Leaving the police force can be a stressful change, but it’s important to know that there are a variety of options available to you once you’re no longer on the front lines of the thin blue. Whether you’re leaving earlier than expected due to dissatisfaction or burnout, or you’ve simply reached retirement age, leaving the force doesn’t mean that you are without choices.
There are many future career paths that you can follow after both long and short stints with law enforcement, and knowing that you have the right skills and experiences to excel could make all the difference. If you’re thinking of leaving the force or you’ve already handed in your papers, here’s what you need to know.
Think about what will make you happy
Have you always dreamed about a completely different dream job? There are many possibilities available, especially in the digital age. You might consider starting your own business, becoming a consultant, or even just using your savings to invest in others.
The important thing is to identify what you are looking for from the next stage of your life. The clearer your next steps are, the easier it will be to make the transition from your law enforcement career into something that you have always dreamed about.
Talk to people that have made their career in the sector that you’re looking at, especially if they too have come from the police force. The more that you know about what to expect, the more prepared that you will be for the future.
Recognize your transferable skills
Working in law enforcement provides with a vast amount of skills that the average career simply can’t match in terms of both quantity and scope. Make a list of the skills that you have and assess their value to other career fields and employers. These might include:
- Communication skills: You will have been dealing with a very wide range of different people every day, and you will have had to learn how to communicate with them. From calmly talking to the victims of violent crime, or encouraging a witness to break through their confusion, your communication skills are going to be valuable to many employers. If you have had to learn a new language as part of your police career, then this too can be a huge advantage in the job market.
- Sales Ability: It might not be the first thing that you think of when you think about your career, but police officers spend a lot of time developing something very similar to a sales patter. When you’re handing out speeding tickets or taking someone to court, you have to be firm and persuasive, with politeness and calm at the forefront. Those are the same skills that you learn in sales, so if a career in sales sounds appealing, or even retail management, your skills picked up during your time on the force can be highly sought after.
- Problem Solving: You will, of course, have had to deal with any number of different problems every day. Not only will you have had to resolve them, you will have had to do so quickly and efficiently. As a police officer, you will have been trained to look at any given situation and analyze it quickly and professionally. Having strong problem-solving skills can be all that you need to get your foot into the interview room.
- Teamwork: No police officer works alone, and your ability to be a positive member of a team always looks good on a resume. Good teamwork skills that you have developed naturally as part of your training and day-to-day job will have given you the patience needed to cope with any kind of teamwork-based career.
- Strong independence: The direct opposite of teamwork, your ability to take control of a situation and make positive decisions will go a long way to helping you fill out your resume and stand out from other applicants.
- Attention to detail: Whether you’ve been analyzing crime scenes or describing fleeing suspects, you will also have built up a much more refined attention to detail than the average civilian that all employers will put a high value on.
There are many other skills that you will have accumulated during your time in the police. Don’t think that you are bringing nothing of value to the job market. You will have a lot more transferable skills than you assume.
Many ex-police officers continue to work in either law enforcement or security when they leave the force. There are a number of avenues to explore, and some may be less obvious than others. If you’re keen on staying involved with crime prevention, then you might want to look a little closer at some of these popular options.
- Crime Scene Investigation: You may need additional education, but this is a very lucrative career option. Your time spent in the police force will mean that you can make more money than a civilian in the same role.
- Drug and Alcohol Compliance and Enforcement Officer: This will be a combination of both office and field work, and is a good option to consider if you want a little more variety from your day. Often, this will be a federal job, meaning that you get all of the perks that come with that kind of position.
- Force Consultant: This is an option that is certainly growing in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. You will need to look at getting a police studies degree that is recognized, but doing so will mean that you can make a lot more money while also getting a very high level of job satisfaction.
These aren’t the only career options available to you after leaving the force. You could start your own business, become a bodyguard, or even write your first book about a fictional detective.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that life after the force needs to be stressful or (even worse) dull. With your skills and experience, you still have a lot to offer, and you could even find a career that makes you happier than your years on the force ever did.