhappy in your current position. However, it is preferable to investigate what is causing such feelings in your current workplace. 

Whatever the reason, before making the leap, you should spend some time in self-reflection to gain clarity. This will assist you in determining the direction you want your career to take.

Consider journaling down your thoughts to help you hone in on what it is about your job as a police officer that makes you unhappy. After that, you'll be surprised how much clarity you'll get and how easily you'll be able to spot other jobs that might bring about those same unwanted stressors.

2. Close skill gaps

Job responsibilities, as well as education and skill requirements, vary by role. Learn about the skills required to work in your desired role and work to fill any gaps. This can be accomplished by completing relevant training and educational programs.

Related: Want a Sales Job With No Degree? Here’s How to Get It

3. Network in your new field and meet new people

Building a strong network is critical when looking for work, especially in a new field. You should create a professional profile detailing your new role on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Attending events, seminars, conferences, and trade shows is another excellent way to meet new people.

One great way to begin this is to find other police officers who have launched a new career and get connected with them. You might discover new careers you have not even contemplated.

4. Get work experience in any way that you can 

Experience is extremely important, especially in the early stages of your career. Keep in mind that many employers prefer to work with experienced professionals. 

As a result, you should try to gain work experience in any way you can, including through volunteer and internship programs. This will assist in fleshing out a resume for new career paths for police officers.

A police man observing another man being arrested by the police
Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels

High-paying opportunities for former police officers

If you no longer find your job rewarding or satisfying, you should consider changing careers. Police work involves high-risk situations, such as confrontations with criminals, and people who work in this field can easily become burned out.

If you've decided that it's time for a change, here is our list of high-paying jobs that are ideal for former police officers:

1. Cyber Security Analyst

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $77,377 / year, $29.27 / hour

What does a Cyber Security Officer do?

As a Cyber Security Analyst, you work with businesses to help them secure their IT (information technology) systems. You also mentor employees and ensure that the company meets all regulatory requirements.

Businesses do not always comprehend the impact of a security breach. That's where you can help, by collaborating with them to identify their needs—and protect their information in accordance with the law and risk. The fact is that a company can be completely compliant with the regulations while still being at risk.

From a risk standpoint, you must understand how hackers operate in order to defend against them. Many organizations conduct penetration tests in which a "good guy" hacks in and pretends to be a "bad guy." They then construct their security around that. Your experience as a police officer will help you step into the mind of a criminal, which could really come in handy in this profession.

Are IT certifications typically required for employment in this field? Yes, in order to land well-paying jobs, you will need to build your credentials

Transferable Skills:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical and computer programming skills

Recommended certification: EC Council-Cert Chief Information Security Officer

Why this course: This particular EC-Certified Council's CISO Cybersecurity Program has certified leading information security professionals all over the world.

About the course: Each segment of this program was designed with the aspiring and current CISO in mind, with the goal of passing on the knowledge of seasoned executives to the next generation of leaders in the areas most critical to the development and maintenance of a successful information security program.

Course offered at: Central New Mexico Community College

Course type: Online - On Demand Course

Course Fee: $1,855.2 Total price (excluding tax)

2. Bodyguard

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $66,565 / year, $25.28 / hour

What does a Bodyguard do?

A bodyguard is responsible for the personal security of individuals such as political figures, famous celebrities, business executives, and others who may be targeted personally.

Bodyguards accompany their clients to public events and accompany them in their daily activities. They investigate the backgrounds of those who will have contact with their client, plan travel routes, pre-search rooms/buildings/vehicles for potential hazards, and conduct security checks.

A bodyguard's job can be very rewarding, but it is not as glamorous as many people believe. Even though bodyguards are sometimes exposed to amazing lifestyles and may also get to travel extensively (depending on the client), the end goal is to protect someone's life, not to have fun.

Bodyguards can work alone or as part of a security team, and they are trained to intervene and defend their clients in any situation where there is a threat of harassment or attack. 

They safeguard public officials, wealthy individuals, and celebrities against kidnapping, assassination, harassment, theft, assault, loss of confidential information, general threats, and other criminal offenses. As an experienced police officer you've probably developed protective instincts and situational awareness that could allow you to excel as a bodyguard.

Transferable Skills:

  • Physical stamina
  • Reliability
  • Attention to detail
  • Observation skills
  • The ability to remain focused despite the environment

3. Fire Inspectors

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $54,386 / year, $22.32 / hour

What does a Fire inspector do?

Fire inspectors are in charge of ensuring that facilities comply with applicable codes and laws, and they are frequently employed by emergency response service providers and government agencies. 

Their responsibilities include inspecting fire safety plans and the systems used to extinguish fires to ensure that they comply with local laws, as well as issuing permits and investigating fire origins.

Those in this position assist facilities in determining what needs to be done in order to comply with regulations and laws, and it is critical to follow up with inspected companies to ensure long-term compliance. 

Public speaking skills are advantageous for this position because they may be involved in the development and administration of safety education programs on occasion.

Because visits to facilities and fire inspections frequently necessitate travel, a valid driver's license is usually required. In emergency situations, fire inspectors may be called upon to provide additional assistance, which may include driving an emergency vehicle.

Aspiring fire inspectors should be familiar with all fire prevention laws and regulations, as well as be able to perform CPR. A high school diploma is generally required, and some employers may also require a college degree.

Transferable Skills:

  • Physical fitness
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills

Recommended certification: Hazard Communication and Right-To-Know!

Why this course: This course will add value to your resume as someone who is well-versed in hazard communication is able to conduct safety education programs professionally.

About the course: Do you want to learn how to become a safety asset in a global work environment by acquiring the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a safety professional? 

This is your chance to learn about the theories and principles underlying safety regulations, as well as their practical applications in the workplace. Participants will learn how to design, develop, and implement a safety management system for a variety of organizations in order to protect workers from workplace hazards. 

Participants will also look at safety engineering work and project management, and they will leave with a better understanding of their role as a leader and problem solver in the safety field.

Course offered at: San Juan College

Course type: Online - On Demand Course

Course Fee: $308.16 Total price (excluding tax)

4. Fraud Investigator

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $64,284 / year, $20.58 / hour

What does a Fraud Investigator do?

In general, fraud investigators work to determine whether individuals or organizations attempted to deceive others in order to gain a financial advantage. Because there are numerous fraud investigation applications, fraud investigators typically specialize in a specific field, such as insurance or accounting. 

Due to the high inherent potential for insurance fraud and the volume of fraud cases that occur each year, the vast majority of fraud investigators work in the field of insurance. 

Regardless of the field, the primary duties of fraud investigators include examining evidence, performing data analysis, and interviewing involved parties to determine whether a fraud attempt has occurred. 

The typical case in the insurance industry, where most fraud investigators work, begins with an informant's tip or a flag raised by automatic computer analysis of insurance claims. 

The investigator then opens the case to determine whether the individual staged events for the purpose of making a claim or has requested compensation for frivolous claims.

Your ability as a police officer to conduct interviews and interrogations and piece together evidence could allow you to be a natural fit as a fraud investigator.

Transferable Skills:

  • Forensic interviewing
  • Data analysis
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail

5. Private Detective or Investigator

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $57,519 / year, $23.56 / hour

What does a Private Detective or Investigator do?

Private detectives or investigators gather and analyze facts and information ranging from legal to financial to personal in nature, depending on the needs of their employer - who may be individuals or companies. 

Their daily tasks may include surveilling suspects, researching financial and criminal actions against individuals, conducting background checks, gathering and reviewing documents, and following an individual's movements to gather information. 

Other responsibilities may include assisting in the capture of sexual predators, assisting in the recovery of lost assets, and assisting in forensic investigations. Depending on the needs of specific cases, private detectives may work in the field or behind a desk; the work may also be physically demanding as cases require. 

Work hours vary as well, with a typical work day varying greatly depending on the type of work being done at the time. 

The private detective may work in the field setting up surveillance equipment, conducting interviews, or conducting surveillance; on other days, the private detective may work behind the desk performing computer searches on a variety of cases, such as credit card fraud, employee checks, and finding missing persons. 

They may be locating witnesses or serving legal documents at times.

Transferable Skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Inquisitiveness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Decision-making skills
Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

6.Adjunct Professor (in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement)

Avg. Base Salary (USD): $34,601 / year, $39.09 / hour

What does an Adjunct Professor do?

Adjunct professors work for the institution where they teach as instructors and/or researchers. Most adjunct professors are not full-time university professors looking for tenure. 

Instead, these educators are typically professionals working in a specific field who have part-time professor status at a university teaching within that same field; universities benefit because these professors have real-world experience working in the field and do not require the same employment benefits as full-time professors.

Individuals must typically hold either a doctoral degree in the field in which they work and intend to teach or have extensive real-world experience to be considered for the role of adjunct professor

Exceptions include fields that do not require a doctorate to perform at the highest level and fields that have a licensed, sub-doctoral tier, such as experience as a Police Officer. 

Former police officers can move into these positions to teach classes on criminal justice or related topics. A master's degree is typically required for this position, and individuals may choose to pursue additional teaching training. 

They are responsible for creating lesson plans and course materials, delivering lectures, assigning coursework, and grading exams and essays.

Transferable Skills:

  • People management
  • Knowledge of security policies and procedures
  • Communication
  • Organization skills
  • Planning skills

Recommended certification: Instructional Design for Educators

Why this course: Online education has become very popular. Discover the importance of curriculum development that emphasizes the harmony between course objectives, student evaluation, and instruction.

About the course: Through this course, you will understand research and best practices required for quality online course design while gaining valuable feedback using the instructional design model.

Improve the effectiveness of your online classes with Instructional Design for Educators, a course designed with higher education faculty in mind but informed by pedagogical principles and standards recognized by educators at all levels.

Course offered at: San Juan College

Course type: Online - On Demand Course

Course Fee: $35.89 Total price (excluding tax)

Final Word

No matter how long you've been on the force, leaving can be a very stressful time. Whether you've decided the work isn't for you and want to leave after only a few years, or you've served for three decades or more but aren't ready to retire completely, the next step can be daunting.

Many former police officers may struggle with a lack of direction when they re-enter the civilian workforce. Knowing what roles they would be best suited for and which industries are looking for talent can be difficult, especially if they haven't been in the job market for a while.

In this guide, we showed you some of the best options former police officers have because the skills they acquired while being on the police force are easily transferable to these new professions.

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